The Bible and Fatherhood

The greatest commandment in Scripture is this: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). If we go back a couple of verses we read,

“So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life” (Deuteronomy 6:2).

Following Deuteronomy 6:5, we read,

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Israelite history tells us that the father was to be diligent in instructing his children in the ways, works and words of the Lord for their own spiritual development and well-being. The father who was obedient to the commands of Scripture took this task seriously.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

To “train” means the first instruction that a father and mother give to a child, (we would call this, early education). This training is designed to make clear to children the kind of life they are intended to live.

Paul gives a summary of instructions to the father, in both a negative and positive way.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”(Ephesians 6:4).

The negative part of this verse indicates that a father is not to foster negativity in his children by severity, injustice, partiality, or unreasonable exercise of authority. The word “provoke” means “to irritate, exasperate, rub the wrong way, or incite.” This is done by a wrong spirit and wrong methods—severity, unreasonableness, sternness, harshness, cruel demands, needless restrictions, and selfish insistence upon dictatorial authority. This provocation will produce adverse reactions, like reducing their desire for holiness, or obedience, and making them feel that they cannot possibly please their parents. Wise parents seek to make obedience desirable and attainable by love and gentleness.

The positive part of Ephesians 6:4 is expressed in a comprehensive direction—educate them, bring them up, develop their conduct in all of life by the instruction and admonition of the Lord. This is the whole process of educating and discipline. The word “admonition” carries the idea of reminding the child of faults (constructively) and duties (responsibilities).

The Christian father is really an instrument in God’s hand. The human father should never present himself as the ultimate authority in determining truth and duty. It is only by making God the teacher and ruler on whose authority everything is done that the goals of instruction can best be attained.

Instruction comes from the Lord, and is learned through Christian experience, and is administered by the parents—primarily the father. Christian discipline and instruction are needed to enable children to grow up with reverence for God, respect for parental authority, knowledge of Christian standards, and habits of self-control.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A father’s first responsibility is to acquaint his children with the Bible. The father is charged to be faithful in role modeling what children learn about God, which will put them in good standing throughout their lives.

Application: Dads, it is so important for you to lead your children in the way they should go.

  1. While no dad is perfect, the goal for all of us is to take this leadership responsibility to heart. Do not abdicate this task to the mother. While she is a partner is the bringing up of your children, the father has tremendous influence over children.
  2. Is there a need for growth in the area of fatherhood? Study up on our heavenly Father and seek to conform to that image.
  3. Do you need to ask forgiveness for any failure in this area? talk about the need in your family and your desire to be the father your kids need.
  4. Pray and seek God together as a couple. Forgive each other. Encourage one another. You need to be the greatest advocate of your wife and she needs to be your biggest fan and supporter. A man needs respect, so commit now that you will earn it.

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