Good fathers

The Standard June 17, 2021

It is wonderful to watch fathers whose interactions with their kids reflect some of the ways God responds to us. Because of love, good dads impart wisdom, provide for the needs of their children and discipline them when necessary.

Each Christmas Eve my husband points out to our kids one of his favorite parts of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When a young George Bailey realized his employer Mr. Gower, the druggist, accidentally had put something poisonous in a batch of pills, he was not sure what to do. George noticed an advertisement on the drug store wall which said, “Ask Dad. He knows.” This prompted George to take a detour from his pill delivery route in order to talk to his dad and to seek guidance. Scripture tells us to obey our parents and to learn from them.

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.” (Proverbs 13:1) “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.” (Proverbs 15:5)  “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well. The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” (Proverbs 23:22-24) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)

The earliest job of parents is to provide for the basic needs of their young ones. Later in life fathers and mothers might not need to offer sustenance, but tend to enjoy giving their children special things. God the Father understands our needs and desires and provides us with more than we could ask or imagine.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:7-12)

Finally, there is a stereotype that fathers tend to be disciplinarians more so than mothers. While this is not necessarily true, wise parents know how to establish limits for their children and how to discipline them.

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  (Hebrews 12:4-11)

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