“My son, give me your heart." (Prov. 23:26)
One of the biggest crises facing our country today is not who the next president will be (though, we should be concerned about that). This crisis goes far beyond party affiliations, class, or race. It is the crisis of fatherhood, or better stated, the crisis of the absence of fathers.
So the greatest need today is fathers who love Jesus. Many men do not have happy memories of their dad. Some do. But, across the board today, men face an uphill challenge when trying to be a biblical father. They have not seen it modeled and so do not know how to do it themselves. Below are three principles of biblical fatherhood that have helped me grow as a man and a dad.
A biblical father is concerned, first and foremost, for his own spiritual welfare. There is nothing more important than cultivating our daily walk with the Lord. If we are not passionate about Jesus, neither our wives nor our children will be, generally speaking. In one sense, becoming a biblical father is simply being a disciple of Jesus. Are you a follower of Jesus? You and I cannot be good dads until we are in a right relationship with our heavenly Father. Only Jesus puts us in a right relationship with our heavenly father, by his free grace alone.
Maybe you are a follower of Jesus. But you feel like you have lost your passion for Jesus. He wants to stir it up in you again. He longs to see us become the men he created us to be—passionate, full of life, enjoying his good gifts, leading our homes and families. Why not take a moment this morning and ask God to renew your passion for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit? Rest on this promise as you do so: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)
A Biblical father fosters an environment in his home where the grace of Jesus saturates everything that takes place. The proverb cited above comes into play here. Becoming a biblical father means we are more concerned for our children’s hearts than their outward behavior. Don’t mistake me: how our children behave is important. In fact, what we do is an expression of our hearts. But we must target the heart in our discipleship of our children if we want to biblical fathers.
How do we reach the hearts of our children? We let the grace of Jesus saturate our homes, in everything we do. For example, a dad full of God’s grace frees our children from the tyranny of feeling like they have to measure up to some standard we have set for them, in order to earn our affection. Instead, the grace of Jesus teaches us (and them through us) that the Father’s love and acceptance are never earned; they are given freely (Rom 8:32). How many of us are still trying to earn our earthly father’s approval? What freedom the grace of God brings! We know God our heavenly father never tells us to earn; he simply gives and gives and keeps on giving. He gives us the power to do the same.
Finally, a biblical father protects those under his care from himself. A friend of mine once remarked, “I used to think the biggest threat to my family was someone breaking in our home and harming them. Then I realized the problem was already in my home. My temper and my anger were the biggest threat to my wife and my children.” Stated simply, the biggest problem in our homes is us. Our sin never stays in one place; like a stone tossed into a quiet lake, our sin produces ripple effects that touch everything and everyone around us. Do you struggle with anger? Porn? Prescription drugs?
There is good news. Jesus stands at the ready, “full of pity, joined with power,” as the old hymn put it, to help us. He knows all of our junk and loves us still. He is not ashamed of us (Heb 2:11). He invites us to join him on the journey of discipleship, promising to change us as we walk with him. What an amazing Savior!
Becoming a biblical father means, therefore, that we begin as sons—sons who have been adopted by the heavenly father through the blood of Jesus (Eph 1:3-6). As adopted sons, we enjoy the everlasting love of the heavenly father, who invites us to answer the high calling of growing into biblical earthly fathers.