In our first study about fathers and sons, we saw that God has called on fathers to discipline and correct their children in the same way our Heavenly Father disciplines and corrects us. God Created men in His image and likeness, so we need to look to God to understand our purpose in the family, the Church, and the world.
God “formed” men from the earth to “form” things from the earth. Men are formers, leaders, providers, and protectors in the home. Our wives look to us to accomplish those things in the lives of our children. The result of doing that? “A wise son makes a glad father.” (Proverbs 10:1) The result of not doing that? “A foolish son is a grief to his father.” (Proverbs 17:25) “A foolish son is the ruin of his father.” (Proverbs 19:13) How does a son become wise? “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.” (Proverbs 13:1) The Hebrew word here translated “instruction” is the same word from Proverbs 1:8 – musar – meaning “discipline” and “correction.”
The Apostle Paul wrote often about the importance of the father’s role in the family. In Ephesians, before telling men about their role as father, Paul told them to love their children’s mother – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) I heard someone say many years ago that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. How true! Men loving their wives is one of the highest human examples of how God loves His people. What’s the purpose of that kind of love?
“… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. ” Ephesians 5:26-28
Notice three things Christ’s Love accomplishes for the Church: sanctify, cleanse, present. The Greek words – hagiase, katharisas, paristemi – mean “set apart for holy service,” “free from impurity, spotless, without blemish,” “to set beside.” How does this happen? “… with the washing of water by the word.” “Washing” is loutron and speaks to the effect the Word of God has on the activities and behavior of a believer. It is through that process the Lord presents His Church as glorious, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Jesus wants men to do the same thing for their wife – “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” Men loving their wives is part of fathers training their sons to become men of God.
Important note: The work of disciplining and correcting children has the potential of becoming unbalanced. Look at what Paul wrote fathers about this in his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians.
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
The word “provoke” in Ephesians 6 is parorgizete and means “arouse to wrath anger, exasperation.” The word in Colossians 3 is erethizete and means “stir up” in a negative sense. How does a father do that? How does a father arouse or stir up a child to become so angry that they become intensely irritated, infuriated and annoyed?
Fathers – what is in your heart when you discipline and correct your children? Are you angry, irritated, infuriated, frustrated, annoyed? Or are you filled with love for your child and want only the best for them – knowing that the best thing you can do for your child at that moment is to discipline and correct them? Children will respond to their fathers in the same way their fathers discipline and correct them. Children are sensitive to emotions behind actions. They can see in your eyes and body language and hear in your words (or lack of them) and the tone of your voice what emotions are driving you to discipline them.
Discipline and correction are when men can teach their children so much about God’s love. God teaches us in many different ways – including discipline and correction. Does God love us less when He disciplines us? when He corrects us? Of course not. God’s Love is always perfectly balanced. That balance is an important lesson for human fathers as well. Children need discipline and correction to learn how to deal effectively with the many challenges of life. Fathers discipline best from a position of love and compassion – just like our Heavenly Father.
In the next part of our study, we will look at the important role fathers have in the Church.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”