Saturday, June 20, 2009

6/21- Fatherly advice

(my son and I- 18 years ago at the beach)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/21- Father’s Day

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:1-4)

Calvin: Parents, on the other hand, are exhorted not to irritate their children by unreasonable severity. This would excite hatred, and would lead them to rebellion. Accordingly, in writing to the Colossians, he adds, “lest they be discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21.) Kind and liberal treatment has rather a tendency to cherish reverence for their parents, and to increase the cheerfulness and activity of their obedience, while a harsh and unkind manner elicits stubbornness, and destroys the natural relationship… The Greek word, (ejktre>fete,) which is translated bring up, unquestionably conveys the idea of gentleness and patience. To protect them from the common evil of spoiling, he adds, in the instruction and reproof of the Lord. It is not the will of God that parents, in the exercise of kindness, shall spare and corrupt their children. Let their conduct towards their children be at once mild and considerate, so as to guide them in the fear of the Lord, and correct them also when they go astray. That age is so apt to become spoiled, that it requires frequent admonition and restraint. (Commentary on Ephesians 6:4)

In our previously luxurious age, parents had a tendency (perhaps influenced by Dr. Spock’s child rearing theories) that we should make life as easy as possible for our children. It was seen as part of our sacrifice for our children. However, such sacrifice was not balanced out by a desire to guide and discipline our children to make good decisions. I might say some sacrificed so much at the altar for their children that the children took the place of God for them. Children can be mean task-masters for the parents who serve them. We need to be as Calvin says, “gentle and patient” (forebearing) with our children, yet at the same time balance that with teaching and rebuking from God. As we have drifted away from our biblical moorings, we have drifted away from a source of patience and grace. Since 1995 the number of child abuse deaths has gone up in America by 25%, and now a child abuse case is reported every 10 seconds. God calls us to be gentle with our children, yet also balancing that with discipline. Calvin said many times he did not have any blood children, yet he had many who were his children. Calvin gives us some good fatherly advice.

Prayer: Lord, help the fathers in our land to have wisdom in raising their children. Help the children to listen that they may live long in the land and that we all may be blessed.

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