In school, I preferred fill-in-the-blank questions to essay questions. I think that might be true for most of us. Consider for a minute a special fill-in-the-blank that could save your children from abandoning the faith. Are you game?
What if our children were to fill in the following statements about us?
_____________________ is most important to my father.
My father talks most about ________________________.
I don’t know about you, but I find these rather heavy. I believe that if my children answered them candidly, I might get a picture of who I really am. Unfortunately, I may not want to know the answers!
In Judges 6:13, the Lord is speaking with Gideon. The Lord has just told Gideon he is a mighty warrior, and He is with him in spite of the fact that Gideon is acting in a very cowardly way. Then we read, “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Now what does this verse have to do with the fill-in-the-blank statements above? I think there are several points worth considering.
If the fathers had been living God-fearing lives, Israel would not have been in the mess they were. God was chastening the nation because the fathers were not living as God had called them to. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years” (Judges 6:1). The fathers were not telling the children that all of this oppression was a result of the fathers’ sin. Instead, they seemed to blame the Lord for having abandoned them, as if He didn’t love them anymore. Actually, the truth was the Lord did love them and wanted to punish them so they would cry out and return to Him. Dads, are we experiencing hardship or chastening that is a result of our lack of devotion and love of our Lord?
The fathers were actually telling their children about the wonders the Lord had performed. Many dads have felt they were doing all they needed to do by telling their children about the Lord. Maybe they were even going so far as to read to them from a Bible picture storybook at bedtime. Even though that is good, it isn’t enough. You see, our deeds speak for us. During the day, we will automatically talk about what really is important to us, and we will live out our values. These fathers were telling their children about what God used to do. However, all children need to see fathers living their lives dedicated to serving a living, loving God. Our children should have fathers who love the Lord so much that they can’t help but talk to their children about the tender mercies and goodness of the Lord Jesus. Our children will grow up like we really are, not who we tell them they should become.
Instead of the Lord receiving the blame for difficult circumstances, He should be praised for His goodness when He is disciplining us or leading us through times of trial. Do we only love Him when times are good? Do we want to teach our children to love us only when they think we are being kind to them?
I pray this, “Oh, Father, may we demonstrate our love for You constantly to our children. May we be quick to confess our failures and not blame the consequences of our sin on You. May our children see their father praising You, Lord, and being quick to pray to You. May You be the first and most frequent topic on our lips. May my children know by my actions that You are the One I love more than anyone or anything.”