Day 26: Faith
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.
My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
Dads, train your children to put their faith in God. One day I was sitting on our living room step, silently confessing my spiritual weaknesses, when my son came down from his nap. He sat next to me and we prayed together for a bit. Then after a few moments, he asked . . .
“Daddy, why are you sitting on the step?” (He associated sitting on the step with having a time-out). So I told him that I was praying for our family. Yet as I made that incredibly pious statement, I thought about all the times my boys had seen me watching TV, working on the computer, or reading a book. This was the first time any of them had ever “caught” me in prayer. Now, of course, I do not pray to show off for my children, but I certainly do not pray enough. Praying regularly with your children trains them to put their faith in God.
Dads, also rely the Spirit of God (Eph. 5:18b), for the Holy Spirit will empower you to lead your children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (6:4). “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him” (Prov. 23:24). Here is biblical hope for countless parents who face the challenges and confusion of child-rearing: “Keep going! It’s worth it! Have faith that God’s way is the right way.” For the Proverbs are not a sledgehammer of guilt, but an encouragement to hope. So “trust in the Lord with all your heart” (3:5a), then trust him with your child’s heart.
“Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (23:25-26). Note carefully this proverb does not say, “My son, give me your behavior,” as if outward change was most important. Nor does it say, “My son, give me your physical presence,” as if all that matters is placing a child in the right place at the right time: “Get them to church and a Christian school, so they’ll turn out all right.” No, verse 26 clearly states, “My son, give me your heart.” So also, “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad” (v. 15; see 27:11). A godly father is like the diligent farmer who sows in faith. The farmer plants when the field is bare and the seed is small because he envisions the future harvest. So also, the wise father faithfully parents according to biblical principles. Parenting is a life of faith, so trust in the Lord and not yourself.
Beware of acquiring an ownership mentality: “These are my children. They belong to me, so I can train them whichever way I want.” Do not forget your parenting goal to make disciples and lead your children in a Godward direction. You are merely an instrument in God’s hands to point your children to God’s glorious story and the grace of his redemption. You were transformed by God yourself who did not call you to this task of parenthood because you were able, but because you were unable. Dads, in your weakness, God alone receives the glory (1 Cor. 1:31). He parents you as you parent your children. He exposes your daily need for grace and reveals how your story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation finds its place in his greater story. God will never call you to a task without giving you everything you need to do it and he never sends you into the fray without also going with you.
At times, you may forget your identity in Christ and seek to find it in your children. You may worship your children by sacrificing all your time and money, thoughts and desires at the altar of your family. Yet realize that children make terrible idols, for they are lost and rebellious, foolish and blind. They will chew you up and spit you out if you prop them up as idols to do your bidding. They will always disappoint, for they are self-ruling sinners who do not care about serving you. So dads, root out your own selfish desires before you root out theirs. Come before the Lord, confessing moments you have made your children into idols. Seek God’s grace to train up your children in love, obedience, and truth. Then trust the Lord to transform their hearts to be like his. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” and with your children’s hearts.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Guard my heart from making my children into idols for my own satisfaction. Show me how to raise them in the Lord and not to please my pride. Strengthen my faith in you as a testimony to your goodness that will lead my children to personal faith as well. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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