Rob Genin, 6.13.23
In a recent Forbes magazine, there was an article titled, “America’s Richest Self-Made Women”. This is of course, a reference to the proverbial. “self-made man”. For whatever reason, when I read that title, my mind instantly asked, “Is there anyone who is really self-made?” The answer, of course, is no. No one has made themselves. We are all made by God. We are molded by our families. We are shaped (even when they are absent) by our fathers. Another word for shaping is “teaching”. To summarize all that fathers are to teach their children is beyond the scope of a one-page reflection. But Deuteronomy 6:4-9 gives us a summary:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words I am commanding you today are to be upon your hearts. And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
The people of Israel were called to know God. They were specifically called to recognize that Yahweh alone is the true God. They were also told to love God with all of their hearts and minds. This act of allegiance and worship was not for the adults alone; parents were entrusted with the sacred responsibility of diligently teaching the centrality of God to their children.
A few things this text makes clear:
1) Diligent teaching begins with learning. We cannot teach lessons which we have not already learned ourselves. The first thing God commands the people is that these words of confession should be “on their hearts”.
2) Diligent teaching is more than classroom instruction. Diligent teaching is constantly looking for opportune moments that occur – “when you sit at home and walk along the road”. Parents are to teach this truth at bedtimes and waking times.
3) Diligent teaching cultivates a welcoming environment. “Tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” Parents are to surround their homes and even themselves with God’s words and commands.
Did you have a father who taught you the truth about God? Thank them for their faithfulness. It is appropriate to honor our fathers and our mothers, not just one Sunday a year, but as often as we have opportunity – in the same kinds of varied ways that we are called to teach.
If you did not have such a father, do you (I speak to you men) desire to be a father to others in this way? Certainly, we should be fathers to our own children. We should also pray that God will help us to be fathers to others, as Paul said to Timothy, “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).
Ultimately, there are none of us who are self-made. And none of us are orphans! God is the Father of us all, and even if you never knew your dad or saw his love, God is “a father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). This is a rich and joyful fathering, full of his intimate care (Romans 8:15). God loved us and gave His own Son (Jesus) for us, so that we would not perish, but have everlasting, abundant life with Him (John 3:16, 10:10).
At YBL, we desire to help cultivate a legion of fathers who will diligently teach their sons. And we desire that every son would know that he is loved by a perfect and faithful heavenly Father who is there to lead, provide and protect him. We would be honored to serve you in any of these ways.