Principle #1: Our heavenly Father teaches us the importance of communicating to our children that we love them and that they are special to us.
Here we begin by recalling the doctrine of election, in which God declares that He has chosen us before the foundation of the world and has predestined us in His love to be His children. Paul stresses this point in his epistle to the Ephesians:
NKJ Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.We see how important it is to our heavenly Father to let us know that He has chosen us and that we are special to Him, even though we do not deserve it. This taught me a very important lesson as a young father, and I sought to let my children know how special they were to me as they grew up. In fact, from the time they were very little, I would often say to them, “If I could choose from all the children in the whole world to be my children, I would choose you!” I would regularly tell them, “I am so glad you are my son!” Or “I am so glad you are my daughter!” And I would regularly tell them how much I loved them, just as my heavenly Father has told me in so many ways that He loves me.
Our heavenly Father doesn't just tell us that He loves, though, He also shows us, as Paul reminds us in his Epistle to the Romans:
NKJ Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.So, just as our heavenly Father demonstrated His love for us by giving His Son Jesus for our sins, even so we must demonstrate our love to our children. And just as our heavenly Father's love for us is unconditional, even so we must demonstrate an unconditional love for our children through forgiveness, patience, and loving discipline. And, although we shall deal more with the issue of discipline below, for now we must see that our children need to know that we desire their obedience because we love them. They must never be led to think that they must obey in order for us to love them. They must always see the tender mercy of our heavenly Father reflected in our love for them.
But our heavenly Father's love is not only unconditional, it is also steadfast and unfailing, as Paul goes on to stress later in the Epistle to the Romans:
NKJ Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Just as our heavenly Father wants us to know that He loves us with a sure and steadfast love, even so we must communicate to our children that we will always love them. The demonstration of such an unconditional and undying love will help our children to grasp the wonder of God's love for His children, the kind of love the Apostle John describes in his first epistle:
NKJ 1 John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
NKJ 1 John 4:9-10 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
NKJ 1 John 4:16-19 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.Just as our heavenly Father has in His love for us removed all fear of His wrath and judgment toward us, even so we must show our children that they need not fear ever losing our love.
Thus we have seen examples of some of the ways in which our heavenly Father communicates His love for us. And in these passages we have seen not only that our heavenly Father tells us that He loves us, but also that He demonstrates His love for us through His actions. And this too is a crucial lesson for fathers. Just as our heavenly Father not only tells us He loves us, but also shows His love by giving His one and only Son for us, so also we must demonstrate our love for our children through our actions as well as our words. Such actions will be the primary focus of the remaining principles we shall examine.
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, in which I shall discuss Principle #2.