On this Father’s Day, I, being a father, contemplate on the biblical principles for fathers. Now more than ever before, we need godly Christian men to assume the role of a father. We cannot afford any more dead-beat dads who claim tolove God and love their children while not having anything to do with their children. We need men of faith who are men of courage to be men of example.
The Bible says a lot about the way fathers should bring up their children. Fathers should:
-Love their children
“For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
It is a given that a father should love his child. If the parent is a true genuine Christian, then the parent should be overflowing with love, since love is from God. What benefit would we have if we changed our communities without first showing love to our families. As we shall see in the next passage, a person who does not provide for his/her family is worse than an unbeliever. Love should be the first priority for the Christian parent.
-Care for their children
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Paul gives Timothy some straightforward advice. A Christian parent has the responsibility for providing for one’s family. No exceptions!!! The child cannot take care of him/herself. You are instructed to care for and nurture your child. No excuses!!!
-Bring them to Christ
“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14).
One of the greatest things a father can do for his child is to lead them to a knowledge of Christ Jesus. Does the father talk about Jesus? Does the father speak about the wonders of Christ? A father cannot expect his child to know about Jesus if he never speaks of Jesus and is never in church. How important is Christ in your life? If you do not place Christ first, then do not be surprised if your child does not either.
-To train them up for a life with God
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Here is one of the more difficult aspects of being a Christian father. You must not only talk the talk…you must walk the walk. One of the best ways of providing godly instruction for your child is for you to be a living example of what the Christian life should be. The adage “Do as I say and not as I do” does not work. Why should it? No one expects you to be perfect. But, you should at least strive to be the moral man that God has called you to be. When you make mistakes, don’t be too big to admit them.
-To instruct them in God’s Word and ways
“You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
Do you have family prayer? Do you have family devotions? Do you read spiritual books to your children? Life is tough. Don’t sugar coat things for your children. Tell them about the complexities and problems of life (at an age-appropriate level) and show how God has helped you through the tough times of life. Provide a moral foundation. Some people say, “Well, I will just let my child decide how they should live.” Well, why don’t you let your child get behind the wheel of your fancy new car and let him or her drive down the interstate unaccompanied? That would be as ridiculous as to let your child decide the way that he or she should live. This does not mean that you restrict their freedoms. This does mean that you provide a moral foundation so that he/she will be educated on the game of life. Just as a child is trained that 2+2=4, so should a child be taught moral principles, values, and where these moral principles originate–God.
-To bless them
“He blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…” (Genesis 48:15).
Without spoiling a child, the parent should be willing to bless a child. Sometimes it is okay to splurge. But, don’t get carried away. You do not want your child to think that he or she is owed everything. But at the same time, you want your child to know that you love them. More than material goods, this blessing shows the necessity of compassion and acceptance of your child.
I heard recently of a story on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” about a young gay man who was kicked out of his home because he was gay. Now, I do not approve of homosexuality. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle the issue. The right way is to let a child who is traveling down an unbiblical path to know that you will always love them and care for them; but, let them know that you do not biblically approve their lifestyle. The wrong way is to kick the child out and shut him/her out of your life. Remember, the Lord forgives us of our sins daily. While I am certainly not calling for the acceptance of unbiblical attitudes, morals, and lifestyles; I am calling for Christians to behave in a Christlike manner. You may not change their mentality by loving them. But rest assured, you certainly will not by acting in an un-Christlike manner.
-To correct them
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7).
There is a biblical call for discipline. This requires the parent to set guidelines and to consistently uphold them. If there is anything that I learned from my time in the school system, it was that children will test the limits of what you say and what you will do. If you give three warnings before implementing discipline, the child will push you to the third time. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Certainly, this does NOT call for physical abuse. Physical abuse to a child is certainly un-Christlike and sick. Physical abuse is nothing more than pathetic bullying. Discipline does mean that limits are set and are implemented. Children left to their own whims will follow every flashy, shiny thing available to them. By the time they find that the flashy, shiny thing that tempts them is dangerous, it is many times too late. Many educational psychologists state that the parent has to the time the child is in the third-grade to set the limits. If you wait until after the third-grade, you will have a difficult time implementing something that is not set in place.
-Not to provoke them
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
Paul says that fathers should not “provoke (their) children to anger.” This means that the father does not try to run every detail of his child’s life. This also means that the father is supportive and not overly critical. It also means that the father builds up and encourages his child without showing favoritism. Can you imagine what life would be like if every father encouraged and supported his child? Our schools and communities would look a lot differently. That’s for sure.
-Not to make unholy connections for them
“So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.” (Genesis 28:1).
Sometimes, the father needs to be like an offensive lineman. The offensive lineman in American Football protects the quarterback from defensive players who seek to do the quarterback harm. In this way, a Christian father should be like a buffer. Isaac instructed Jacob to find a godly wife from people of faith. Isaac wanted to keep Jacob from making unholy connections. This does not mean that the believer should not mingle with unbelievers…heaven forbid! This simply means that the father serves as a buffer (seeking to keep away bad influences) from his child. This may mean that he needs to cut out his child’s ties to bad influences. These bad influences can be bad television shows, certain internet sites, friends who are troublemakers, or activities which may lead the child away from godly principles (including worship). Let’s be honest. A young child has no business watching an “R” rated movie or playing a game rated “T” for teen or “M” for mature. This is not only a good parental activity, it is also a biblical principle.
Outside of God, there exists no perfect father. But, that should not stop us from trying to be the best fathers that we can be. I asked a question earlier if we could imagine a community where fathers did what they were supposed to do as fathers. This would lead to certain changes in our culture. We would have no need for the Department of Social Services…with the exception of orphaned children. We would have no need for youth correctional centers. We would have children who would feel confident about themselves…so we may not need school counselors any longer. It is possible that we might even find that our jails and prisons would have many more open spaces. If fathers and mothers did what they were supposed to do, there would be massive changes, but these massive changes would have a positive impact on our communities and on our world.
Will you take the challenge to be the Christian father that God has called you to be and call out the man and woman in your child?
BE A MAN…BE A CHRISTIAN FATHER!!!
Keep the faith,
Pastor Brian Chilton
R.A. Torrey, The New Topical Text Book: A Scriptural Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001).
All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).