My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
Great fathers, stand up. Let your sons see your confidence and boldness. Ask for their hearts, on the basis of having their perfection your highest goal. Ask them to follow your example and instruction, on the promise you will live and teach the pure wisdom of God.
You live in a generation without men (Is 3:1-15). Men are AWOL from their great duty and privilege, the training of God-fearing men for the next generation. They are too preoccupied with their own lives, too selfish to care, too lazy to train, too weak to lead, too corrupt to follow, to fearful to confront. One weak generation of men begets another.
But men who fear the Lord and have a holy fire burning in your hearts, here is your opportunity. Lay claim to the sons God gave you. Ask for their hearts, and give them a clear and holy path to follow by your example and teaching. It is the reason for your position as father over them, and it is one of the most valuable things you can do. The Bible exalts the potential of such instruction to four generations (Ps 78:1-8; Joel 1:1-3).
God chose to perpetuate His truth and wisdom by fathers (Gen 18:19; Ex 10:1-2; 13:8,14; Deut 4:9; 6:1-22,6-7,20-25; 29:29; Josh 4:6-7; 24:15; Ps 34:11; 71:18; 145:4; Eph 6:4). Solomon’s book of Proverbs is primarily instruction to his son (Pr 1:8,10,15; 2:1; etc.), which role and instruction he had learned from his father David (Pr 4:3-4). This is the best reason for a long life (Is 38:19). Done right, it will work (Pr 22:6,15; 29:15,17).
Only fathers walking perfectly before God and regularly applying His wisdom have a right to say these words, for God sees whether you have a life and words worth heeding and following (Heb 4:12-14). Solomon addressed his son as “my son” twenty-two times in this book; once a mother addressed her son (Pr 31:2). He boldly claimed his son’s respect for his good doctrine, just as his father David had done (Pr 4:1-4; 5:1; Ps 34:11).
The heart holds your affections and motives. It is the place of thoughts and plans, and it is more important than only external compliance. Wise fathers want their children’s hearts. They are won by replacing evil influences with holy influences, promising ultimate happiness, proving sincere affection, admitting obvious faults, praying for them, living consistently, exalting their Creator, and having God’s answers for life’s dilemmas.
Fathers! The world wants your sons’ hearts. It offers riches, honor, pleasure, ease, and popularity. It incessantly cries for them in an age of electronic media. Enticing temptations confront them everywhere. Satan says, “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Luke 4:7). They hear it every day, repeatedly, loudly, enticingly.
Yet most sons have not heard their father’s strong appeal for their hearts. If they heard one at all, it was often weak and tainted by the foolish and unhappy life of their father. What many consider a good father did not appeal beyond good grades and athletics.
Fathers! Do your children know, understand, and believe you love them more than any one else ever will? Do they know that you teach them the way of life, to depart from the paths of death? You can and must convince them of this by consistent word and deed.
The eyes are synecdoche for the whole person, for it is by the eyes you see and follow a leader. Your sons live in your home. They see all you do; they see all you should do; they see all you do not do. Godly fathers must provide a holy and consistent illustration of the truth they give by way of instruction. A son will follow your example over your words.
Every man can be great, by the power of God and wisdom of Scripture. Every man should be great by following the example of Elihu (Job 32:1 – 37:24). Rather than addressing inferior sons, he boldly corrected and taught four superior elders. The only shortfall is your desire for this godly, crucial role for your life – protector of sons’ hearts.
Fathers! Do you know the wisdom of the context (Pr 23:15-35)? Have you warned your son plainly about envying this world and forgetting coming judgment (Pr 23:17-18)? Have you warned him plainly about gluttony and drunkenness (Pr 23:20-21,29-35)? Have you warned him plainly about the strange woman and her wiles (Pr 23:27-28)? Have you begged him to consider the wise instruction of mother and father (Pr 23:15-16,19,22-25)?
Godly men do not need Promise Keepers or Million Man Marches to be great fathers. They need Holy Spirit conviction and trembling humility before God’s Word. Their local church and pastor are sufficient to make them perfect (II Tim 3:16-17). They do not need an ecumenical cesspool of heresy to be great. They need to repent and do the simple duties that are clearly outlined and repeated in Scripture. They need to start today.
They do not need pretenders like Bill Gothard, James Dobson, and Jesse Jackson as role models. A God-fearing man can do the job of being a great father by the wisdom of Scripture. Neither Abraham nor Joshua needed stadiums filled with compromisers to get motivated for parental duties – they feared the Lord enough to do it with just His command and the promise of family prosperity (Pr 29:17; Gen 18:19; Josh 24:15).
Jesus Christ, the Everlasting Father (Is 9:6), asks for your pure hearts (Heb 10:22). He can see every thought and intent within them (Heb 4:12), and He teaches you to exhort one another of His brethren to make sure no hearts or lives are lost (Heb 3:12-13). If you will follow Him with all your might, He will bless your efforts to your own children.