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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Jan. 2, 2008

  • 2008 Jan 02

Landmarks of a Loving Father: Part I

In Paul's day, there was a Roman law called the patria potestas, which literally meant “the father's power.” This law allowed the father to have absolute power over every single member of his family as long as he lived. He could sell them all as slaves, make them work in his fields in chains, and he could even take the law into his own hands and punish any member of his family as severely as he wanted, even to the point of inflicting the death penalty.

In a letter from 1 B.C., a man named Hilarion writes to his wife, Alis, and gives us some insight into how children were viewed. It says, "Hilarion to Alis his wife, heartiest greetings. Know that we are still, even now, in Alexandria…I beg and beseech you to take care of the little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I send them to you. If---good luck to you---you have another child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it" (Papyri Oxyrhynchus IV, 744).

Paul was speaking to a world where the children were severely abused. The parent-child relationship was as sick as it is in our society--and by the way, no worse!

Fathers must be FAIR. Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV) How are we as dads unfair at times? The great reformed bible teacher William Hendriksen suggests some ways fathers embitter their children.

Beware of overprotection. Let the boys be boys, not little girls. Beware of favoritism. Remember Esau and Jacob's mom Rebecca? It embittered those around.

Beware of discouragement. If we always say they will never amount to anything, they might believe us. Beware of destroying individuality. God has made and gifted each of his children uniquely; let God make them as He plans.

Beware of neglect. Put the work or TV to bed early and spend special and long times with those fast passing childhood days. Beware of bitter words and outright physical cruelty. Do not correct them in anger. James 1:20 “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (NKJV)



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