This brief reflection is particularly for dads, but also for those who would renew their praying for the “fathers” in their lives.
First of all, read the following verses and reflect on them together.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? – Hebrews 12:3-7
Discipline is one of the most difficult tasks for a father to undertake. However, it is also one of the greatest opportunities to SHOW the father’s main purpose on this planet: TO REFLECT THE HEAVENLY FATHER AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO THE GLORY OF GOD, FOR THE JOY OF THEIR CHILDREN IN CHRIST!
I must say, this is an area I feel that I fail at frequently on two levels. Level one, I am too inconsistent in how our “feel” when I discipline my children. My aim in discipline is not always to instruct my children in the Lord, effectively reflecting a love that is willing to go that far. Too often I find that I am inconvenienced by having to discipline my children, which never produces the desired effect. Level two, I do not take the Lord’s discipline with the kind of pleasure I should. The Lord’s discipline is a precious thing that is always purposeful and perfect. I, however, allow myself to cheapen the Lord’s discipline by chalking it up to mere consequences of sinful action rather than correction for holy and blameless living. Essentially, God is not done with His children and will not cease to make them reflect being adopted into His family.
As a note, I have a great earthly dad who has made it easier to understand God’s love. So, these self reflections just point to the sinful depravity in all of us. In fact, I hope that this “honesty” may provide hope for the many who had poor examples of fathers: YOU CAN HAVE HOPE BECAUSE WHEN GOD ADOPTS YOU HE WILL CREATE WITHIN YOU A NEW HOPE AND FRESH LOVE FOR WHO GOD IS AS FATHER.
So, dads, be intentional in the discipline of your children. A lack of discipline does not show grace, it shows laziness and a lack of love for the future of your children. The scriptures are clear to us in this. Also, know that the intentionality in your discipline with your children will be a reflection of how you perceive God’s treatment of you. Essentially, get right in your view of God’s “parenting” in your life. Be strong and loving. Be masculine and tender. Don’t look to earthly instruction, look to scriptures. If you understand nothing else about being a good father than to begin parenting in such a way to show your children how God parents, then you will be on the right track and by God’s grace He will use you as a father to draw your children into adopted sons and daughters of HIS!