In his sermon series entitled, Loving Little Ones, Douglas Wilson makes application of this passage from the larger church body to the specific microcosm of the Christian home. In our homes we have leaders and followers, teachers and learners, older, wiser ones and younger, foolish ones; everyone in both categories being brothers and sisters in Christ. Pastor Wilson pointed out that in our homes we tend to leave the “ye who are spiritual” part out of the verse. We assume that folks “at church” need to remember this verse whenever they may be admonishing, exhorting, rebuking, or correcting us, but when we get home, this verse does not apply when we are correcting our children. In the church, folks need to remember the “spirit of gentleness” part; especially when they are correcting us. If they don’t, we get to turn things back around, make an accusation at them, and then completely ignore whatever they were trying to say to us. At home, we pretend like we are the “ye who are spiritual” ones by default, therefore “spiritualness” gets defined by however we are doing things at the moment.
Brothers, these things ought not be so. If we are at home and an offense is committed by one of our wee ones, and we fly off the handle, then at that moment there are zero spiritual people in that room. There is no one in that room fit to restore anyone that has been caught in a transgression, because both people in that room are in the middle of a transgression. We need to be restored before we are biblically fit to do any restoring.
In Toby Sumpter’s ruminations about the Newtown shootings, he made a point that I won’t soon forget. He said,
We snapped at (our children) in anger, in frustration. They were whining in the backseat of the car, they were embarrassing us in front of our friends. And so we pulled a 9mm semi-automatic and shot them with words and looks and our tone of voice.
Our unbridled wrath is the same as murder. It kills our neighbor, and it does not restore our children. It does not “teach them a lesson” in the way that we may be hoping. It teaches them lies about God. We call Him “father,” and rightly so, but when was the last time He snapped at you? When was the last time He got that serious look on his face, wagged His finger, and scolded you until you learned your lesson? He is long-suffering toward usward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The God of heaven and earth is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Do we get to set that list aside until we’ve raised our children? If we do then we’ll be raising them into the same moral relativism that we ourselves are practicing. Not to mention that we’ll look just as stupid as that parent in Wal-Mart, leaning down into the face of their child, chewing them out publicly, because they won’t biblically discipline them privately. We don’t get a pass on looking stupid just because we’re Christians.
In Galatians 5, the chapter preceding Galatians 6 if you haven’t been counting, Paul gives us some very practical lists,
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
We have probably abstained from orgies and sorcery our entire lives, and drunkenness for most of our lives, but what about fits of anger? When the lamp gets knocked off the table and shatters, or the rebellious little pill says, “no”, or the teenager asks, “why” again today, we must remember that parents who habitually practice “fits of anger” will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And remember, on the contrary, that “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Christ not only says, “Mine,” over every square inch of creation geographically. He also says, “Mine,” over every word that we speak to our children today and over every disciplinary action that must take place. So, unless the house is on fire, don’t yell at your children today. Or tomorrow. Or ever.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1