From father to son
That thou mightiest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days might be prolonged. Deut. 6:2
Today is my oldest son's birthday. I can't believe the time has gone so fast! There are so many things I hope for him to be and experience as he grows into a man. But the thing I want the most for him is that he follow Christ with all his heart. I want him to be a godly man.
Deuteronomy 6 has a lot to say about this. At the very beginning of the chapter, we notice something that we are likely to miss in our very individualistic culture. It is this: God is very interested in the continuation and preservation of godly families. Why are they to obey the commandments of the Lord which he has given them (6:1)? It is so “that thou mightiest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days might be prolonged” (6:2). There is this wonderful emphasis upon the transmission of the faith from father to son. He is very concerned about men passing the baton of truth onto their children. He is pleased when there is the continuity of faith in the family line, when father passes to son and son to his son the faith once delivered to the saints. That is in fact the whole point of Deuteronomy 6, if not the whole book. It is not enough for fathers to see to their own hearts, but they must look to the hearts of their children as well. Like Job, the godly man is concerned about what goes on in the minds and hearts of his children (cf. Job 1:5). He does not just preach the gospel to himself, he preaches it to his children as well. He models it for them. He seeks to convince them that it is not just right but good for them.
Fathers, it is not enough that you practice the spiritual disciplines for yourselves. You must of course start there. But you must also care about the spiritual wellbeing of your children. Yes, we know that God is the only one who can give our children spiritual life. But this does not take away our responsibility as Christian fathers to testify to the truth and beauty of the gospel to our children. It is part of what it means to be a godly man. You cannot follow God if your life is not a continual invitation to your family, your wife and your children, to follow you as you follow the Lord with all your heart. This is not something you leave to others, not even to your wife. A lot of men do that. They rely upon their wives to bear the burden of the spiritual leadership of the family. But that is not what God’s word calls us as men of God to do. Even if you think that your wife is more spiritual than you are (and she very well may be!), that does not mean that you are allowed to take the back seat in the spiritual leadership of your family. Of course, neither does this mean you ignore your wife or her ability to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the family, but it does mean you so lead so that her gifts are amplified in the ways they should be.
Fathers, today let's renew our commitment to be the men God has called us to be. We may have failed in many ways (I know that I have), but don't let that discourage us. The grace of God is greater than our failures, his strength than our weakness, his wisdom than our foolishness, and his love than our selfishness. In Christ, through faith in him and in reliance upon his power and faithfulness, let us go forward in obedience to him who calls us to be faithful witnesses for his truth to our families and friends.