Useful Bible Studies > Colossians Commentary > chapter 3

Advice to parents: do not stir up strong emotions in a child

Colossians 3:21

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul urges fathers not to stir up or excite a child’s anger, for example by cruel punishments. Of course they may have to punish their child; however, the purpose must be to teach that child, not to stir up emotions. That kind of emotion does not help the child to learn or to serve God; rather, the feeling of anger only upsets that child.

In Colossians 3:21, Paul uses a different word in the Greek language to mean ‘stir up’. Although some Bible translations here mention anger, Paul does not. Instead, he chooses a Greek word that he used in a good sense in 2 Corinthians 9:2. There, Christians have stirred each other up, so that they feel excited about something.

So here in Colossians 3:21, Paul seems to be teaching a more general lesson than in Ephesians 6:4. Parents should be careful not to stir up strong emotions of any kind in a child. There should be joy and happiness in a home, even as there should be punishments of wrong deeds. So parents should carefully explain to their children how they should understand these things. For example, a happy occasion gives the child a special reason to give thanks to God. A punishment gives the child an opportunity to learn how to behave better. Then the child learns not to depend on emotions, but to think clearly.

Children who depend on their emotions soon lose any sense of hope or purpose in life. Bad feelings like anger can make them so bitter that they refuse to learn anything from their parents. Good feelings like happiness soon disappear, and the child tries desperately to find a new source of excitement. However, the parent who teaches his child properly can show him how to put his trust in God (Proverbs 2:1-5). It is that trust that gives a child hope and purpose in his life.

Next part: How Christians should act in difficult work situations (Colossians 3:22)


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