Day 17: Parents’ Responsibility to Children

17 October 2020

3.1 MINS

God is challenging us to be better parents.


“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
Colossians 3:18–21

I have never found being a father easy, due to my own upbringing with a distant father and an abusive mother. In Colossians 3:21 we read, “fathers, do not embitter or provoke your children or they will become discouraged.” The word here for “fathers” can also be translated parents.

So how can parents embitter or provoke their children?

First, by failing to discipline them. If a child gets their own way all the time, they become bitter when anyone in authority does not allow them to have their own way or when life gets difficult.

Second, by giving improper discipline or abusing them. When children are abused in any way, for example verbally or physically, they develop anger and hatred in their hearts. They then are likely to turn to abusing others because of their own anger.

Third, parents embitter their children through neglect. Many children don’t receive the love and affection they need to grow into healthy individuals. When parents are not around or available enough, children can grow bitter, and this often leads to anger. Children need to be given priority over church, work, social life and friends if we don’t want to make them bitter.

Fourth, children can become bitter if they are never valued or encouraged. William Barclay said,

“It is one of the tragic facts of religious history that Martin Luther’s father was so stern to him that, all his life, Luther found it difficult to pray ‘Our Father’. The word “father” in Luther’s mind represented nothing but severity. The duty of the parent is discipline, but it is also encouragement. Luther himself said “Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is true. But beside the rod keep an apple to give him when he does well.”

Finally, parents can embitter their children if they play favourites. This happened to Joseph when his father gave him the coat of many colours and he became the favoured son. His brothers got angry and bitter towards their father and towards Joseph—and later they kidnapped Joseph and in anger sold him into slavery. Parents need to guard against favouring one child over another. Instead of making children bitter and provoking them, we need to train them in the ways of God and treat them as God would treat them. We need to make sure that we encourage them to love and follow God’s plan for their lives.


Father, thank You for the beautiful life-changing relationship we have with You through Your Son Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. Thank You that because of this, our relationships here on this earth can be beautiful and loving. We confess to You today that we fall far short in our relationships with each other. And particularly we pray today that You will forgive us as parents for the times we have provoked our children, causing them to become bitter, angry and disheartened. Help us to be reconciled, not only with You through Jesus Christ, but also reconciled with our families here on earth. Bind us together in love, for You have designed families to be the ultimate in love, forgiveness, reconciliation, fellowship and fun — and for this we thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer Points for October 2020
1. Pray for a Breakthrough for LIFE, specifically an end to abortion and euthanasia in our nation. Exodus 20:13
2. Pray for a Breakthrough for INDIGENOUS LIFE, specifically an end to high youth suicide and premature death due to ill health. 3 John 1:2
3. Pray for new POLITICIANS for LIFE, especially pray for the upcoming elections in Queensland (31st October), ACT (17th October) + USA (3 November) & New Zealand (17 October). Proverbs 29:2
4. Pray for the Revitalisation of SPIRITUAL LIFE, namely repentance, renewal & transformation, that our nation might return to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Commissioner James Condon has been an Officer of The Salvation Army for more than 45 years. He has served in a variety of leadership roles in three countries: Australia, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom and in many roles in the local church and Australian Headquarters. Appointed as Commissioner for the Australian Eastern Territory in 2011 he is now retired but continues to serve the Lord. James is currently Chairman of the National Day of Prayer & Fasting.

We invite you to join the daily 1-hour Zoom video National Prayer Call every night:
1st– 31st October 2020
TIME: 8pm-9pm AEST
ZOOM MEETING ID: 776881184
See Zoom tutorial here.

Daily devotions brought to you by the Canberra Declaration.


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