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What's the role of a Christian father in the home?

By Joseph D. Meador

religion, articles, christianity

Q&A

Question:

Please give some Bible teaching concerning the role that the Christian father should have in the home.

Answer:

In Genesis 18:19, the life of Abraham provides us with many great lessons of fatherhood. Such themes as the father's personal devotion, sacrifice, and piety were developed in the life of Abraham as in the person of no other figure of patriarchy. The life of Abraham instills in the Bible student a desire to serve God with a selfless yet abundant faith. However, one of the greatest attributes of Abraham remains virtually ignored by many students of the Hebrew Scriptures. This often overlooked quality which was his abounding appreciation of his role as a father. In fact, God chose Abraham to become the father of the nation of Israel because he took seriously his own role as a father to his own children.

First. Abraham was known by God as a man who would "command his children and his household after him." We learn a great deal about family leadership from this ancient patriarch. Abraham commanded his children and his family. In essence he provided the desired direction necessary for the spiritual welfare of his own kinsmen. There is a vast difference between providing nurturing direction for children and family and the concept held by some men that they are tyrants and their iron will must be obeyed at home. The Christian man who exercises godly spiritual direction, and who leads with an attitude of love and concern will find that his children and family respond well to his godly leadership. On the other hand, the Christian man who seeks to force his will produces resentment from his family. But why? The answer to Abraham's effectiveness as a role model and family leader lay in the fact that he practiced what he taught others to observe. Notice the importance of Jehovah's statement about Abraham: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him." Abraham provided leadership through his own consistent behavior. He did not provide direction for his children that he himself did not observe.

Abraham Provided Spiritual Instruction (18:19c)

Second, the commands and guidelines provided by Abraham were carefully designed to impart spiritual truths. Primarily, his focus was intended to build up his children and his household in three important areas.

  1. To instruct his family to be obedient to the will of God. The Hebrew phrase: "And they shall keep the way of the Lord" means that there is a "way" of living, decreed by the Lord, which is best for man. The Scripture also affirms that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12). Therefore, the two ways are contrasted. Jesus commented upon this fact in Matthew 5:24 when he taught: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (lit., the material).
  2. To instruct his family to practice justice ("righteousness"); and
  3. To instruct his family to make righteous judgments (cf. Rom. 12:1­2). Indeed, how desperately we need such families today.

Fathers must provide clear and objective spiritual instruction to their families. The source for all of this instruction is the Bible-which is truth (cf. John 8:31­32; 17:17).

Abraham Provided Spiritual Goals (18:19d)

Third, in addition to Abraham effectively commanding his children and his household and by reinforcing it by his own obedient example; and in addition to the fact that Abraham provided spiritual instruction to his children and household, he also provided them with clear spiritual goals. Thus, the text of Genesis 18:19 states that Abraham's motivation in teaching his family and providing them with spiritual instruction was for the purpose of allowing them to receive the great promises of God (Gen. 12:1­4).

Fathers, how are you known unto God? Are you active in providing godly direction for your family? Are you a living example of that which you teach? Are you actively involved in providing spiritual teaching for your children and household? And, are you providing clear spiritual goals to your family? Indeed, how are you known unto God? Let us learn from the faithful obedience of this desert patriarch, because his lifestyle of devotion to God and family provides Christian men with a great role model for truth.

(Editor's note: In processing this article it occurred to the editor that Abraham's influence for good on his household was calm and tranquil. He never met with a stadium full of berserk men screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs that they were true to their wives and faithful to their children-nor did he need to. He simply went about doing his duty without advertising. Do you suppose the men of Promise Keepers have some motivation other than the good of their families?).


Published June 1997