Scripture: Ephesians 6:4
6:4 Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
I think most of us who are fathers here online want to, and wanted to be good fathers and we question ourselves each and everyday on “Are we being a good father, or not”?
In my generation I got to pick from several role models. God, the professional speakers and trainers, Jim Rohn, Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, combined with other biblical leaders like Adam, Abraham, Noah, and others? Now, if I watched TV, apparently I could even have the role models of other fathers parenting their child.
And there was my biological Dad who was never there for me throughout my life and when I found who he was denied that I even existed.
It’s like when we become fathers, all memory of ourselves actually being kids goes away, and we haven’t got a clue what to do when we’re alone with our children as they grow up.
I didn’t have a good model for being a father (except for God when I was a young man) no matter where I looked, and so when I had kids, I was basically making it up from the best of what I saw which wasn’t great to say the least.
If we’re honest guys, how many of us saw this pattern as fathers and find ourselves kind of repeating it? A father works hard to provide stuff for his family, but often don’t you find that that can be an excuse? We really want to work for our own satisfaction, and even maybe to avoid having to parent sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s any bad intent here, but rather it’s a sense of incompetence that we can overcome with work, so we would rather work than parent, for our own sense of competence? (After all, we’re the caveman… the hunter and gather, right?) And society is set up so that that’s normal and in God’s eyes this is the furthest thing from the truth and totally out of line with the Word of God if you want to be honest about it.
It’s what we saw. Dad is the provider and maybe the disciplinarian. But when it comes to the more complex issues of parenting and dealing with the thoughts and emotions of our kids, we get kind of nervous and appreciate having the luxury of handing them off to mom. (Thank you mom for being there for us and the kids…) Maybe this is just me, but I’m pretty sure some of you at least can relate.
It never occurred to me that I could go to scripture to see what the Father of all children says about being a dad. (Or, maybe I did and just lost my mind when it came to this part of my early life) So that’s what I want to do today. Some of you have seen the movie Courageous, and I believe every father should see it. We have a copy in our library.
Our Father in heaven is a covenant maker and in movie Courageous fathers are encouraged to make a covenant, or resolution based on His word.
The verse I want to focus on today is Ephesians 6:4 and let me just say that our primary job as fathers, as it is for God, is to build good character and values in our children. Everything else comes from that. Character, who we are, what we stand for; and I believe this verse gives us amazing divine guidance for doing that. Let me read it…
Three things we see in this verse.
1. Do not provoke your children to anger. What does that mean? The word for provoke is parorgizo which contains the word for beside, and the word where we get orgy from, which means literally extreme passion. I know I’ve misunderstood this statement and I bet many of us have. It means, do not show violent passion beside your children, or do not model violent passion that would discourage them. The saying applies to both how we treat them, and how we model beside them. In a nutshell we could say, model emotional self control.
2. Bring up or nourish or nurture them, even cherish and train them, in the discipline (tutelage or correction)…
3. And the calling attention to or warning of the Lord.
Let me put it together simply, model emotional self control to your children, correct them and warn them based on what the Lord says. We want our kids to have success in the world, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it is more important that we train them for eternity. And so I believe that God’s instruction here in Ephesians is to simply model a God centered life and correct and warn them according to the Bible, so that they also grow up in that way. Warn your daughter about wearing that skirt, your son about hanging out with those guys. That worldly success and popularity doesn’t override following God.
When I look at it this way, suddenly the job doesn’t look so daunting. God doesn’t need me to have all the answers, he is instructing me to control myself and look to Him for the answers, and teach my children what I learn from Him. It’s all there, and that takes a lot of pressure off.
Fathers are we standing by while we live the world’s way only not quite as bad?
