The Instruction of a Father

[582 words]

Fathers are important to the development of children. We are thankful for those men who take seriously the command of Ephesians 6:4 by lovingly bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord rather than provoking them to anger. In their interactions with their children, fathers must avoid relating to them in such a way as would discourage them (Col. 3:21). Above all pursuits of making one’s children happy, promoting their worldly success, protecting them, or having harmonious relationships with them is the primary responsibility to teach them to follow the Lord’s word. 

The first thing a man can do to teach his children to love the Lord in obedience is to set the example himself. In Deuteronomy 6:7, the command was given to teach the Lord’s words diligently to one’s children; however, before this is the greatest command of all: “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5). A man must first have God’s words treasured in his own heart before he imparts them to others (Deut. 6:6). Children are perceptive enough to know what their parents value and whether or not those values mesh with what their parents say. If I ask another to do as I say but not as I do, then my teachings will fall flat. Instead, Deuteronomy 6:7 shows how this instruction takes place along side all of the daily tasks; the Lord’s words are to be repeated and applied whether one is sitting at home or walking along a pathway, whether one is preparing to go to bed or arising to meet the day’s work. 

Deuteronomy 6:8,9 continues the thought with, “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” A Jewish tradition of phylacteris arose where these verses of the Torah (such as Ex. 13:1-16; Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21) were placed in a small box and worn on the forehead and the forearm (Mt. 23:5); however, this tradition seems to be an overly literal application of Deuteronomy 6. Just as God’s words are not literally put on one’s physical heart, but in a figurative way etched into the mind through memorization and reflection (Deut. 6:6), so these words were to be formative to the conscience by constantly thinking on them in everything one set out to accomplish. Phylacteries are usually worn only on special occasions of prayer, but God’s word is to be with us always. It is not always practical to wear a box, but God’s word has application to every facet of life. If fathers follow Deuteronomy 6:5-9, then God’s word will be central to their lives. A father who undertakes painstaking efforts to engrave the words of God on the hearts of his children looks forward to this reward—that those words will be there to stay long after the father is gone.

Fathers, take time to be with your children. Love the Lord and cherish His words. Speak those words to your children all throughout the various activities of life. Discipline your children. Instruct them in the Lord’s ways. Love them enough to prepare them to live a wise and righteous life here on earth and an eternity in heaven. 

Mark Day
Flatwoods church of Christ
Flatwoods, KY

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