“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)
I think this verse is a powerful reminder to us that we worship and serve YAHWEH – the Almighty, Sovereign Lord, and because He alone is God we can fully trust in His promise of faithfulness and love. BUT this promise also comes with a condition – it is for those who love Him and keep His commandments.
This is a constant reminder to me that it is indeed a tremendous responsibility as Christian fathers looking after the spiritual development of our children to not only teach and show the way of the Lord to them, but even more importantly, to model what it means to love Him and keep His commandments.
This certainly means that our behaviour as Christian fathers must be consistent – be it at church, at the office, in the car, at home, when interacting with friends, neighbours, relatives, domestic helpers – in any situation that the children can see us in action. How we walk the talk has a greater impact than anything we can say to the children. I have come to realise that our children are rather forgiving, and because they respect us as fathers, they do give a fair bit of leeway for our mistakes. However, we should be ever mindful that inconsistencies between what we as fathers profess we believe in and how we really behave, accumulated over time, can and will inevitably inform the view of our children that all this Christianity thing they hear about in church is way too idealistic and even their parents cannot show them how to live in the right way.
While actions speak louder than words, we still must not neglect words as a means of passing on God’s Word to our children. In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (ESV) it says:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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.
I think it is very important for us to share our life stories with our children. They want to hear how God has been faithful to us and how God has worked in our lives. They want to hear of our victories in our Christian journey. But they need to also see and hear how we struggle through the problems and challenges we face every day.
I still recall vividly the stories my mother told us of how God provided for her family when they were struggling during World War II. My grandfather was killed by a military truck in an accident when my Mum was still very young so my grandmother, unschooled and poor as she was, had to bring up my Mum and uncle by herself. I still remember my Mum telling us that Grandma had a secret compartment – a loose piece of floorboard on the floor of her room, and every time my Mum needed money for school or whatever need, Grandma would open that compartment and find enough money to meet the need of the moment, always reminding her that God provides.
My own father passed away when we were very young. My brother was only 6 months old, I was 2, and my sister was 5. Mum was a school teacher and in those days teachers were not very well paid. However, we were never in any great need as relatives, church friends and neighbours gathered around my family to provide help. Mum kept one of my father’s jackets in her cupboard, and I still recall whenever we needed money for school or whatever, she would put her hand into one of the pockets of the jacket and find enough money to meet our needs and she, like her mother, would often smile and say, “See how God provides?”
A simple yet profound lesson – both through words, and demonstrating faith and trust in God, my grandma and Mum have left a deep impression on me about Jehovah Jireh, who has seen me through my own difficult times. In the same way I have made a conscious effort to pass this simple profound truth on to my children.
In our family prayer time each night we would share our prayer needs – be it studies, problems at work, problems with relationships, whatever the needs may be, and we would pray for each other. And as prayers were answered, we gave thanks and praise together. Such shared experiences and seeing God working in real life, has helped us as a family to grow stronger in our journey with God.
Well, my children have now all grown up, married and have their own homes. While they do not have children yet, my hope is that by God’s grace they would be able to continue to pass on all they have learned to their children if God so blesses them. To end off, I would just like to leave these questions with all of you to think about:
· How are we doing in passing on God’s family likeness to our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces?
· How have we impressed on these young ones the Word of God and His commandments?
· How can you help them to pass this family likeness to their children in time to come?