Dr. Goh and his wife June, with their children Amanda, Theodore, and Graham in 1999
Scams. Fake news. Alternative truths.
These days the world can feel like a much more perilous and precarious place for us, our children, and our grandchildren.
With many voices clamouring for our attention, it can be challenging to tell what is true or false, right or wrong, good or bad. Today, it would seem that if we repeat it often enough, it becomes truth; if we do it often enough, it becomes right; and if everyone likes it enough, it must be good.
How can we make sense of this world? How can we reassure our children and grandchildren that even in the face of overwhelming uncertainty and wickedness, this is still our Father’s world, and that “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet”?
Give Us This Day 17
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Dwelling On and Doing
Raising our children to be faithful and loving, and to trust God’s goodness and grace—while teaching them to be watchful, cautious, and discerning of what they see and hear—might seem impossible.
Yet Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8–9 are instructive (emphasis mine):
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Now Paul is not instructing us to just “have good thoughts” or “be positive”, or to “look on the bright side”. He tells us that we can and should dwell on all that is good, right, and true because these are the attributes of God himself; and if we focus on and live out these divine attributes, God will be with us.
How can we dwell on and do these things Paul speaks of? Here are three ways we can consider:
1. Know, Speak, and Live Out the Truth
As heads of our family, we play a vital role in embodying God’s truth to our children. Let’s not make things up, dismiss their inquisitiveness, or pass the buck to others—whether to our wife, the Sunday school teachers, or worse, social media. In a world where children cannot be sure who they turn to, we must earn and keep their trust.
This means reading and teaching them Scripture from a young age, which can “make [them] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). It can also mean examining and verifying any information we find before we teach our little ones.
Dr. Goh and June with their twin grandsons, Cameron and Corey
Yes, we will never know everything there is to know, and yes, your little ones will come up with questions that will confound you. But we can tell them that we don’t know the answer yet, and will find out. Better still, we can discover the answers together.
Many times my children asked me things I had no idea about. What helped was taking time to find out and point them to reliable sources, ultimately to the Source of all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (James 1:5; Proverbs 9:10).
Living out the truth also means that we keep our word. Say you promised to bring your children to the beach, but something crops up and you postpone the outing. Something happens again, and you postpone it a second time—then a third and fourth. Eventually you manage to block off the weekend and have a marvellous time with your kids. You might think that you’ve kept your promise to them—when you actually broke it four times.
I’ve broken my word to my daughter many times in this way.
Fathers, just because we finally kept our word doesn’t mean we have been true to our promises. Each time we go back on our word, our children are likely to notice and remember.
Fathers, just because we finally kept our word doesn’t mean we have been true to our promises. Each time we go back on our word, our children are likely to notice and remember. No matter how trivial it may seem, let’s not promise something we cannot deliver. If we’ve broken our promises, let’s also apologise to our children and resolve to change.
May our kids find us trustworthy in every way, as our heavenly Father is.
2. Set the Right Example by Loving Your Wife
These days, everyone claims to be doing what is right. Right has become relative, with many divergent and alternative expressions of normality that all feel so right.
In particular, our families are assaulted by all sorts of noise, proffering all manner of alternatives that are “right”. What can you and I, as fathers and grandfathers, do? How can we lead and guide our families through this quagmire of chaos?
One thing we must do is so fundamental that we might not have even considered it. Rather than trying to scream above the cacophony of voices peddling different versions of the family and home, we should simply love our wife.
In his counsel to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22–33, Paul references two perfect marriages in the Bible: the first marriage between Adam and Eve (v. 31) and the ultimate marriage between Christ and the church (vv. 23–25). In between is his advice for spouses to love and submit to each other—so that their marriage can take its place between the first and the last, and show the world what God’s perfect design for us looks like.
We show the world by example that this God-ordained, Bible-mandated, heaven-blessed relationship is more fulfilling, meaningful, and enduring than any “alternative” the world can conjure.
In particular, Paul exhorts men in Ephesians 5:25–28:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Men, love your wife with all your heart, all the time. Don’t be afraid to tell—and show—your children and grandchildren just how much you love her. Express your love to her through words and deeds, and praise and affirm her in front of your little ones.
When we do this, we show the world by example that this God-ordained, Bible-mandated, heaven-blessed relationship is more fulfilling, meaningful, and enduring than any “alternative” the world can conjure.
Every morning, may your children (and grandchildren) rise and call your wife blessed, as they witness your love for her (Proverbs 31:28). As we build our marriage and home according to God’s righteous ways, may it become a haven for them that they too will want themselves as they follow God’s perfect plan.
3. Stand Up for Good
High-profile personalities nowadays—from influencers to national leaders—seem to model vice rather than virtue. Things that used to be illegal and illicit have been decriminalised and normalised all over the world. There seems to be no good in being good.
Yet, as fathers and grandfathers who believe in the one, true, righteous, and good God, we can show them what is good by our example. After all, we are to be salt and light for the Lord wherever we are, whatever we do—as husbands, fathers, workers, colleagues, servants, and disciples of Christ (Matthew 5:13–16).
One way we can demonstrate God’s goodness is through showing self-control and forbearance in our everyday life, particularly in high pressure situations. For example, those of us who drive our children to and from school, church, and other places, may often encounter unpleasant drivers.
In these moments, we can easily lose our temper and speak harshly about them and even to them—something which can become normal to our children. I’ve humbly realised this now that my son has started driving. Every now and again, I hear him making critical comments about other “less competent” drivers on the road. It’s not hard to guess who he learnt this habit from!
Yet James 1:19–20 says: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
One way we can demonstrate God’s goodness is through showing self-control and forbearance in our everyday life, particularly in high pressure situations.
Fathers, be good drivers—and more than that, good men, who model biblical kindness, graciousness, forgiveness, and forbearance (yes, even to those drivers).
This Is Our Father’s World
While I’m far from perfect and have made many mistakes, God has been gracious to me and my family. Over the years, He has sanctified and moulded me as a father and husband, to dwell on and do what is true, right, and good—from imparting God’s truth and keeping my word, to loving my wife sacrificially and living out what is good.
While we live in difficult times, the hymn “This Is My Father’s World” echoes the hope we have in Jesus:
This is my Father’s world
The battle is not done
Jesus who died shall be satisfied
And earth and heaven be one
This Fathers’ Day, let’s pray and ask God to help us be the fathers and grandfathers He wants us to be.