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!
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3
When our children were little, we used to tell them they have one job and that is to obey.
This seems like a simple enough idea. But, if you have spent any time with children, you know that job is actually not very simple at all. There are times when it seems like the hardest thing in the entire world for children to do what their parents ask them to do with a respectful attitude.
One reason it’s difficult for children to obey and honor their parents is because they need Jesus and you need to lovingly tell them that. As they struggle to obey, whatever you do, don’t lighten the seriousness of their disobedience. Don’t act as if obedience were no big deal. That is not where real hope comes from. Instead point them to the Savior who loved them enough to take the punishment for their sin of disobedience.
When our children don’t do their job, obey, which is often with nine children, we discipline them, talk with them, hug them, and pray with them that God will give them a new heart. I remember asking one of our children what they wanted for Christmas, and, they said they wanted was a new heart, and it’s because they had seen their sins and need for Christ.
We had an incident not too long ago where one of our children was saying she was sorry to another child, and that child wouldn’t accept her apology, she just turned her back to the one who was saying sorry and was ignoring her. And I thought as I came out to speak to them, what is in our hearts, that, even as young children, little sweet girls would treat each other this way? And so I talked to her about what her actions revealed about her heart and she began to weep and as she wept, I then moved on to try to encourage her, that she should feel sorrow but also hope, because she isn’t loved by God because she is a perfect little girl who always does everything right but instead God showed his love to her by sending His perfect Son to take the punishment for her sins if she trusts in him to forgive her and change her from the inside out.
This kind of shepherding is so important. Because, in spite of all the evidence in our lives, it is very difficult for most of us to believe that we are so bad we need a Savior like that, and so fathers, as your children struggle to honor and obey you, you always want to try to take advantage of those moments to show them their need of Jesus.
The hard time they have obeying shows their need of Jesus.
We spent a few months running a Bible club in a rural township in Africa where a hundred to two hundred children would attend. One time I asked the group of children who here has ever sinned and only three little white hands went up. That’s not surprising, because, children need to be taught they are sinners who are in need of a Savior.
Are you lovingly teaching yours?
Take Time to Reflect:
- Do you believe your children desperately need a Savior? If deep in your heart, you don’t, then you shouldn’t be surprised they don’t!
- We need to encourage our children. But we shouldn’t flatter them. What’s the difference? How can you lovingly help your children see their sin without being overly critical and unkind?
Sit down with your children and ask them to share the gospel with you. If they are unable, you need to start here. If they are able to share the facts of the gospel, take the next step, and ask them whether they personally have experienced conviction over their sin, whether they sense their need of a Savior. If so, have them give you an example of when they felt their need for Jesus, why, and what they did or think they should do as a result? You want to discern whether they understand their problem, know the solution, and whether they have acted on that.