Fathers, have you struggled with how to handle disciplinary issues with your children? We can take our instruction from how God responded to Adam and Eve when he found them naked in the garden. He handed out the necessary consequences, but then showed love. Let’s take a look in Genesis Chapter 3.
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
And then later, in verse 21, we find this:
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
He clothed them. Such a simple statement with profound meaning. It would be so simple to just pass right by that statement. So what? He made them clothes. They were naked. But why did he clothe them? I agree with Pastor Steven Furtick, He did it to show them love even as he was punishing them for what they did.
Imagine the disappointment and anger God felt when he found them naked and hiding. Now think about your own children. Remember a time when one of your children did something that caused you to feel deep disappointment and anger. How did you respond? More often than I would like to admit, I’ve gone to one extreme or the other.
There have been times that I handed out the consequences and forgotten the love. I didn’t even want to write that sentence, but it’s true. At times, I can be the heavy-handed disciplinarian which leaves the kids feeling upset and unloved. Sometimes I catch myself and go back to the child to explain or show the love I should have shown in the first place, but not always. Sometimes I completely blow that opportunity.
There have also been times when I’ve been so worried about showing love that I didn’t hand out the much-deserved consequences. I’ve thought to myself that if I hand out the consequences, I’ll push away the child. But the reality is that I’m not showing love by doing this either.
Our children need both. They need fathers who fairly hand out deserved consequences. But they also need fathers who clothe them in love. They learn from us. Even when we aren’t explicitly teaching, they learn from us. We need to be teaching them that actions have consequences, both good and bad. But we also need to be teaching them love. We need them to know we love them. It’s even more important that we model Christ’s love to them and make sure they know He loves them too.
If they grow up with that, they’ll pass the same message on to their children, and their children’s children. That’s the legacy I want to leave. How about you?
In the trenches,