|Vol. 13 No. 6 June 2011||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
It has been correctly said, “If a man leaves behind faithful children, it is as though he never died!” How true! Inspiration divulges a narrative of a father who certainly lived some lessons that all fathers would do well to emulate. The narrative of Jairus (Mark 5:22ff) teaches us all some valuable lessons in parenting faithful children.
Firstly, Jairus came to the right place (cf. Mark 5:22). Jairus did not go to conventional books filled with the wisdom of the day. He did not seek the so-called professional parenting experts, but rather he came to the place where he knew the answers could be found – where Jesus was! Sadly, many fathers try the lake, the garage, the ball field or some other carnal place each Sunday instead of seeking the right place (Matthew 6:33)! Paul emphasized the need for fathers to come to the right place when he declared, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Jairus came to the right place.
Secondly, Jairus came to the right person (Mark 5:22-24). Fathers are sometimes the worst at seeking help. However, faithful fathers understand that raising faithful children requires help from the right person. In fact, the Psalmist portrayed the importance of coming to the right person, when he penned, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Jairus came to the right person.
Thirdly, Jairus had the right priorities. Obviously, the most important task of the day was for Jairus to help his daughter. Work, play, relatives and recreation all took second place. What a lesson for 2011 fathers! In order to really help our children, who are potentially dying spiritually each day due to this sinful world’s influence, fathers must prioritize! Priorities, like those seen in Joshua’s life, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15b). Priorities that seek the church of our Lord above everything else (cf. Matthew 6:33)! Often, our priorities will one day become our children’s priorities as well! What is number one in your lives, fathers? Jairus had the right priorities.
How wonderful it would be to leave behind faithful children! As John’s inspired pen divulged, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Fathers, what are you doing to leave behind this legacy? Take a lesson from faithful Jairus, go to the right place, seek the right person, and daily develop the right priorities! May God bless faithful fathers in this daunting task!
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
What is a father? Merriam-Webster online defines it as “a man who has begotten a child.” Is that all there is to being a father, the physical ability to produce offspring? In today’s society, there are those who think no more of it than this, whose concern is more gratifying their own sensual desires than in being responsible. However, for those who consider being a father from a biblical perspective, there is more to fatherhood than this.
When a man is joined in marriage to his wife, and then with the coming of children into that relationship, he must understand life is not just about his wants and desires, but about the well-being of his family. Yes, he is to consider the needs of his children, whether with providing food, clothing, education or needs socially and emotionally. Paul reminded Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Being a father, though, must also include the spiritual. Paul reminded fathers in the church at Ephesus, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Real men, real Christian fathers, are in the forefront of teaching their children spiritual principles of understanding the Word of God and its implications for their lives. Praise God for godly women and mothers who many times fill the gap when such fathers are AWOL in such spiritual training, but shame on dads who leave it to them, who are not involved in making sure they are more familiar with Scripture and the spiritual as they are with sports, television, video games and any other physical pursuit.
The statement of Paul to imitate him in his example of imitating Christ is an excellent statement of what a father seeks to do. He not only imparts his knowledge of Scripture by direct teaching, but in how he lives it out daily. The example of fathers is of utmost importance in helping shape children spiritually. Praise God for dads who do not send their offspring to Bible class and worship, but take them, accompany them, so they understand how important it truly is. Praise God for dads who have daily family devotionals, who pray in front of and with their children, who are not perfect, but do their best to show Scripture at work in their priorities, their speech, their actions, the whole of their lives and not just occasionally, but all the time. Being such a father is a lifelong endeavor, which points the way to the heavenly Father, to lasting values, to the hope of eternal life.
It is my prayer that Father’s Day stirs memories of such dads; it does for me. It is something I have tried, as imperfect as I am, to share with my children and now grandchildren. The closer to eternity I get, its value and importance become dearer, more urgent. This is what a father’s role is all about, to help his family understand nothing is more important than living for eternal life, of not only sharing in life today, but being part of heaven together. Bringing them up to be a success today is good, but it’s nothing if it’s a substitute for the spiritual. Bringing them up to have life today and eternally is best, is clearly where a father’s heart should be, the goal he seeks to instill in his family’s heart. For every father who loves, provides, disciplines, instructs, and lives a godly life for his family, thank you. This is what being a father is really all about.