I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, to You O Lord, I will sing praises. I will give heed to the blameless way. When will you come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me (Ps.101:1-3).
Every Christian father really does have an exciting task before God. The Bible says that “a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness” (Isa.38:19). With his wife, the godly father has the challenge of raising his children “…in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph.6:4).
Every responsibility a Christian has requires the grace of God to do it, and being a godly father is no different. We can identify something of the father’s responsibility, when God spoke concerning Abraham:
For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him (Gen.18:19).
Neither of these passages stress academic prowess. But all of them illustrate the importance God places on His people being faithful in ethical matters, as seen in scripture. Thus a father’s first task before God is teaching his children “the way of the Lord.”
Education and discipleship, according to the Bible, are really one and the same thing. In fact, it was Noah Webster about 200 years ago, who commented that “education without the Bible is useless.”
An understanding of Biblical law, along with explaining and expounding how his children are to be faithful to those laws, are to be among the first things a godly father is to be teaching his children. In Malachi’s era, God commended the Levitical priesthood this way:
True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found in his lips; he walked with Me in peace and righteousness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts (Mal.2:6, 7).
The exposition of scripture is one of the first tasks of the godly father. He not only knows his Bible, he’s to be consistently expounding it with his wife and children, so that they become people of the Book, too. The Bible makes promises about this:
Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever (Ps.112:1-3).
This father will be familiar with the great themes of the Bible: creation, salvation, redemption, justification and sanctification. And he’ll be able to diligently explain them to his family, so that they too become people of the Lord.
I have a university education, and it’s perfectly legitimate for a Christian with the academic ability, to go on to higher education. But if the young person has never been taught by their parents the absolute necessity of loving, serving and obeying Jesus Christ, according to the scriptures, higher education can become a liability. He will not have a theological framework to understand and judge the knowledge coming to him, and this can be overwhelming.
What’s to be the father’s attitude? Jesus explained what this should be:
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mat.20:25-28).
A father with a servant attitude should be authoritative, but never authoritarian. No one has more authority when they raise their voice; all they are doing is using intimidation. Any father who ever entertains the idea that he can lord it over his family had better change his attitude, if he really wants to serve God in his family. If Jesus described Himself as being “…gentle and humble in heart…” (Mat.11:29), shouldn’t every father want to be like that?
That means that any father should always be willing to help his wife with domestic tasks. Floors need mopping, dishes need to be done, washing needs to go on the line, meals need to be prepared and windows need cleaning. Serving our wife often means helping with these tasks, which with her other responsibilities, can become overwhelming for her.
This is a theme that Biblical writers repeatedly return to. Paul, in encouraging the Philippians, emphasised how important it was to,
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus… (Phil.2:3-5).
He also encouraged the Galatians, not to
turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal.5:13).
Conclusion: The time for short-cuts is over. Short cuts have gotten us where we are today in the church: in a hole, and the state of the world today reflects this. Christian fathers must begin to take their responsibilities seriously. This will mean applying ourselves to the Word and law of God, and teaching and explaining this to our families.
It will mean living lives of faithfulness to God, and adopting the servant attitude towards our families that Jesus had to His disciples, and which He commended. And it will mean obedience to God’s law, for that was where He promised there’d be blessing for us.
Is that what you’re ready for?
O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day (Ps.119:97).