Most of the people I know begin their prayers addressing God as Father. If you think about what you pray, that word “Father” should color your whole life. To a Jew the father was the authority figure in the home. His word was law, and the family obeyed.
For I have chosen [Abraham], that he may command his children and his household after him…Gen 18:19.
He said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law, Deut 32:46.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Eph 6:4.
One who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity, 1Tim 3:4.
Yes, a father is more than an authority figure, but these passages show us that is an important part of his role. This is what bothers me: our culture is doing its best to remove that part of the job from the father. How many strong fathers do you see depicted on television? Most of them, if any, are on the classic channels or old movies. Today’s TV father is hardly more than an incompetent buffoon.
Understanding authority is basic to understanding submission, a hallmark of discipleship. Even more important, understanding authority means you will be less likely to err in your relationship with God. God meant that the father in the family be one way the children were to learn about that Ultimate Authority. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you, Deut 8:5. Fathers, when you do not live up to the role God has put you in, acting as the authority figure who must be obeyed, who controls and disciplines, who raises up his children, you are responsible for any misunderstanding your child may have about what he can get away with in his relationship to God.
When you tell him to do something and then do not punish him for disobeying you, you are telling him he can get away with disobeying God.
When you allow her to wrap you around her finger and get whatever she wants, you are teaching her that God will let her do it her way too, even if it isn’t His way.
When you allow them to sass you, to talk back or otherwise disrespect you, you are telling them it’s just fine to treat God that way.
When your children get older, they will disregard plain commands in the Bible. They will say things like, “But God wouldn’t mind if I…” They will believe they can finagle their way out of Hell on Judgment Day because they finagled their way out of any orders you gave them, or because you were too weak to make a stand, or because you were afraid they wouldn’t love you, or any number of other excuses you might make.
They can blame it all on you and what you taught them about a Father’s role, and they will be right, but it won’t help either of you in the end.
Maybe it even says a little bit about how YOU perceive your Father in Heaven.
If you have a father who has taught you these things, be sure to say thank you this coming Sunday.
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? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it, Heb 12:7-11.