Day 8: Authority
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Dads, let your words reflect God’s holy Word. Be able to say to your children: “Keep my instruction” in the same breath as you say, “Receive God’s wisdom.” Let them know that if they please the Lord, then they also please you. You are a spokesman for God, not yourself, and especially not for them. Your children, however, will often test parental authority with the penetrating question: “Why?”
“Go wash your hands before supper, dear.” “Why?”
“It’s time for bed.” “Why?”
“Clean up your room, please.” “Why?”
Now certainly as parents we want to encourage curiosity. We want our children asking “Why?” of the world. Yet their knee-jerk response of asking, “Why?” is too often just a clever attempt to disobey.
They are not asking why soap and water cleanses the microbes from their fingers or why a clean room is preferred to a messy one. They are asking why we have the right to interrupt their playtime and questioning our God-ordained authority. And the standard parental response (as if from a manual) is, “Because I told you so.”
I had such an opportunity when one of my boys said, “I’m thirsty.” So I replied, “Okay, go get your milk.” And he snapped at me with attitude, “No! I’m not going to get my milk!”
You could hear the collective gasp around the dinner table: “Oh no, he didn’t!” I think he even surprised himself. I knew I had to say something quickly as I felt the eyeballs of my other boys boring into the back of my head. So after picking up my jaw from off the ground, I said to him very calmly: “Who’s the daddy? Who’s the son? Who listens to whom?” My son then immediately went to get his milk. Why? Because I told him so.
Yet Scripture provides us with an even better response: “I told you because God told me. God has appointed me in his Word to be your earthly authority who will teach you the wisdom of God for your protection and your benefit. God has also appointed you by his sovereignty to be my child and to trust me as your God-given authority (see Eph. 6:1).” Many children think they have it all figured out and are ready to take charge of their life, yet God has given them parents for their own protection and guidance. He commands children: “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land’” (v. 2). Parents possess wisdom to keep children safe both physically and spiritually from the dangers of this world. They might be wrong at times or occasionally provoke their children to anger, but children are still commanded to obey their parents in the Lord.
The pattern of wisdom teaching in Proverbs describes fathers instructing their sons who then become fathers who instruct their own sons. It’s not the other way around. Parents do not go to children for advice, but to someone wiser, and ultimately to the eternal God for biblical counsel. You don’t ask your children for advice about marriage or taxes or real estate. So why should you let them run the home? Instead, may wisdom cascade down the generations like a fountain of life (13:14). Dads, instruct your children, “I told you because God told me.”
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to parent my children under your authority and remind me that my authority is God-given and directed for my children’s good. Teach me to be tender toward my children both through my words and loving care. Guide me to only say to them what you have said to me in your Word. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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