It was a delightfully ordinary morning. I was well-rested, blessed by the routines of both the previous evening and the present day. I was enjoying the silence and stillness. Then my children awoke.
Though this happens every day, something was different. I was immediately on edge, listening critically to their conversation and actions. I felt like a coiled spring, ready to bounce upstairs to correct, scold, or yell at the slightest provocation.
We all know a bit about defaults. A default is a position assumed automatically without active choice. We’ve all accidentally subscribed to an email newsletter (or fifty) because we didn’t uncheck the proper box.
On this particular morning, my default position toward my children was one of suspicion and anger. Before they said or did anything, I took on an adversarial stance; I assumed they would soon need correction or discipline. I’m convicted as I remember this attitude, because it’s simply not the way a Christian should think about his kids.
A False View of God
Christian fathers have a weighty task. Whenever they interact with their children, they speak about God’s fatherhood. Like it or not, kids will learn what God is like as a father (in part) by watching, playing with, and listening to their dad.
In my posture toward my children, I was promoting a false view of God.
The culture at large thinks of God as a scold, a grade-school nun eager to draw blood from knuckles with a ruler. The clear, Scriptural evidences of God’s holiness and judgment are used to paint God as perpetually angry, just waiting for us to sin so he can strike. He may be merciful, but only as a last-second shield from his wrath.
These conceptions of God do not square with the biblical picture, especially for Christians.
The True View of God
If you are a Christian, God loves you (1 John 4:10). Your faith is an evidence of his love. He cannot love you any more, and he cannot love you any less. Full stop.
There is not a drop of his wrath remaining toward you (Rom 8:1). Every last ounce was wrung out on Jesus in your place (Rom 5:6–11). Because he is just, God is not waiting for you to fall. (Though he will pick you up when you do.)
Of course, God disciplines us as a loving father (Heb 12:3–11). But God’s discipline comes as needed, in just the right measure and at just the right time. It is never extraneous or excessive; it is never vengeful or disproportionate. His discipline is perfect and perfectly loving.
In short, God’s posture toward us is one of love.
A Godly Vision of Fatherhood
Perhaps the application for parents is clear. Our default posture toward our children must be one of love and peace. We should rejoice at the God-given relationship we have. Friends come and go, but these will be our children forever. Instead of suspicion and anger, my resting state with my children must be warmth and joy, especially if I am to teach them about God.
This posture doesn’t excuse sin or disobedience. In fact, it provides the biblical context for addressing disobedience.
I can love because I am loved. I can help because I have been helped. I can forgive because I have been forgiven. I can correct, guide, and instruct because my Father does the same for me.
For yourself, and for your children, this makes all the difference in the world.