Do we allow our children to set their own standards of what to wear, what they watch, what they listen to, because it takes too much effort and conflict to step in and stand up for Christian values? “A child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Are we like Eli where judgment fell upon his family forever because he knew about their sin, “his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them”. (1 Samuel 3:13)
So, what if we do this and the children still don’t follow or honor our instruction? Let’s ask what God is going to do to them if they don’t follow His ways. The previous verse in Ephesians says that life will not go well for them. In Deuteronomy 6 we know the part that says you shall teach your children about me when you sit, walk, lie down, rise, but further along in that chapter, here’s what happens when we don’t fear and serve the Lord, “God’s anger will be kindled against you and he will destroy you from the face of the earth”.
Proverbs 19:18, “Discipline your children while there is hope; do not set your heart on letting them die”. Chasten, punish your children for disobedience or the alternative is much worse.
Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof produces wisdom”, and Proverbs 29:17, “discipline will give you peace of mind”. The good kind of discipline that teaches children best is the kind I got sometimes, and many of you did as well. And yes it is based somewhat on fear.
But it also needs to be backed up with the word of God. It needs to instruct.
Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t all memorize the Proverbs and have our kids memorize them. They’re full of straight forward wisdom from God for an effective life. The problem is that most of the world doesn’t abide by biblical principles anymore, so when we do, it may not always appear to be working well. If everyone was committed to them, this would be utopia. That is one way Satan has made it so much more challenging to live in obedience to God’s ways, because its against the grain.
Our children look at people who try to follow God’s ways and see the results in the world and get the same doubt that Satan put in Eve’s mind, “Is this really the best way?” But why is it that most people don’t follow the instructions of God’s Word even in the church? It’s very simple, fathers have not followed their primary instruction from the word to teach and discipline their children in the Lord.
Yes, this heaps a huge responsibility on father’s who have focused on the duty of providing material things for their family, and yes God wants that. But in a very real way, God has placed the responsibility for our children’s character and soul’s right into our hands.
And I want to say to dads, don’t even worry too much about all the other commands right now, focus on doing this one well. Love your wife sacrificially, and discipline, instruct and correct your children in the Lord. You do that well, and you’re way ahead of most fathers and most Christians. The future depends on it.
Imagine if every man in the churches of Jesus Christ made those commitments and took them seriously, never mind outside of the church. Do you think the world would be different? If every professing Christian father, approximately five hundred million of them completely obeyed God in this one area, I believe the world would be changed.
What does it take? Desire and courage. You’ve got to want it and you have to be courageous. Really it’s what we all need to be real Christians period. Wanting to live by God’s Word, and being courageous enough to do it in spite of the worldly opposition.
What’s at stake? Our children’s souls, and not only that, their futures in this world. Look at how fast the world has changed in the last 100 years. Probably more change than in the previous 1000 years. There’s no reason to believe that pace is going to change. And that means that if we change, the world could be very different in a very short time.
Now I know this is heavy and we are going to leave here today and quickly forget about what we heard this morning.
Enjoy your father’s day, but I want you also to enjoy being a godly father everyday.
Try not to see this as a burden, but as an adventure that will have such positive consequences that you will celebrate in the days and months and years to come. Ask yourself right now, what will I be most proud of the day I die? How many bushels of grain I produced in my lifetime, how many cars I sold, that amazing renovation I completed on my house, that trophies I won. You know what I’m talking about.
Do you think you will ever be happier or prouder than when you see your children enter heaven? Evangelism and living for God begins in the home, so commit to that above all other things.
But most of all, commit to knowing and doing God’s Word. We have it for a reason, and it isn’t just to be inspired or to absorb knowledge, it is meant to be done as our guidebook for life.
When you take your last breath and everything else fades away, what will you have, what will be most important, what will be the regrets that slap you in the face.
And guys we can’t do this alone. And we can’t let each other get away with casual disobedience. It’s too easy for that to become contagious and the norm. The stakes are too high. So what are we gonna do?
You now hold the keys to successful fatherhood in your hands. The question is, “What are you going to do about it in order to be the father that God created you to be starting today?” The choice is yours…. Amen.
Excerpts from Father’s Day, Contributed by Sean Harder, July 6, 2012.