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April 8, 2009 / beidson

Faithfulness and Fatherhood: Why Dads Should Pluck Out Their Eyes Before They Cut The Grass

Being a father is about so much more than mowing the grass and providing for a family, though itfather2 certainly does not exclude these.  Biblical fatherhood is indeed concerned about temporal things like overgrown grass and bread on the table, but these are only important insofar as they are understood within the broader context of a much greater responsibility, a responsibility not primarily concerned about momentary matters, but about eternal choices and consequences.  Cutting the grass is good, but not if it is done to the neglect of cutting off the flesh and plucking out the eyes.  The primary responsibility of fathers is to leave their children something much better than a well manicured yard; it is to leave them a legacy of faith in Christ and faithfulness toward others.  Heaven and earth and well-groomed yards will pass away, but the Word of Christ endures forever.

What my kids need most from me is not a college fund or large inheritance.  What good are these things if I do not point them to a greater inheritance in Christ?  What’s more, if I am not able to give them these things, but am faithful to point them toward an everlasting kingdom, then I have done what I have been created and commanded to do.  I have been a faithful father.

But in our day, we are seeing the disastrous effect of an entire culture of faithlessness, particularly among young men.  Many of these young men are themselves fatherless, in a sense, at least in that they were never taught what it means to be a husband and  father.  The fatherhood of God was never displayed in front of their eyes so that they might learn to know, love and obey God.  The entire course of their lives is characterized by a noncommittal attitude toward everything.  Everything is increasingly centered on the self, and for many young men, they are the most important people in their lives.  At the threat of any invasion into their lives, many men flee anything which is more than superficial.  They are infidels in the strictest sense of the word: faithless, wayward men, running from Christ.

When we think about men like Adam, Noah, Eli and Solomon, we can see how their faithlessness toward God was eventually embraced and lived out in the lives of their own sons.  It wasn’t long after King Solomon’s death before his own son, Rehoboam, made the foolish decision to misuse his authority as king in a tyrannical fashion.  In a single moment, with one monumental error of judgment, Rehoboam split the kingdom in half and it was never restored again (at least, not yet).  But in reality, the kingdom had begun to split long before Rehoboam’s sinful decision.  It began when Solomon, the wise king, turned his heart from being wholly true to the Lord and began chasing after folly, contrary to his own counsel as recorded for us in Proverbs.  It began when Solomon became a faithless father, and exemplified folly before his sons, preaching to them a message of peace without purity, wealth without restraint, and the pursuit of knowledge disconnected from the One who knows all things.  What good are the Proverbs if they are left on paper?

With two kids of my own so far, I am continually pressed down upon by the weight of this great stewardship.  If there were ever a time for me to put away childishness and be a man, it is now.  Will my kids see in my life a holy reverence and faithful obedience to King Jesus, or will they hear me preach a message that I refuse to live out in a living room full of toys and chaos.  Will they hear in my words the distinct wisdom that comes from above, or will they soon realize that my actions really prove what I believe, contrary to what I say?  In the midst of ear-piercing screams, bananas on the floor, and a child who repeats her folly for the one-hundreth time in a day, will I be overwhelmed by it all and back away into my own little retreat, leaving the problems for my wife, or will I subdue the world God has given to me and be king over my home?  Will I go outside to trim the bushes and neglect to trim the flesh away from my own heart and my children’s hearts, or will I be like my Father in heaven, who prunes me faithfully so that I might produce even more fruit?  And when I am on my deathbed, will my children be more concerned about how to mimic my life, or about how they are going to embellish my eulogy so that the funeral won’t be so awkward?

For those of us who are slipping into darkness and drifting into trouble, remember, you are dragging your family along for the ride.  Do not be surprised when you reach the bottom and turn to see your kids by your side.  This is a generally speaking, of course; there are always exceptions.  God is gracious and often does break the cycles of sin and faithlessness that have wrecked so many families for generations.  And he can and does restore broken men and make them whole.  But do not be deceived; a man reaps what he sows.  And if it is faithlessness he is sowing, he should only expect a harvest of faithlessness at the end of his life.  This is no inheritance to leave your family.  If you leave them a field of weeds and bad crop, this is what they will have to live on, and like Jesus said, this crop will be pulled up and tossed into the fire.  What then will be left for them?

Above everything else, a man must be faithful, to others and to God.  A man’s faithlessness is uniquely disturbing since he is to show the fidelity of Jesus, the Man, to the world in which he lives.  To distort this is to make orphans and widows out of wives and children.  Not all men will be fathers, but all men must be fatherly in their demonstration of the gospel.  Of course, those who reject the gospel cannot faithfully demonstrate fatherhood since they are telling a story about life which does not begin first with Jesus the Creator.  But Christian men are able to do so, and ought at every moment and with every breath to tell the gospel story in their living.  Christian fathers should be the men who pluck out their eyes so that they might leave behind a legacy of faithfulness, rather than enter hell with both eyes wide open.

God is faithful.  He has kept his promise.  He has given Eve a Son, and her Son has bruised the serpent’s head.  And this Son is soon to invade the cosmos with a word of judgment against Lucifer and his lovers and save those who have cried out for his return.  Everything fits into this story.  Faithlessness finds its beginnings in the Garden and now manifests itself through divorce, pornography, lying, hating, and all other kinds of self-righteousness.  But faithfulness begins and ends with Christ, and manifests itself not only in the cross and resurrection, but in a father who will not abandon his children, who bears the fruit of patience on a chaotic living room floor under a pile of rowdy children, who, on his deathbed, is able to preach his own eulogy.  A faithful father will leave his children the gospel, not just in the pages of his favorite Bible, but on the hearts of those for whom he sacrificially lived and died.

And he may leave behind a good looking lawn too.  But his children will know that he did not pluck out his eyes because he loved his yard, but because he loved the King much more.  And this is why his yard always looked so good.

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