No more daunting challenge can be laid before a man than to share the same moniker God has chosen for Himself—i.e., “father” (Matthew 6:9). Clearly, the God of heaven is the perfect model for every earthly father to follow. Nothing will more thoroughly prove and improve a man’s character than the challenge of being a godly father.
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul states the profound challenge of godly fatherhood with a “do not” and a “do”.
- Do not: “provoke your children to wrath.” The word “wrath” used here denotes a settled and abiding mindset which develops over time. This commandment earnestly beseeches a father to not make a habit out of misusing his parental authority. This authority, including chastisement—an essential part of being a godly father (Hebrews 12:5-11), must be exercised in such a way as to make a child better, not bitter.
- Do: “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”. Psalm 128:3 compares a child to an olive tree. These trees are slow-growing and thus require years of patient nurture and care before they reach maturity. (How prudently God has created our physical world to teach spiritual truths!) The proper nurture and care of a child requires training by action (i.e., correction and chastisement) and training by instruction (i.e., teaching, warning, and encouragement), especially in spiritual matters.
Since a child is expected by God to be obedient to his parents in all things (Colossians 3:20), a godly father must exercise great patience, self-control, and unselfishness.
What a challenge of godly fatherhood is!