What should a Christian father be like according to the Bible?
The Bible speaks frequently and clearly regarding many of the responsibilities and privileges of Christian fathers. One of the important aspects of Adam's life was his role as father. Genesis specifically mentions three of his sons—Cain, Abel, and Seth. Later, Noah's three sons find both partnership and protection as they join in the ark and survive the Flood with Noah, their mother, and their spouses. Abraham would later become a father in a remarkable way and would further serve as a "father" to Israel through whom all people would be blessed (Hebrews 6:13-15; Genesis 22:15-18).
The Law of Moses gives instruction to fathers. Of primary importance are the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-7: "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Several observations can be made based on these words. Fathers are to know God's Word, study it, teach it to their children, and be involved on a daily basis with their kids.
In Proverbs, additional wisdom is given regarding the responsibilities of a godly father. For example, Proverbs 22:6 teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." A father likewise provides discipline to children (Proverbs 3:12).
In the New Testament, specific instructions are given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Negatively, fathers are not to "provoke" or frustrate their children through parenting that hurts their kids. Positively, fathers are to instead teach their children God's Word to provide wisdom for living well and to help children come to salvation.
Jesus also highlighted the importance of a father to provide for his children when He taught, "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11). Though speaking of God's role as Father, the principle includes a father's desire to care for his children and to show them love as a godly thing.
Children, however, are not only a father's responsibility; they are also a father's privilege. Psalm 127:3-5 declares, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!" Children are a gift from God to be cherished and nurtured by fathers. Christian fathers can help encourage a legacy of godliness as Joshua declared years ago, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
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