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"just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring
each one of you as a father would his own children" NASB
What if I could tell you that there was a way to guarantee that your children will be:
The presence of a Father in the home makes a tremendous difference in a child's future. According to a recent Gallup Father's Day Poll, 40% of men between the ages of 18-49 feel that their father was their greatest parental influence as compared to just 23% of men over 50.(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
I don't know if the difference is because of the people's age or the times they've been living in. I tend to believe it is the times. My gut tells me that fathers are spending more time with their children and are more actively involved in their upbringing than they used to be. And that involvement is paying off.
The message is clear-the presence of a father in the home makes a positive difference in a child's life. That is also the tone set in scripture. The Bible assumes the positive influence of the father. Jesus taught us to refer to God as "Our Father who are in heaven . . ." By Jesus' question in Matthew 7:9 we see that he assumed that a Father will always have a child's best interest at heart. He asked: "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?" In our text today, Paul was looking for an analogy to compare his work to and the analogy he chose was the father/child relationship. He used three words to describe the father's role, "exhorting (advise earnestly) and encouraging (give hope or confidence, to stimulate) and imploring (request earnestly)." All three of those words imply an intensity. We advise, we motivate and we give instruction, and we do all those things with intensity, because we know their importance.
Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." There are two commands in this text, one is negative, the other positive. On the negative side, we are not to exasperate our children. In other words, our discipline cannot crush their spirit or demean them. It is a thin line, that most of us have crossed. It is the difference between encouragement and discouragement.
Sometimes, I believe it is OK to take some time off from instructing our children and simply enjoy them. In his book, Being a Good Dad When You Didn't Have One, Tim Wesemann gives his readers a two-word piece of advice: "Lighten up!" He says that adults laugh an average of 15 times a day while children laugh 400 times. "Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we lose 385 laughs a day! That's a great loss!" Wesemann says, "Maybe we need not only the faith of a child but the funny bone of one as well." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Eccles. 3:4 does say that there is "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance." (NASB) Our relationship doesn't have to be intense all the time, sometimes it can be an opportunity just to enjoy the people our children are.
There is also a positive command here. Something fathers are to do. It is God's will for Fathers to train and instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.
When David Brannon looked back on the 22 years of preparing his daughter
for her wedding day, a couple of things stood out. David found it hard
to imagine that the little girl, who once had ringlets in her hair, was
now a high school music teacher about to become the wife of a Youth Pastor.