I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!
“Therefore, I the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” Ephesians 4:1
It’s possible to accept the gospel with your lips and deny it with your life.
Some fathers flat out reject the gospel. That’s a problem. Others however are little more subtle. They verbally accept the gospel at church and yet go out and live by a completely different set of truths throughout the week. That may be even worse.
They say they believe God created the world, but act as if they were the ones in charge. They say they believe their children were born sinners, but act as if the most important thing they could do was increase their self-esteem. They say they believe the incarnation but act as if God’s unconcerned about them. They say they believe in justification by faith alone but become furious when they are criticized. They say they believe in the resurrection of the dead but then neglect their families and their spiritual responsibilities for financial gain.
While your children desperately need you to teach them the gospel, they also need you to show them you believe the gospel through the way you live your life. Your daily life, your “walk” as a father, should reflect your faith. It should be “worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” In other words, there should be a resemblance between the life you are living and the truths you are proclaiming. Believing you are accepted by God and adopted into His family solely because of the work of Christ should make some very significant changes in the way you relate to your families as dads.
Let me tell you three.
First, believing the gospel should keep you from self-righteous parenting.
If you are convinced you deserve hell and your only hope is God’s grace through Jesus, then you are going to be a grace giving father. You are not going to act as if obedience were always easy for you and you are not going to talk like you always get everything right the first time you do it, and you are not going to overreact and belittle your children every time they sin. Instead, you are going to learn to be patient with them and practice forgiving them the way God has forgiven you.
Second, believing the gospel should keep you from over-reacting in parenting.
If God loved you, He loves you. God doesn’t change. If He loved you enough to send His Son to die in your place, you can be sure, He is still working for your good even now. And while that doesn’t mean everything that happens in your family is going to be easy, it does mean as you respond to whatever difficulties come up, you must not start acting like the situation is completely out of control and that nothing good can ever come out of it. Because, that would be a lie. God is in control and He is able to use difficult circumstances and, even real sins to accomplish His great plan for your life and for your children’s, as well.
Finally, believing the gospel should produce an inexpressible joy in parenting.
Because of what Jesus did, you are going to live forever. One day your body is going to come flying out of the ground and be transformed into a resurrected body that is going to be so glorious that even the angels are going to stand in awe. How does that not produce joy?
There’s a day coming when you are going to live as a perfect person in a perfect world with perfect people enjoying a perfect God, perfectly. Forever! And while your life right now is sometimes going to be hard and painful and frustrating, it won’t be that way forever. God loves you and plans to shower His grace upon you forever, and one of the greatest gifts you can give your children, is to live like you really believe it.
Because, you do!
Take Time to Reflect:
1. What could your children point to in the way you live your life that believe the gospel?
2. Can you think of any other ways the gospel should impact the way you parent?
See if you can summarize the gospel message in one paragraph. Then looking at what you’ve written down, try to identify five implications of the gospel for the way you are living your life.