It has been said, “Any man can father a child, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” The point of this sentiment is that what a man does with his offspring is more important than the mere ability to produce them. It is a message that rings especially true in our modern world, where the problems associated with single mothers and their children severely challenge society. There are many underlying issues related to these problems, but a major factor in them is men who fail to fulfill their God-given responsibilities toward their children.
God’s word has always required fathers to care for the physical and spiritual needs of their families. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus illustrated the benefit of praying to God by speaking of the way in which fathers care for the physical needs of their children. In Mt. 7:9, 10 He said, “Or what man is there among you, who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?” The obvious answer to these rhetorical questions is, no, a father would not do such a thing, because a father wants only what is best for his children. God our Father never neglects our needs, and He is the perfect example of how earthly fathers should provide for their families.
It is a shame when a father neglects his children’s physical needs, but it is even worse when he neglects their spiritual needs. When a father fails to provide for the spiritual needs of his children, he puts their souls in jeopardy by doing so. Paul commanded fathers to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This requires a commitment on the part of the father that is just as demanding as going to work each day to put food on the table. A father who is dedicated to raising his children as Paul commanded must be a student of scripture himself, knowing God’s word and able to communicate its precepts to his children. He must be one who demonstrates his faith in his words and deeds, so his children may see how a godly man lives and how God’s word molds one’s life. If a man makes this commitment, he will give his children the best gift they will ever receive. He will give them the opportunity for eternal life.
If a man fails to make this commitment, or if he is inconsistent in this commitment, he sets the stage for a spiritual tragedy in his children’s lives. One of the greatest tragedies that may occur in a family is for a man to forsake Christ as an adult, after having been obedient in his youth. Such a man is, as the scriptures declare, worse off than if he had never known the truth (2 Pet. 2:20, 21). However, when he chooses to forsake his salvation, he robs his children of the opportunity to even know salvation in the first place. The same is true if one forsakes the church in order to join a denomination. He knows the truth and forsakes it, but his children will never know the truth. Fathers who take this road will bear a heavy burden in judgment.
The solution of many of society’s problems is as simple as fathers being faithful to the commands of scripture. If men were to be more godly in their conduct and more committed to knowing and obeying God’s will, there would be fewer homes without fathers to guide them. There would be fewer children who are morally adrift and spiritually bereft. There would be more complete families active in the service of the Lord, and there would be more souls on their way to heaven.
May God bless all men who faithfully fulfill their responsibilities as fathers, both physically and spiritually, and may He grant us more men who will do His will in this most sacred obligation.