Today I listened again to a radio commercial that bashed fathers as being ignorant, disobedient, deceptive, and untrustworthy. The children were painted as smarter and more morally astute than their dad - who was represented, as usual, as a buffoon. Some of this treatment is deserved, because too many men are very self-centered and self-absorbed. They don't really offer much to their families in the way of moral training or moral direction. They are the buffoon who sits on the couch after a day of work - beckoning for more beer as they watch television - usually sporting events which now run nonstop on the various ESPN channels. But this is not how things are supposed to be - Scripture has a different model for us to follow.
"Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father . . . " Here is where things are radically different in the way of biblical instruction. The father is the one calling to the sons and daughters - and he calls with a desire to offer valuable "instruction" to them. This word instruction acutally means to discipline, chasten, correct, warn, and instruct. This is not your garden variety "Father Knows Best" talks - this is serious stuff! This dad is not merely trying to teach his children something - he is committed to doing it even if it means that chastisement and correction are involved. Here is a dad that seriously wants his children to walk in the ways of wisdom. He desires for his kids to follow the Lord.
Any man who desires this knows that it will mean discipline and correction will be necessary. Children don't just go in the right direction automatically. In fact, because of the fall of man, you can be assured that they will NOT follow God as a natural course of living. They will need to be taught God's ways - and they will also need to be disciplined and chastised so that they learn to reject their flesh and embrace wisdom. Do not let us be like Eli, who offered a half-hearted rebuke to his sons. We need to correct and train for righteousness - preparing our children for the ultimate teacher, the Holy Spirit, to convict and bring them to the Savior.
The godly father also commands his children's attention in these matters. This is not something we can forgoe in life - it is a matter of life and death for our children. We must call them to listen and to know and understand as a result of what we do in disciplining them. It is only this way that they will get the discernment and truth that they will need to walk with God and follow as they should in His way.
Far from being the local buffoon, the man of God is called to a high calling. He is called to direct and discipline his children in the ways of the Lord. To do this will require us to give ourselves to the Lord and His ways. It will require us to reject the image of men in today's society - ignore the insults and caricatures of weak men - and instead forge ahead in the way God would have us live. It is my hope that from examples like this - people would see men - see fathers as indispensable to a goodly society that knows the right and rejects the wrong. Because whether our soceity knows it or not - they are absolutely vital to its success!