You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Deuteronomy 5:9-10 (NIV)
The first day I held my oldest daughter was one of the most transformational moments in my life. Dramatic changes took place in my heart and mind; changes to the way I viewed everything. She was beyond beautiful, a culmination of my wife’s and my love for each other. Every day her personality bubbled to the surface and we discovered the wonderful person God had designed her to be. Unfortunately the ugly stain of sin that had touched the rest of humanity was unwilling to leave her unblemished.
This is the challenge of fatherhood, to remember that we are a sinful breed, prone to selfishness and pride. Our recognition of this trait is the first step in overcoming it for our sake and the sake of our children; confession preceding repentance. It is our willingness to maintain the discipline of confession and repentance that helps us lead our children into the same practice. We can teach our children to do well in school, make healthy choices and use good manners, but if they don’t understand how to live right with God we leave them adrift.
As fathers we have to face sin in ourselves and our children with honesty and hope. We cannot lead our children to freedom in Christ if we do not recognize their human condition. We cannot hope for a better life for our children if we do not teach them the path to righteousness. There are too many examples of sinful cycles repeating again and again in families, from father to son, mother to daughter. With the help of God, that cycle can be broken through love and obedience.
God does not leave us alone in this great challenge. He walks before, behind and beside us through the journey of fatherhood. His story as our heavenly Father, from the garden to the great judgment, is rich with wisdom and knowledge for us as earthly fathers. In the days ahead, I pray that this devotional blog will be a blessing and a challenge to fathers who desire to live the life of God with their children.