I came across yet another sad story of many this past week, that say about the same thing when it came to the question…….What do you remember about your father? Here’s one answer that really grieved my heart as I was preparing for this Sunday…a time when we reflect on the dads. "A young man was to be sentenced to the prison. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father--a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, "The Law of Trusts." "Do you remember your father?" asked the judge. "I remember him well, your honor," came the reply. Then trying to probe the offender's conscience, the judge said, "As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?" There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected. "I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said, 'Run along, boy; I'm busy!' When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying "Run along, son; this book must be finished!' Your honor, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend." The judge than muttered to himself, "Alas! Finished the book, but lost the boy!"
This is a sad case, but there are so many like this story around the globe. Did you know! The greatest tragedy of our society to the failure of fathers to take their responsibility as parents. Our society celebrates Father's Day, but in 40 % of the families in America, there is no father. The single parent family is the most numerous with a mother and her children. One out of three children born today are born in fatherless homes. In many homes in our country the father is not a visible part of the family. Secular and Christian writers all agree that “Children who grow up without a father grow up in an unstable home. With the mother working to provide for herself and here children, and she has little time to teach or raise the children. The Day Care center or baby sitter becomes the greater influence in their child's life." As one writer said “God's plan for the training of children is in the two parent, husband and wife, family, both present, both taking the role of an example to the child. Now we live in the new enlightened age where the role of the family is being redefined. Today it is a single parent family, or same sex parents, or children raised by their grandparents while mom and dad go their separate selfish ways.”
Why has this happened? Society at large has made the father’s role a joke, not important in our society or to the family…….Turn on the TV and watch the commercials about parenting and dad’s. The movies and sitcoms that makes the dads out to be the idiot and uneducated. The culture as turned the Homer Simpson, the Peter Griffin or the Al Bundy as the role model for today’s dads. Were considered incompetent and unsure of our duties, even when it comes to changing a diaper, or the immediate care for the needs of our children. How important is a father to the family? God has called us men to raise our children according to Paul “In the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And if we listen to the counsel by Solomon [the wisest fallible man to walk the earth] and hold to God’s standard of nurture and discipline than according to the scriptures our children will “give us peace” and “bring delight to our souls.” Prov 29:17 says “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” See God has given us a huge responsibility MEN…….to……
- Fostering a positive relationship with our children.
- Spending time with our children and to laugh with them.
- Nurturing our children under the wisdom of God’s word.
- Disciplining our children appropriately according to God’s word.
- Serving as a guide to the outside world for our children.
- Protecting and providing a safe environment for our children.
- Serving as a positive role model for our children.
And most of all dads……. we have been given the joy and ability, to reflect the love that the Father has for us……. found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now! Fathers may not excel in all of these dimensions, but fathers who do well in most of them will serve their children and families well, not just for today but for the future to come. As one secular writer said the “Nurturing by a father serves several important purposes: Helps fathers build close relationships with their children. Provides children with a healthy model of masculinity. Helps protect girls from prematurely seeking the romantic and sexual attention of men.”Our roles as fathers are just as vital as a mother’s role is for the family. This is the way God ordained and intended it for the family right from the beginning of Adam and Eve. The direct relationship a father has with his child is of supreme worth. Fathers also exercise a strong inﬂuence on their children through the type of life they live in and outside the home. Now I know that isn’t always the case in every home!
- We have dead beat dads
- We have divorce
- We have unwanted children
- We have sin that has shattered the family unit.
- May this never be said of us “Christian men”
- God has given us the greatest responsibility when it comes to the family.
Throughout the scriptures we see multiple warnings and an example of the importance of a father is to the family. What do I mean by that? In Deut 6:5-7 we read this command by a holy God to fathers! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut 6:5-7. We read in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. The training is designed to make clear to children the manner of life they are intended for….for the glory of God and the gospel.
And then we read what Paul wrote in our text this morning “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Eph 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.
For example: Do you give your children more positive comments than negative ones? Are there many times in a week you praise them for their actions or attitude without mentioning anything negative? Is your tone with your children usually kind or enraging? Do you us sarcasm to correct and discipline your children? Do you us the grace and love that Christ has shown you, when you correct or discipline your children?
I really want you to think about this verse in Eph 6…….MEN! Because! Harsh and unreasonable conduct towards a child will only serve to nurture resentment, an evil heart and bitterness towards you and the God you’re teaching them to love. The word “provoke” means “to irritate, exasperate, rub the wrong way, or enflame.” This is done by a wrong spirit and wrong methods, unreasonableness, harshness, cruel demands, needless restrictions, and selfish persistence upon domineering authority. Such aggravation will produce opposing reactions, deadening children’s affection, reducing their desire for holiness, and making them feel that they cannot possibly please their parents. A wise parent, a wise dad will seek to make obedience desirable and attainable by love and gentleness….again this found in the gospel of Christ. As we read also in this instruction by Paul!
