We live in a spiritually soft age. That God uses means, particularly a child’s father’s commands, is understood today to be a betrayal of God’s grace. Yet, when it comes to soccer or SAT scores we readily understand the necessity of commanding our children. “No pain, no gain,” we tell them. Meanwhile, we make no demands on their conscience because we’ve been told that doing so will lead them to a mere outward conformity and no further. The message we are teaching our children is that sports requires discipline, obedience, rigor while the spiritual life is one of unprovoked, spontaneous, soft emotion. We no longer speak of the spiritual disciplines.
We’ve come to believe that when it comes to sports and academics our children will come to see the necessity of hard work and discipline, and, in the end, will enjoy the fruits of such discipline. But, when it comes to the spiritual life, the pursuit of God, the keeping of the way of the Lord, any rigor, any accountability, any discipline is a sure way to make our children hate God. The antinomians have won the day.
Read Genesis 18:19: “For I have chosen him (Abraham), so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
If those words had not been inspired by the Holy Spirit we’d be inclined to dismiss them as legalistic and harmful. But there they, exhorting fathers everywhere to command their households to keep the way of the Lord. It takes faith in God’s means to do that, especially when we’ve been taught to stay silent, to manipulate rather than command, to convince rather than exhort. Not so when it comes to football: 2-a-days, strict diet, proper hydration, watching tape, learning from mistakes, cardio work-outs, weight training, “rub some dirt on it and get back in the game, boy!” Sunday rolls around and Johnny wants to stay home from evening church: “OK, son. Rest up for next week’s practice.”
We are to command our children to keep the way of the Lord. This way comes with a playbook that must be studied and memorized, spiritual disciplines, weekly meetings, continuous prayer, working out (our salvation with fear and trembling), buffeting (our bodies to make them our slaves), law to be kept, confessions to be made when unkept, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ, Savior of sinners.
Fathers, your children need to hear your commands to keep the way of the Lord. What you command is what you believe to be of ultimate importance. God has made you a father, a man in authority. Use that authority to the glory of God.
Here’s some sobering help from men who did not suffer from the softness of our era: Continue reading