Fathering Like the Father | Week 3

Week 3 | An Officer or a Gentleman?

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This week 7 Pax met at Adventure Park and 1 HIM called in remotely to continue our latest book study: Fathering Like the Father. All Pax are invited and encouraged to attend. We have only read the first couple of chapters. These are both included in the backblasts so you can catch up easily. The reading assignment was Chapter 2 – An Officer or a Gentleman?


Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. — Luke 6:36

Mercy relents from deserved punishment or consequences. Grace offers undeserved favor or benefit.

A Gracious Father

  • Nehemiah 9:16–17 (NIV): “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.
  • Countless times they rebelled against God’s law, yet He never allowed his righteous anger to submerge his mercy or bury his grace.
  • As human fathers, our tempers can sometimes drown out the voices of mercy and grace.

An Angry Father

  • Saul struggled with jealousy and insecurity, especially when David came along.
  • Jealous anger turned to death threats, and David confided in his friend Jonathan, the king’s own son.
  • Saul allowed his stubborn heart to cloud his fatherly grace.
  • Saul displays a common male problem—his will became the standard for his actions.
  • God does not act like a military commander; he treats us like a gracious Father. God doesn’t set a legalistic standard; he sets a holy standard.
  • Legalism seeks to crush people with the standard. Holiness seeks to call people to the standard.

A Merciful Father

  • So, Dad, does legalism mark your fathering?
    • Do you focus more on rules than righteousness?
    • Are you more likely to threaten murder than to offer mercy?
    • Do you always opt for grounding rather than grace?
  • God is not soft on sin, but, for his children, God desires holiness not legal perfection.
  • When mercy and grace become spiritual labels for letting a child get away with sin, that creates license.
  • Grace and mercy must exist in balance with justice and discipline.

John 8:4-10 (NIV):

3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”


  • Mercy—Jesus did not throw the stone she deserved.
  • Grace—Jesus offered her the chance to change her ways.

Making It Work

  • Acknowledge and celebrate God’s mercy and grace at work in your own life. Talk about it with your family and testify to it when you are with others.
  • When you deal with sin and disobedience in your children, don’t just react. Think through the extremes of legalism and license. Consider the response that would be too harsh and the one that would be too permissive. Then choose the solid middle ground of mercy and grace.
  • Pray daily that God will help you develop holiness in your children as you recognize their weaknesses, deal with their sin, and move them toward spiritual growth.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Talk about some examples of God’s mercy and grace in his relationship with the children of Israel.
  2. What factors/issues in Saul’s life squelched his ability to show mercy and grace?
  3. When does legalism most often rear its ugly head in our fathering?
  4. When does license most often become the easy way out for fathers?
  5. Talk about a John 8 type of situation in which your child was caught in some sin. How did you deal with it? How could you have struck a better balance between legalism and license in that situation?

Father/Child Dialogue

  1. Dad, explain to your children the difference between mercy and grace. Use an example or two from your own family life.
  2. Kids, talk to your dad about rules and punishment in your family. Do you feel the rules are too strict or the punishment too harsh? Explain why or why not.

Homework for 7/6

Thoughts for the week:

  • Think about the worst possible thing one of your children could do to grieve and anger you. Now talk about how you could respond in forgiveness if that unthinkable event ever actually occurred.
  • Name some ways reconciliation has taken place in your family or church?
  • Describe some situations in the Bible where God loved his children out of their sin and back into righteousness?
  • Why do you think David neglected to confront the sin of his children? In what ways does unconditional love require sacrifice?
  • Why does a child need eye contact, physical touch, and focused attention when receiving discipline?

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