“admonition” carries the idea of reminding the child of faults (constructively) and duties (responsibilities). This is to be done is godly manner for the glory of God and for the child to grow in His grace. This is where I think we are failing as dads…….as men! Not taking our responsibility seriously.Why? Sadly, men, part of me thinks we have handed in our man card and our responsibility……… and replaced it with compliancy! And what happens when we do that?The ripple effect it has on future generations according the scriptures is devastating. Scripture says…… “you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,” Exo 20:5 Feeling the wrath and punishment because of the father’s lack of love for God and the lack of importance to train their children in the admonition of the Lord.
Take Eli and his sons, as a father who handed in his man card to turn a blind eye to sin……..the blasphemous sins of his sons. Did Eli do everything possible to reason with his adult sons? They’re old enough to make their own decisions right? The sons sin were their own doing and not of their father. But, is there a place where Eli is responsible for his sons, despite their ages. We read that He said to his sons “Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD's people transgress.” 1 Sam 2:22-24
Now, the sons may not have listened to their father Eli, but did Eli do his very best as a father who knew the God of glory……to plead, correct, and discipline his sons in what they were doing. According to the scriptures….NO HE DIDN’T…… because scripture says He faced judgement as well for the contempt and blasphemous acts his sons were doing in the temple. God spoke to Eli with these words “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?' Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: 'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.' But now the LORD says: 'Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house.” 1 Sam 2:29-31
Judgement not only came to Eli’s sons, but to him as well as Samuel prophesied “Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears." Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” 1 Sam 3:10-13
So let me ask you men! Are you spending time, interacting, and getting involved in your children’s lives dads? Or are you ignoring the warning signs as Eli and biblical foundation we have been called to teach and live out in our homes……in our lives according to the scriptures. I want to ask you some hard questions this morning men! And I’m asking myself these questions as well…..
Are we [are YOU, dad] properly training and admonishing your children……..
- To be sure of his or her salvation.
- To love and understand God’s word as precious, and not as duty or some form of legalism.
- To obey their God given roles as children with joy and willingness as it is fitting to the Lord.
- To be a proper and effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ to their generation.
- To desire those times of alone with the Lord daily.
- To exercise self-control when it comes disappointments and frustrations.
- To have fellowship, to respect and honor the church family and its leaders, because they are those whom God has appointed over you in the local church.
- To understand the power of prayer and the reason why we pray to a holy God.
DADS……….Are you exemplifying in any of these areas in your life as a guide, example for your children to follow after? Men it’s time we claim our man cards and do what God called us to do…if not, we could face judgement like Eli did some 4 thousand years ago. If you feel you’ve failed at many of these questions, then my suggestion for you is this! Go to your children and humbly apologize and repent of your complacency as a dad and be restored to your God given role….it doesn’t matter how old they are. The Lord can use those situations to bring you closer together or closer to Him and His saving grace. Men reclaim what God has ordained for you and your family! As we read in 1 Cor 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” God has given us men a responsibility to lead and guide our families to Him and blessed gospel. It wasn't Eve sin that brought destruction…though she sinned and God dealt with her accordingly. Why? Paul wrote “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” Rom 5:12. The issue fell upon the man…..and the same principle and responsibility still lies with the head of the home!
I’m not saying he is responsible for every sin each family member commits on their own wilfully. What I am saying is that he is ultimately responsible and will be judged for his leadership role in the home that God has ordained for the family! Though each and every one of us male and female will stand and give an account, to God for our timer and lives……….but the husband is still responsible for his family. That’s why its vital men we hold and guards our responsibility as dads…as husbands, and stop listening to the culture around us that tells us that we’re incompetent and irresponsible to lead our wives and children. Christ left us men to an example for the marriage and for our children. Don’t throw in your man-card for complacency and disinterest because your ill-equipped. God knows your weaknesses and your inabilities to lead…..that’s why Christ came to be an example for us to follow. That’s why Paul wrote these truths for us! “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:25-27. And we read his role for his children…….. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Eph 6:4. And to top it off He sealed us with the Holy Spirit so that we can do and teach, direct these truths to our families into His beautiful sovereign arms.
Remember men of God your role is vital and just as important…..it is so important you will leave a legacy for many years to come in your children. And as this writer wrote to dads in his blog “From God’s perspective, you are His blessing to your children. God wants your children to know about Him and He picked you out of all the dads on earth to make it happen. Read Deuteronomy 6. So, the next time your tempted to think you’re not that important – that you’re not getting anywhere, the next time you see an advertisement with a mocking reference to the buffoon dad, the next time you wonder if what you’re doing matters over the long haul, remember, God doesn’t make mistakes. He chose you, Dad. He chose you for His purposes and His plan. That’s one of the great comforts we Dads can take in knowing God. He always has a plan. It may not be apparent in those everyday moments that often seem unimportant but faithful fatherhood is a marathon, not a sprint.” So dads hang in there and fight the good fight for the glory of God and the family. Love your wife as Christ loved the church. Love and teach your children about the glory of God and the gospel. Take the unpopular road as Joshua was willing to take an unpopular stand "choose you this day whom you will serve?
What was his response?
"Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14-15
We fathers will serve the Lord..... because that’s what will make a difference for the family.