A Father’s Love

Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13).

Often when I share the Gospel with people in our day, the question arises concerning the character of God. In the popular mind there seems to be the idea that a God of love cannot be a God of justice. The two qualities are mutually exclusive.But the popular idea is wrong.

Perhaps that is why our Creator placed us in families – to offer us a perfect example of the balance of these two attributes. As a father, there were times when I wrapped my kids in my arms and loved them. If You could be a fly on the wall observing us, you would conclude, “There’s a dad who loves his kids” (and you would have been correct). But it wasn’t unknown, when I released them from my hug, for my mischievous son to irritate his sister or brother or do some other forbidden action. My next move might have been to discipline that son firmly (depending upon the severity of the offense).  As the observant “fly on the wall,” you might conclude, “There’s a dad that has a wrath against sin” (again, you would have observed correctly).

Does a father stop loving when he disciplines? Does he set aside his standards when he loves? NEVER! A parent knows that he can love his child infinitely and unconditionally and still express his anger over sin. Indeed, as I used to tell my kids, “I love you too much to allow you to  think you can get away with [whatever attitude or offense he committed] when you get older. Because I love you I want you to know that this attitude will result in pain for you.”

But I also have observed over the years that there is a difference between the love (compassion) of a father and that of a mother. Though my characterization is not absolute, Mom is often there to soothe the hurts and to comfort a child; Dad is often the one to tell a child to endure a hardship for the reward that will follow. Hence, he disciplines and the child “runs to Mama.”

According to David’s Psalm (quoted above) God’s compassion for men is more properly characterized as a father’s compassion. He has standards and expectations and He knows that those standards require obedience and discipline. He doesn’t just ooze with good intentions and sentimentality.

As a man Dad recognizes that he has a task to do that gives him fulfillment and gladness, and he knows that his greatest joy is found when he is able to provide for those he loves through that purposeful work. It is this sense of purpose and fulfillment that he desires for his child – male or female – so that his discipline reflects that desire.

The God of the Bible is like that. There is a larger purpose behind His discipline and the whole correctional process. That discipline – wrath, if it must be so severe – is really a function of His love.

 

 

Take Hold of Instruction

Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her for she is your life (Prov 4:13)

Being instructed is hard. It rubs against our pride by forcing us to admit that there is something lacking in us, and everything in our society tells us that we are complete and adequate in ourselves, just as we are. There is nothing in us that requires instruction, at least not morally; men are basically good in themselves. If there is a flaw, society will take care of that through its Department of Corrections. The emphasis in public education upon “self-esteem” undermines real instruction. No longer does a student have to master a certain body of material; he is given passing marks so that he will feel good about himself. As a result of this unBiblical philosophy, larger numbers of our society are having to be “corrected.”

But Solomon’s words to us – if they are followed – actually help us live satisfying lives, because they keep us humble. We don’t think “more highly of ourselves than we ought to think” (Rom 12:3). We recognize in these words that there is real life…satisfying life…fulfilling life…abundant life, not a pretense of life like we see in the characters on TV and the movies. That’s why Solomon tells us to “guard her.”

Primarily Solomon has the informal instruction of a parent to his child in mind, but it is not outside the meaning here to think of formal instruction. Some professions expect a certain amount of “Continuing Education” or “Professional Development” of their members. My own course in seminary is stretching me to read things that I might otherwise have set aside. In some cases I have read books that I had not known existed, books confirming certain convictions in me but which I had no idea had been put into print. The confirming of those convictions has been a great encouragement to me, in some cases delivering me from an “Elijah Syndrome,” the feeling of being all alone in my ministry.

I’m glad I “[took] hold of instruction.”

Take Hold of Instruction

Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her for she is your life (Prov 4:13)

Being instructed is hard. It rubs against our pride by forcing us to admit that there is something lacking in us, and everything in our society tells us that we are complete and adequate in ourselves, just as we are. There is nothing in us that requires instruction, at least not morally; men are basically good in themselves. If there is a flaw, society will take care of that through its Department of Corrections. The emphasis in public education upon “self-esteem” undermines real instruction. No longer does a student have to master a certain body of material; he is given passing marks so that he will feel good about himself. As a result of this unBiblical philosophy, larger numbers of our society are having to be “corrected.”

But Solomon’s words to us – if they are followed – actually help us live satisfying lives, because they keep us humble. We don’t think “more highly of ourselves than we ought to think” (Rom 12:3). We recognize in these words that there is real life…satisfying life…fulfilling life…abundant life, not a pretense of life like we see in the characters on TV and the movies. That’s why Solomon tells us to “guard her.”

Primarily Solomon has the informal instruction of a parent to his child in mind, but it is not outside the meaning here to think of formal instruction. Some professions expect a certain amount of “Continuing Education” or “Professional Development” of their members. My own course in seminary is stretching me to read things that I might otherwise have set aside. In some cases I have read books that I had not known existed, books confirming certain convictions in me but which I had no idea had been put into print. The confirming of those convictions has been a great encouragement to me, in some cases delivering me from an “Elijah Syndrome,” the feeling of being all alone in my ministry.

I’m glad I “[took] hold of instruction.”