The Goal of Biblical Fathers
Andrew Bonar, the 19th century Scottish pastor, said concerning the teaching of children, “We tell them, ‘You are sinners, exposed to God’s wrath and curse, and you cannot save yourselves; but God’s own Son can save you, by Himself bearing that wrath and curse.’” In other words you teach a child to despair of all self-confidence and direct his desire for confidence to the grace of God. The goal of biblical fathers is to have children who say (with Psalm 60:11–12):
O grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the help of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.
A good father will ponder: How can I be like my own heavenly Father? How can I banish self-reliance from the heart of my children and fill them with confidence and courage and zeal and boldness that are rooted in the grace and power of God and not in themselves? How can I be the kind of father whose children do not lose heart or become spiritless or listless or sullen or discouraged, but are filled with hope in God and happiness in God and confidence in God and courage to attempt great things for the glory of God?
...Fathers, what you ARE in relation to God is far more important than any particular parenting technique you try to employ. Will your children hope in God if you hope in money? Will your children be happy in God if they see that fishing is a happier experience for you than worship? Will your children be confident in God if your whole demeanor communicates the desire to be seen as self-confident?
The most important work that a father can do for the sake of his children is to be converted. The most important strategy for rearing children is to become a new man in Christ—whose hope and happiness and confidence are in God and not in himself.
We know this is true from Scripture because there we are taught to imitate our heavenly Father. We are told to be holy as he IS holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are told to be merciful as he IS merciful (Luke 6:36). To be a good child is to copy daddy. It honors a father to be imitated, and we are commanded to honor our fathers. And so the most important question a father can ask is not what shall I teach my children, but rather who am I before the living God and before my children?
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