The Bible doesn’t give us a parenting manual – a specific list of “how to’s” for most any conceivable situation – but it does give us a number of important principles to apply in parenting our children, and, in order to adequately set forth these principles, I can think of no better place to begin that with the fact that God has revealed Himself to us as a Father. This means that we will discover the ideal of fatherhood expressed in His person both in relationship to Jesus, who is God’s Son by nature, and in relationship to those of us who believe and are thus God’s sons by adoption.
I personally have found this fact to be very helpful in my own journey as a father for – as some of this blog’s readers can also attest – I did not have a very good role model in my earthly father, who divorced my mother when I was young and who did not become a Christian until after I had grown up and left home. I thus entered fatherhood as a believer with a fair amount of fear and trepidation. But I quickly discovered that, although I didn’t have a good earthly father as an example to follow, I did have my heavenly Father as an example to follow. Thus over the years anything and everything I have learned about being a good father I have learned from Him. Indeed, the Scriptures invite me to do so, not only by way of implication due to the fact that God has revealed Himself as a Father to us, but also quite explicitly in numerous passages. For example, our Lord Jesus repeatedly invites us to see our heavenly Father as a pattern for our lives. Consider the following admonitions:
NKJ Matthew 5:44-45 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
NKJ Matthew 7:9-11 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being 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!
What better pattern for a father could there be, then, than our heavenly Father? I certainly cannot imagine a better model to follow. As J.C. Ryle has aptly noted in his classic work on The Duties of Parents:
The Bible tells us that God has an elect people, a family in this world. All poor sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace, make up that family. All of us who really believe on Christ for salvation are its members.
Now God the Father is ever training the members of this family for their everlasting abode with Him in heaven. He acts as a husbandman pruning his vines, that they may bear more fruit. He knows the character of each of us, our besetting sins, our weaknesses, our peculiar infirmities, our special needs. He knows our works and where we dwell, who are our companions in life, and what are our trials, what our temptations, and what are our privileges. He knows all these things, and is ever ordering all for our good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order to bear the most fruit—as much of sunshine as we can stand, and as much of rain, as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet. Reader, if you would train your children wisely, mark well how God the Father trains His. He does all things well; the plan which He adopts must be right.
Thus each principle we will examine relates in one way or another back to God as our heavenly Father and our supreme example for parenting. The four principles will be as follows:
First, our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of letting our children know that we love them and that they are special to us.
Second, our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of the loving discipline of our children.
Third, our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of raising our children to know His Word.
Fourth, our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of a proper view of both a father’s and a mother’s role in the family.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series, in which I shall devote one post to each of these principles. In the meantime, if you have an interest in reading a couple of blog posts about motherhood, here you go: