By Brent Barnett

This week’s topic: Fathers

Many men desire to be good fathers, but what really matters is whether or not they are godly fathers. Here are four Biblical principles that, by God’s grace, can be used to lay a sound foundation in helping fathers become godly fathers.

First, godly fathers are first godly men. It doesn’t work for fathers to bail out and say to their children, “Do as I say, not as I do” (Matthew 23:3). Children must be able to see an example of Christ in their fathers. Paul says to his spiritual children in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Until men by faith follow in the example of Christ themselves, they cannot be godly examples for their own children.

Second, godly fathers love their children unconditionally. Unconditionally is a significant word. It implies that love is not merited or earned and that the father’s treatment of his children is not dictated by what they can offer him in return. The father of the prodigal son stood waiting and watching for his son to return to him (Luke 15:20).

When he finally did return, the father didn’t judge the son or force him to earn back his favor, love, and approval. He simply embraced him and threw a celebratory party for his son (Luke 15:21-24). He could do this because his love for his son wasn’t based upon what his son could do for him but simply and strictly upon the fact that he was his son.

Godly fathers don’t make their children earn their approval, and they don’t use their children’s behavior as a condition for their love.

Third, godly fathers train their children how to love and honor God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Ephesians 6:4 echoes the Proverbs passage, saying, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Training in righteousness requires learning the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), for the Bible is how a child must come to know Who God is and what God wants.  In addition to instruction in wisdom and knowledge according to the Bible, there will also be a time for discipline.  Sometimes children will test their boundaries or act out, and they need to be corrected and disciplined.

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