The doctrine or belief that God is our heavenly Father is first revealed to us in the Old Testament but isn’t fully developed until Jesus emphasizes it to His disciples in the New Testament gospels. In the Old Testament God is revealed to us as the creator of the entire universe as well as the people of God and the nation of Israel. It is important to note that Jesus’ relationship with the Father is unique and is separate from His disciple’s relationship. Jesus was with the Father at the creation, in fact Jesus is one with the Father in all eternity and like the Father has no beginning and no end. Jesus came into this world, as a man, to redeem and reconcile us to His Father and to become the sole Mediator between mankind and the God of the universe. Because of sin, men needed both reconciliation and rebirth (John 3:3, 8:42, 14:6). Once reborn, we become the adopted children of God, a right granted to us by the Father through His son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15, 23). Because of this right of adoption, we are able to come before the Father in prayer and petition with confidence, as long as we do so in Christ’s name.
In the opening verses of Malachi, the prophet records a very telling statement by God, “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you ask, “How have you loved us?” As fathers, this is a question we will be invariably be asked by our children, either directly or by implication. It is also a question that you will likely ask yourself, “Have I shown them the love that I feel inside of me, do they know that all I want for them is real happiness and satisfaction?” Malachi records how God raised, rewarded and disciplined His children, Israel. But I want to emphasize just two points of instruction, each are essential, if we want to be able to confidently answer the question, “How have you loved me?”
God the Father says in verse six of chapter three, “I the Lord do not change.” If there is one thing that children pick up on, very quickly and at a very early age, it is when we are inconsistent or worse, hypocritical. It is not only important that our love and discipline be fair, right, and just with our children, but it must be consistent and unchanging. Nothing is more important to anyone, at any age, than to know the rules and boundaries of life. Equally important is that those boundaries must be fixed and not subject to our mood, how busy we are, or any other matter of convenience or circumstance. By giving them fixed boundaries, along with our unfailing love when they go beyond them and rewarding their obedience when they stay within, we have provided them a pathway to both real happiness and satisfaction.
In verse seventeen of Malachi chapter three God refers to His children as “my most treasured possessions.” The verse also says that these “possessions” are a matter of choice by God, not just the result having been born a child of God. It is this idea that as God’s adopted children, we are special because we have been chosen by the Father to live in fellowship with Him and that He has prepared a place for us in advance to spend eternity with Him (John 14:2). Wake up each day asking yourself, “What can I do today to show my children they are not just loved, but treasured above my all my earthly possessions and pursuits?” And as you lay your head down on your pillow at night; make preparations in advance for the next day, so that you might not become distracted and lose the opportunity to show them your love. They will still ask, “How have you loved me?” The difference is that you will have an answer and at the same time be giving glory and honor to your heavenly Father.
Tool #269 Be consistent, even predictable, with your children and hold them as your most treasured possessions, and they will listen and learn from your instruction and example.