Parents, do you have a plan for your kids’ spiritual growth? At LifeWay, we’ve developed the LifeSpan spiritual growth strategy for children, from infants to high school seniors. Regardless of your kids’ ages, you can be confident that LifeWay curricula, events, and other resources provide targeted objectives that encourage spiritual growth with a strong biblical foundation. Bret Robbe explains how you can do all of this while keeping your family worshiping and growing together.
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Following is an excerpt from the Leader Kit of Honor Begins at Home: The Courageous Bible Study.
Jacob provides the most descriptive example in Scripture of a father blessing his children (see Heb. 11:21). Nearing death, he gathered his family together and blessed each of his sons and also his grandsons who were fathered by Joseph. In this time, men would bless others by prophesying over them concerning future blessings. This could include praying to God on behalf of the person being blessed.
Most of the time, the future blessing was given in regard to past behavior. Often, a faithful son received a promising blessing. An ungodly son received a dreadful blessing.
When a father gathered the family together to pronounce blessings, both positive and negative moments were relived. In the case of Jacob, he reminded Reuben of his sexual immorality and Simeon and Levi of their violent anger (see Gen. 49:3-4, 5-7). He praised Joseph for his fruitfulness and steadiness (see vv. 22-24). With such verbal blessings, a gift of land was often distributed. The weight of these blessings was felt deeply because the prophecy surpassed the son’s life, on to his descendants.
While biblical prophecy occasionally ventured into set days or events, the prophets usually presented messages similar to those a parent would deliver to a child. “If you continue to do this, your future will look like . . .” “If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to discipline you.” Prophecy usually addressed the natural progression of a person or people concerning their obedience or disobedience.
Apply that to Jacob’s blessing, and we understand more clearly. Simeon was a violent man. Jacob discerned that in his son and prophesied that violence was in Simeon’s future (see v. 7). From Jacob’s example, we learn that fathers are to bless children with appropriate words and gifts.
Blessing a child with appropriate words means telling the truth. “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit” (Prov. 12:17). Fathers are not to enable children for continual disobedience.
If your children are walking down a path that leads to destruction, the best blessing you can give them is to tell them of looming danger. Conversely, if your children are walking faithfully in the Lord tell them of the great joy they give you (see Prov. 10:1).
Jacob played favorites with his sons. While his extreme favoritism with Joseph caused family drama (see Gen. 37:3-4), Jacob still resolved to give gifts of land to his sons in a way he deemed appropriate. Normally, the more trustworthy the son, the more generous the gift. Jacob had experienced so much of God’s gracious provision that he did not want to see it thrown away by unreliable sons.
The blessing on Jesus
The idea of a father’s blessing is not as prominent in the New Testament due to the church’s functioning as the people of God. In these pages the best example of a father blessing his son is evident in Jesus’ baptism.
Within the pages of Scripture, biblical blessings happened at pivotal moments (near a father’s death, baptism, etc.). God chose to bless His Son at a pivotal time. Coinciding with His inauguration into ministry, Jesus traveled to the Jordan River so John the Baptist, His cousin, could baptize Him (see Matt. 3:13). “After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matt. 3:16-17). At the transfiguration, the disciples heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5).
Through the Father’s words, we see how a father should bless his child in three specific ways.
Acceptance – The Father wanted listeners to know that Jesus was His Son. Fathers show their acceptance by addressing children according to who they really are, not who they desire them to be.
Adoration – God had no problem telling the world that He adored Jesus. As a beloved Son, Jesus knew that His Father was crazy about Him and didn’t care who knew it. Fathers should express the type of love that treasures their children and delights in them.
Approval – Not only did God tell people that He accepted and adored Jesus, He also wanted all to know that He approved of Him. He told the disciples to listen to what His Son had to say. When a father tells a child that he is good at something and everyone should know and benefit from it, few compliments in this life will ever surpass this one.
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