More Necessary for Us to Remain
A Father's Day reflection.
Every father is a pastor and a preacher. Every father is a shepherd of precious sheep. Every father is leading somebody to somewhere. He is teaching somebody about something. These are unavoidable.
Even if a father abdicates these responsibilities out of laziness and selfishness, he is still fulfilling them in some fallen, corrupted way. His children follow him into the pit of cowardice. They will learn the lesson of….whatever.
And woe to those who would cause a little one to stumble. (Matthew 18:6) It is a responsibility that should make every father tremble.
Yet, God always gives blessings with responsibility. I can’t think of a greater gift than when my daughter sits next to me and leans her head upon my shoulder. Or when my youngest son yells, “Daddy!”, runs up to me, grabs my hand, and drags me to the latest mischief he’s gotten himself into. Or when my other son asks me a question that I can tell he’s thought deeply about, and he trusts me enough to answer him and tell him the truth.
All of these are a delight. They are a privilege. And they have eternal consequences.
Our children are a precious gift, but they are not to stay the same as they are. Their souls need to be converted just like our souls. They are lumps of iron that need to be forged into sharp arrowheads (Psalm 127:4).
If you are a father, your children are the main reason you are here. And like Paul the Apostle, our sentiment should be directed by Heaven but bound to Earth.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:20-26, ESV)
Our work is fruitful labor (Proverbs 22:6). He gave you a wife because he desires Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). He commands us to never stop teaching them the ways of righteousness (Deut. 6:7 and 11:9). Every hour of every day is somehow devoted to this task. You imitate Christ, not only for your own sake but for the sake of the souls put under your charge.
It is good to long to be with Christ. But for those of us with children, with the weight of a kingdom on our shoulders, it is more necessary for us to remain. For their sake.
We long for Christ, but first, we must show Christ to our children. And so we should desire to stay here.
If Paul thought it better on the Philippians’ account that he should remain and minister to them, how much more so our own children?
Thanks be to God that this heavy responsibility comes in the form of a gift and is first made light with unspeakable joy.
Happy Father’s Day.
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