By Irven Lee
It was several years ago that I saw a comic strip which pictured a little boy’s asking his mother, “Why did we get daddy?” Many children have not been blessed by their fathers as they should have been. We are being reminded in newscasts now that many little ones are being abused by the very people who should love and protect them. Some are neglected; some are brutally beaten; some are sexually assaulted. A nation is very sick spiritually when many helpless children need protection from their own fathers. Unbelief, drugs, and ungodly forms of entertainment have in some cases destroyed the part of man that is in the image of God, making him into a “natural brute beast” (2 Pet. 2:12 KJV).
A child should find a wonderful place of refuge in the presence of his father. He has a right to feel very secure in his arms. Food, clothing, shelter, and other essential things that money can buy should be considered the responsibility of the man who begat them (1 Tim. 5:8). A man who will not provide these things has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. It seems evident that there are many thousand men who cannot be depended on to meet these basic needs. Such men are not likely to read articles like this, nor do they read and meditate on the law of God.
Money is not the only thing that a man should provide for his children. If it were, he would not be missed if he died leaving a large insurance policy for his family. Children do not know how to use money, so if that is all they have from their father they are poor instead of rich. They can be destroyed both physically and spiritually by an ample supply of cash (Matt. 19:23, 24; Mk. 10:23-26). A good father may be a real blessing to his children in teaching them to restrain themselves and to have wisdom in the use of money. The young certainly need to be taught to earn. Citizens who prefer stealing, begging, or arranging for tax money for all their needs are unworthy of the food they eat. (See 2 Thess. 3:10.) One generation that will not work tends to bring up another generation in its own likeness.
Proper discipline is a prerequisite to righteousness. It is not a joyous experience to receive or to administer the chastening, but the peaceable fruit of righteousness is a wonderful thing to see (Heb. 12:5; Prov. 13:24; 22:6). Bringing up a child in the way he should go is not just a matter of wise use of the rod of punishment. There is need for teaching the wisdom of the past and the revealed will of God so that each generation may not make the same old mistakes that have characterized the past. Instruction may be given morning, noon, or night (Dent. 6:6-9). The wildest elements in America today are ignorant of things people have learned in past experiences, and of the revealed wisdom of God. They perish through lack of knowledge. The failure of a father to teach is a serious and inexcusable failure.
Israel’s history in the early period of its national existence gives an impressive example. “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel . . . . All that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim” (Judg. 2:7-11). Think how different the story would have been if the people had taught their children as earnestly as Moses asked them to do as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.
Fathers should win their children’s respect through their good examples and through their loving patience as they spend time with them. Children need to be guided into the company of worthy companions. Souls are involved (1 Cor. 15:33). Children are to be guided and trained just as they are to be fed and clothed.
A man has reason to rejoice if he has a pleasant, profitable, and challenging occupation, but he should also know that his position as a father can be just as pleasant, profitable, and challenging if he will put time into this work with precious material. Children are a heritage of the Lord (Psa. 127:3). Failure as a father can bring sorrow beyond measure. Success is possible (Prov. 22:6).
Fathers should provide training, chastening, physical needs, worthy examples, proper environment, and a family name of which their children will have no occasion to be ashamed.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 3, p. 70
February 3, 1983