Devotional: June 22, 2020
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
Ephesians 6: 1-4. The Message
Although you will be reading this on Monday, I am writing on Sunday, Father’s Day. I had a wonderful day with two of our sons that live in the area. The family time made me reflect upon what scripture has to say about relationships within a family. These days, due to the shutdown, relationships within families have been a larger focus.
This passage from Ephesians paints a picture of balanced and healthy relationships between parents and children. Each has certain responsibilities, but the power dynamic between the two is not equal. Nonetheless, parents, and speaking as a father, are encouraged not to be so hard on a child that it causes exasperation, frustration, and so many other things. A healthy relationship when younger children and youths are at home can eventually lead to having a wonderful relationship with your adult children.
Other passages in scripture talk about the importance of discipline. Discipline is important, but it should not come without love. In some translation, Proverbs 13:24 reads, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. However, too often that bible verse is seen as endorsement of extra harsh discipline. Can you imagine if that was God’s theme when it comes to being a Father to us? Ultimately, the goal of all parenting, including fatherhood, is to lead children into the way of the Master. We want children to develop a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father.
As God’s children, we strive to follow God’s loving leadership. Therefore, we need to have a soft place in our hearts for those entrusted to care, as we are in the care of our Heavenly Father.
This goal reminds me of my favorite verse from Proverbs about parenting. “Train up a child in the way he (or she) should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
We once had a plaque with this verse on it in the kids nursery, together with a picture of a toy train. This pun-loving pastor appreciated the double meaning behind the word “train” as both a part of the verse, and a child’s toy, each meaning having something to do with children.
Even when our children are grown, we are still their parents. We always love them and care about them, even worrying a little about them. Yet it is rewarding to watch them continue to grow and learn. Healthy relationships continue to be nurtured within the family, just as God continues to nurture us, in our relationship with Him.
I had a great Father’s Day. I hope many dads out there did as well. I know that for some people, this is a more difficult day. I am so sorry about that. Thankfully, we do all have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally, encourages us, and continues to train us up, no matter how old we are.
Lord, we thank you that you are the Father after whom we model our lives and relationships. Help us always to keep our eye on the goal of loving and caring for others, just as You do for us. Thank you for the gift of families, whether they are related to us, or even friends who feel like family. Give us the patience we need, and allow others to show the same kindness that You show towards us.
We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name.