“Fathers, don’t provoke your children, so that they won’t be discouraged.”
The perfect follow up to the preceding verse. Children should obey, but parents must not put unnecessary burdens in their children. It is easy to allow the weight of legalism to infiltrate our families and we construct all kinds of perfunctory rules and regulations, which are really just a tool to control. It is an ungodly mindset and undermines the ability of children to choose the right things for themselves. It makes them dependent on the parent and takes away their own sense of themselves and the prospect of a personal relationship with God.
The innate human desire to tell people what to do, can overcome us in various roles in our life, and none more so than in parenting. To be over-bearing toward the child in the upbringing of that child causes insecurities and lack of personal confidence. It encourages dependance on us as fragile human beings, and not on the living and true God who is searching for His children. To be too light-handed in the upbringing of the children, can encourage lawlessness and rebellion, which can also come from being too dictatorial also.
We work out the upbringing of our children with fear and trembling and dependant on the grace and mercy of the Lord to direct our paths, and bring our children safely into the heavenly fold. We should be more encouraging of them rather than the constant correction and punishment that some families follow. This is not helpful to the child. It could also tip quite easily into abuse and taking away the fundamental rights of the child.
We aim for godly, faithful, sincere relationships that guide our children into all truth, but realising that we cannot dictate their final characters or personalities, but leave that in the loving hands of God. Perhaps less is more. Perhaps a lighter touch is better than the heavy hand. God lets us make mistakes so that we can learn from them, and in all things leads us into all truth. Families should operate in this way too, and make independent and confident learners, who know the Lord and will walk with Him in courage and obedience, as we also should as clear examples of God’s handiwork.
The Apostle Paul tells us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to stay well away from the concision and those who are false towards Christ. Going backwards is not an option, and we cling to the reality of Christ and not faded pictures from a past era. He is vehement about this assertion. He tells us not to touch or taste or handle these false doctrines which keep harking back to the Ceremonial law, and the worship of any entirety other than God.
To practice the observance of the Old Testament ceremonial feasts and religious ceremonies, encourages the development of a legalistic mindset which becomes oppressive towards our own personal life and others. We easily become judgmental and think that everyone must adhere to the personal standards we set ourselves. We can become hard line in our thinking and gradually shut down the working of the Spirit because of our legalistic ways and strict personal judgment about what to do or not do. We are constrained to obey the moral law of God, but not the pictures of the past, which are now made reality in the coming of Christ.
This is a mindset of legalism. It looks at, tastes and handles the self-righteousness of judgmentalism and encourages salvation by works and therefore undermines our faith. We become the weaker brother, with all kinds of rules and regulations that we construct around our lives, making us slaves again to fear. The moral law stands above this and is set by God for humankind through all time. It is the peerless expression of a holy and just God and we are duty bound to keep it with great effort and dedication. Paul is telling us to stay away from the legalism of the Old Testament covenants with God, surrounding the old life choices of the Israelites nation – the old shadows that pointed to the coming kingdom.
It starts with “looking”and progresses to “touching” this mindset of rules. We think we are becoming more holy by taking to ourselves more and more stringent “laws” about living, and then imposing them on others. God sets us free to be at liberty in our lives, and we must not become, enslaved by the unnecessary observances of laws which have passed away. We can become very judgmental and put ourselves in the slavery of these issues. We can become very obsessed with the minute details of the law and lose the liberty we have received from Christ, and end up offending our own conscience.
Paul is telling us to not go near this kind of attitude and to stand firm in the faith we possess in Christ. Don’t let your faith get sullied by the unfruitful works of dead laws, which Jesus has allowed to pass away.