Faithfulness to our children and to our parents

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 6 – A closer look at the various types of people with whom we must be faithful

Likewise, when we become a parent, we are entrusted with another sacred responsibility, for which God will hold us accountable. This is especially so for fathers. Yet, what we see around us in the West doesn’t look much like this. There is a widespread abdication of responsibility by increasingly delinquent and feckless men. Many of them fail to take their duties seriously. There are lots of men who put their job, or even their hobbies, ahead of their children.

Being faithful to a child involves making a solemn commitment to devote ourselves to them. That means spending a lot of time with the child and putting the child’s needs first, ahead of what we want. In particular, it means taking responsibly for the child’s spiritual condition.

Too many fathers leave these issues to be dealt with solely or mainly by their wives. However, God will still hold fathers primarily accountable for their children’s spiritual condition, whether they realise it or not. God has commanded all fathers to teach their children about Him and about the Bible:

5 He established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 78:5-8 (RSV)

The emphasis that God places on the role of the father in bringing his children up to know and obey God flies in the face of our society’s attitude and assumptions about fatherhood. Even in better families, it is usually left to the mother to teach the children about God. But that isn’t how God views it. Therefore we need to get into line with Him, especially those of us who are fathers.

See chapter seven of Book One in this series for a more detailed discussion of our duties to our parents. The biblical method of social security is for adult children to look after their own parents in old age. We are to honour them and care for their practical and financial needs. Therefore start to see yourself and your siblings as having that responsibility.

View yourself as being at least one of the people who will care for your parents in their old age. God will still hold you accountable for how they are treated, no matter how much you might seek to offload that duty onto the State. The only exception would be if you are genuinely incapable of helping them, due to your own health problems or poverty etc. However, we should not be quick to assume that we come into any of those categories.

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