My great-great-great grandfather died in 1855. He fathered ten children. By God’s grace, his children walked with God. Twenty-four years after his death, one of his eldest sons reflected:
“He had a pretty strong temper, but usually well bridled, which gave him force of character. In the family, his corrections were severe. It was the youthful judgment of the older children that a little more gentleness in family discipline would not have been amiss. We believe moreover, that time softened his sterner qualities, that he grew more lenient as he grew older, and that the younger members of the family were subjected to less severity of discipline.”
Older children in large families universally believe that younger siblings seem to get away with everything. As the second in a family of eight, I know. The quote regarding my fore-bearer merely proves that over the last 200 years, nothing has changed.
But, it also shows that God causes parents to grow in grace and to see that children need grace. I witnessed God changing my parents even as they raised me. They emphasized grace, and I’m thankful. Ephesians 6:4 says: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). Children need discipline and instruction, but both the discipline and the instruction must point them to the grace of God in Christ. Ephesians features divine grace as our greatest need. Children need grace most of all too, and our parenting should emphasize it.
Thinking of young people, please pray for two of our Gentle Reformation authors, Barry York and Jared Olivetti, who are speaking at different youth winter conferences this week. Pray that grace would abound.