Standing on the Shoulders of Faithful Fathers

Family Dogpile

This Sunday we celebrate fathers … hopefully, you’ll join in the celebration with members of your family … if not in person, then via video or a phone call.

I love this photo of our “family dogpile” … circa 1989 … and now, all three of our children have children for their own dogpiles! It vividly reminds me that the Bible has a lot to say to fathers (and mothers) about the importance of passing along to the next generation a legacy of belief and trust in God.

What the Bible says

Moses reminded the Israelites on the eve of their entrance into the Promised Land …

  • “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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9).

Notice WHY Moses gave these instructions …

  • “that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.” (6:2)

Ethan the Ezrahite, whose wisdom was exceeded only by King Solomon (1 Kings 4:31), expressed a similar sentiment in song …

  • “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1)

Solomon himself wrote of the long–term benefits of fatherhood …

  • “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him!” (Proverbs 20:7)

The apostle Paul first reminded his young apprentice, Timothy, of these same truths, and then urged him to follow suit …

  • “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you …” (2 Timothy 1:5–6a)
  • “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2)

Notice the four “generations” listed here: Paul … to Timothy … to faithful men … to others also.

I am blessed to say that I am “standing on the shoulders” of a faithful father … who is now basking in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many of you may be blessed with multiple generations of faithful fathers who have preceded you. What will our children, and grandchildren, and great–grandchildren be able to claim?

I learned many valuable lessons as an undergrad Christian Education major at Biola University back in the early 1970’s. This truth remains the most memorable …

“It’s more caught than taught.”

Jesus illustrated this principle in action and compared it to how our heavenly Father relates to us …

  • “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9–11)

“Everyday Intentionality”

Let’s circle back to the Deuteronomy 6 passage for clues to making this practical in our lives today. Our circumstances may have changed from those of the early Israelites. The rhythms of our 21st Century lives make look very different. But the one constant from this passage that can still be applied today is what I’ll call “everyday intentionality.”

The root of the word “diligently” in Deuteronomy 6:7 means “to sharpen” … used to refer to sharpening a sword or weapon. This immediately reminds me of Psalm 127 …

  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

Hey, Dads and Granddads, what are we doing every single day to pass along a legacy of faith to our children and grandchildren? How are we diligently sharpening the spiritual character of the lives entrusted to us? Just as we are standing on the shoulders of faithful generations who have preceded us, what are we doing to strengthen our shoulders, so that others can confidently stand as well?

With a passion for “equipping & mobilizing men to follow Jesus,” my prayer is that we grow daily in grace and Christ–likeness, so that our children and grandchildren will follow our lead, standing confidently on our shoulders of faith.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

Happy Father’s Day!

~ tr

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