“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba; Father’. Galatians 4:6
What thoughts are conjured up in your mind when you hear the word ‘Father’?
My own father has been gone for many years now, and this is the third ‘Fathers Day’ my children have been without their earthly father. Both fathers left a legacy of love and trustworthiness to their children that has enriched their lives immeasurably. That is not always the case though between fathers and their children.
What makes a good father? Being a mother does not give me the qualifications needed to answer that question, but I have a reliable source on what constitutes a good father. In fact it’s the best source of information on any subject. It is a book that is thousands of years old, that transcends the test of time. The Bibles wisdom has proven over and over that it is a reliable resource on how one should live life. So let’s look at what attributes this book tells us will produce a good father.
Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, but what does that training involve? How can we know what and how ‘the way’ of training should be for our children?
Well, according to Ephesians 6:4, fathers are “not to stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”. So the next question is… What makes it possible for fathers to not anger and alienate their children, putting a distance between them, as well as between them and God?
The first ingredient needed to discipline and instruct your child, is love. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40, Deut. 6:5, ending with Lev. 19:18)
If love is owed to God and our neighbor, surely it would be the main guide for a father to his children. So what does love look like, and how does it help us in the raising of our children?
First Corinthians 13:4 tells us what love is… “patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not proud, doesn’t dishonor others, isn’t self-seeking, isn’t easily angered, and keeps no records of wrongs. It does not delight in doing evil but always rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”
Wow, that is a tall order not only for fathers, but for all of us to follow! We know that no human father is going to be all of this to his children, but with God’s recipe for love, we can overcome our inadequacies, and learn father-like traits from the way He loves and teaches us to love.
For instance, in Luke 11:11-13 He tells us “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
What I have learned through these Scriptures is that loving discipline and correction are the main ingredients in being a good father “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12) Therefore we know it is right for a father to discipline and correct his children, in order for them to live happy lives. But he is to do so with the same love, patients, and understanding that he himself receives from God. Then his love and integrity will define how happy his children will be… “The one who lives with integrity is righteous; his children who come after him will be happy.” (Proverbs 20:7)
Only a few Scriptures have been included here, but I encourage you to open your Bible to discover many more or go to biblegateway.com.
Fathers, you have a heavy responsibility on your shoulders, and I pray this has helped to strengthen you for the task. May it also help you to see, and reap the blessings that can come from listening to God’s instructions on how to raise your children. Only His long proven words of wisdom can overcome all the obstacles of ‘raising a child up in the way he should go’.
I leave you with these encouraging words from Clarence Budington Kelland about his father… “He didn’t tell me how to live; He lived, and let me watch him do it.”