(To read the first parts of this series, please see this link.) The Thursday night prior to Nathan and Melanie’s wedding, we had a “friends of the groom” fellowship. At one point in the evening, two brothers in the Lord were discussing a bit of their common past, while several of us were listening.
They are both West Point graduates and were reminiscing about some of their experiences there. In particular, they were sharing several of their more distressing situations. One told how on occasion he was given orders to do things that were impossible. The one giving the order knew it was impossible but did it to hone the young cadet’s obedience. Both brothers confessed they had wanted to quit many times, but they would not allow themselves to do so. Isn’t it interesting that the military believes that to be a good leader, you must be obedient?
Our neighbor, who is a city police officer, had just finished his dinner break when he walked across the ice-covered street to comment on Nathan and Melanie’s wedding the previous Saturday. He said he appreciated being invited and how much it meant to him. I told him we weren’t sure whether to invite him. Because of his busy schedule, we were concerned the wedding invitation might be an imposition. He said that he loves watching our children grow up, and when he is old, he wouldn’t miss one of their weddings even if he had to be pushed in a wheelchair. He went on to say how he takes great pleasure in our children, as he is involved with children every day who don’t know how to obey.
Not only do the lives of those in the military depend on their ability to be obedient, but our children’s lives do as well. I doubt anyone would question the truth of that statement. However, how aware are we that the lives of those in our family are greatly affected by our ability to obey as well. Drive at speeds exceeding the law, and your family is in danger. If you choose to cheat the government and lie about your taxes, you may go to jail—now that will affect your ability to provide your family with food and housing! If a dad won’t obey his boss, he is at risk of losing his job. Men love their freedom, but often the family suffers consequences if Dad doesn’t obey those he should.
It is impossible for a dad to be a good leader if he isn’t obedient. First, his family knows he is a hypocrite if they see Dad being disobedient while he tells his family to obey him. He may get away with it for a while, but he will eventually lose his children.
Saved dads are both children and soldiers. We are children of God and soldiers of Christ. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
It was no accident that the Holy Spirit led Paul to refer to those saved as both children and soldiers. There should be no doubt about the importance of obedience in our lives as we endeavor to lead our families. However, do you also get the feeling that obedience is a “dirty” word in Christian circles these days? Begin talking about obedience, and freedom fighters will start crying, “Legalism, legalism!” I hear much talk about freedom in Christ and very little about obedience. Has political correctness neutered God’s Word in the church?
Those who are saved are to obey the Lord Jesus and His Word. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21).
Just to be certain there is no misunderstanding, obedience does not earn us salvation in any way, shape, or form. It is, however, evidence of our salvation and love for the Lord. The verses just read confirm that obedience gives evidence of our being saved. The point that the freedom fighters miss is that we obey because we love the Lord Jesus. We don’t obey to earn salvation, but we obey out of love for our Lord. The One Who is our Model and Lord was obedient unto death, and He expects our obedience (Luke 17:10). Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” That is really very simple, isn’t it? Those who love Him little, obey little.
A father’s level of obedience will affect how he leads his family and how his family follows him. First, Christ said obedience reveals one’s love. If we love Christ, we will obey Him, but if we don’t obey Christ, we reveal our love for ourselves. The family knows Dad better than anyone, and as soon as they know anything about Scripture, they are looking to see if Dad is obedient. If Dad isn’t obedient, he will be seen as a hypocrite, and his family will not want to follow what he says. They will tend to follow his example.
A father’s obedience to Christ gives the family confidence in his decisions. They will see that Dad makes decisions based on his obedience to his Lord and Scripture. They will respect Dad as a man of God.
Unfortunately, the disobedient dad’s family will not have confidence in his decisions. Dad’s self-love will cause the family to suspect his motives when he makes decisions. Selfish decisions are easy targets for whining, complaining, and arguing against. If the family member can make Dad miserable enough, then selfishly, Dad may reverse the decision to give himself a little peace.
Obedience makes leading a family much easier than disobedience. Decisions based on the Bible and God’s direction are pointless to attack, as those assaults would have to be directed toward God. It changes the whole attitude in the home.
Obedience will protect your family from sin. In Exodus 24, Moses, Joshua, and the elders went up Mount Sinai as the Lord instructed them. God told the elders to wait at one place while Moses and Joshua climbed higher. Then Moses left Joshua alone and completed the climb to the Lord.
Moses was with the Lord for forty days! I find that absolutely incredible. There is so much more I would like to know about that time. They weren’t told to bring any food, and we can only assume that God intended to somehow sustain them for that long. Moses fasted the entire time and so did Joshua.
But what about the elders? “And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them” (Exodus 24:14). The elders were told clearly to wait for their return. Yet they did not obey (Joshua did obey and look how God later used him). As a result they turned to idolatry by worshipping the golden calf, were immoral, and many were slain. There are tremendous blessings with obedience and chastening with disobedience.
It is likely that many reading this Corner are experiencing discipline from the Lord as a result of disobedience and thereby causing the whole family to suffer. Brothers, repent of the disobedience and wrong choices, and God will pour out His blessings.
Each of us dads, who is a child of God, must take the Bible seriously and obey Him out of love for the Lord Jesus. May we say, “Lord, I will do whatever You tell me to, when You tell me to do it.”
May each of us pick up our Bibles and prayerfully read them every morning as we begin our days. Then we should obediently apply the lessons to our lives daily. It will make leading our families so much easier, and it will cause each of us to strive to keep our lives clean and pleasing to the Lord.
“These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17). “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).