AUGUST 07, 2023



“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21 New King James Version).

The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record how some parents brought their children to Jesus so that He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. However, for the best reason known to His disciples, they forbade them. Perhaps, they felt that laying hands on the children by Jesus would trivialize His ministry.

The disciples told the parents not to bother Jesus. They rebuked them. I don’t know how the request to lay hands on children and pray for them amounted to bothering Jesus or how it called for rebuke. Expectedly, Jesus’ attitude was different from that of His disciples. He believed that ministering to the children was no less important than ministering to the adults.

Mark 10:13-16 presents the story this way: Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (New King James Version).

I consider this story, which is also recorded in Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17, an example of how adults discourage children. Matthew 19:13 says, Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them” (New King James Version). If the children brought to Jesus were old enough to understand the action of the disciples, they would have left the place discouraged had Jesus not intervened. Jesus ministered to different categories of people. Why the need to exclude children?

The parents who brought their children to Jesus did very well. Adults, particularly parents, must be careful that they don’t say or do things that discourage children. Parents must understand that children are children! What is important to them is not necessarily what is important to their parents. Children’s interests are different from adults’ interests. Parents must, therefore, be sensitive to the emotional needs of their children as much as they are concerned about their children’s food, clothing, etc.

It is important to discipline and correct your children when they do what is wrong. But do it in love and also use positive reinforcement to encourage them. Don’t let your children see you as a fault-finder, because you never commend or reward their good efforts or conduct. Don’t become a critic of your children, be their encourager or cheerleader even when their good performances are below your expectation.

Show your children what the Word of God says. Tell them you believe they can do everything the Word of God demands of them through Christ who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13). Encourage them to obey the Word of God as His children. Comparing them with other children could be counter-productive; it could discourage them. Appreciate their efforts, no matter how little they are.

Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Also, the New International Version says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Note the phrases “lest they become discouraged” and “or they will become discouraged.” Parents must avoid discouraging their children but encourage them.

The New Century Version presents Colossians 3:21 this way: “Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.” Encouraging your children will help them to keep trying; discouragement will make them give up. Don’t discourage your children. That doesn’t mean you should not discipline your children. But disciplining them should be to make them better, not to destroy them. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 Amplified Bible). Parents must discipline their children in love (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).

In 3 John 3-4, the Apostle John wrote encouraging words to his spiritual children, saying, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (New King James Version). That would motivate them to do better.

And after talking to them about a member of the church, Diotrephes, who was a bad example of a Christian, John told them not to imitate what was evil, but what was good (verse 11). But don’t forget that he had appreciated them earlier.

Parents must encourage their children to obey the Word of God, do what is right, overcome their weaknesses, develop their potential, attain academic success or goals, etc. Parents should avoid being judgmental, even when their children do not meet their goals or suffer a temporary setback. They must also avoid discouraging them by setting for them unrealistic goals.

Some parents don’t do anything or don’t do enough to encourage their children to excel in their academics, even when the children have the potential to do so. They’re always criticizing their performances, and the children don’t do better. I know a young man, who was encouraged by his parents in his academics and excelled.

When he entered the university, his parents encouraged him to aim for the best. They kept telling him he had the potential to make First Class, which he wasn’t too eager about. They made him believe he could do it. And even when he didn’t make it in the first and second years, they kept encouraging him that it was doable.

By the third year, he was in First Class. He sustained it and came out with First Class. He emerged as the best in his department and the best in his faculty. He made it with the help of God and his diligence and sacrifice, but not without the encouragement of his parents.

Encourage your children in their godly endeavors. It doesn’t mean every child will come out with First Class, but encourage your children to develop and maximize their potential. Challenge them not to rest on their laurels. Many children have improved academically because of their parents’ encouragement. Others’ lives have changed positively as their parents encouraged them to overcome their challenges.

Everybody needs encouragement. Paul told the Thessalonian church to encourage one another. “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words [concerning our reunion with believers who have died]” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 Amplified Bible). Speak encouraging words to your children. If you’re already doing that, keep doing it, as Paul also told the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Even if anyone is trying to discourage your children, encourage them. Show interest in their godly endeavours, goals, or projects, assist them in any way possible, support them to deal with disappointments and setbacks, and celebrate their accomplishments. Most importantly, encourage them by praying for them and with them.


If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of my words, attitudes, and actions that discourage my children; I shall encourage them henceforth and more. I shall not provoke my children to wrath. I receive Your wisdom to encourage my children to live to please You. Father, I receive for my children a heart of obedience to your Word. I receive divine encouragement for them to pursue their destinies and become all You want them to be.

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947
Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
Website: www.cedarministry.org