1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NKJV)
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
For the last several weeks we have insisted that one of the lessons which the men in the congregation have been given to teach the Church is stability. As the fathers of Israel, they are to be a source of consistency from one generation to the next, not blown about emotionally or doctrinally but holding fast to the traditions just as they have been taught in the Word of God.
Today Paul identifies another dimension of fatherhood – he was the father of the Corinthian congregation, the one who had started this congregation in Gentile territory. Consequently, he had a unique relationship with them. Because he was their father, not merely their teacher, he takes responsibility for them in a particular way. Consequently, we have two letters – both of considerable length – which Paul sent to this congregation, endeavoring to help them to grow in Christ.
So what principle of manhood is revealed here? What do fathers do? Quite simply, they take responsibility for those under their charge. While boys make excuses, men take responsibility. And this is precisely what Paul does for the Corinthians. He writes these extensive letters to them to warn them, to instruct them, to correct them because he bore responsibility for them.
So, men, how are we doing taking responsibility for those under our charge? Have we taken responsibility for the problems in our marriage? While not all the sins in the marriage may be ours, the responsibility for the state of the marriage is – and so we need to take responsibility and, like Paul, move our marriage toward greater Christ likeness. Have we taken responsibility for the problems in our children? While their sins are not our own, their growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ is our responsibility – we are to be shepherding them, directing them, correcting them, warning them, counseling them – the very thing that Paul is doing in our text, “as my beloved children, I warn you.”
And what of you others? Have you considered the weight that is upon the shoulders of your husband or your parents? And have you made that weight a joy or a burden? Wives, are you a crown of glory or a ball and chain?
• Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman. (Pr 21:19)
• Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. (Pr 31:10-11)
Children, are you a joy and delight, or are you a heartbreak and sorrow?
• He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy. (Pr 17:21)
• The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. (Pr 23:24)
Reminded of the call that is upon us as men to take responsibility and as wives and children to make that responsibility a delight, let us kneel and confess that we have failed in our callings.