Many years ago I heard my friend, Randy Stinson, give a talk about parenting, and he said, “I tell my children, if I am not afraid, you should not be afraid. If you see me afraid, run as fast as you can.” After the talk I incorporated the idea into my own parenting. I cannot count the number of times I’ve told my children, “If I’m not scared there’s no reason for you to be scared. Trust me. I love you, and I will take care of you.” I have found the pithy advice immensely helpful over the years.
Psalm 112 asserts that one characteristic of a godly man is,
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
The Psalm roots that admonition in “the fear of the Lord” (Ps 112:1). Both Psalm 111 and 112 are wisdom-Psalms and are alphabetic acrostics in which the lines begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. They would have been used for teaching and memorizing and are to be understood together. Psalm 111 is in praise of God for his mighty acts and redemption and Psalm 112 is in praise of a man who by faith leads a God-centered life. The final verse of Psalm 111 marks the transition from the praise of God to the praise of godliness in this way,
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
And then Psalm 112 begins,
Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
A husband and father is to be the chief practitioner of “fearing of the Lord” in his home, which fundamentally means, “He is not afraid of bad news” (Psalm 112:7). Why? Because he lives his life based on the good news of the mighty acts of the Lord of redemption (Psalm 111). Because he fears the Lord, his life is wrapped in the redemption story of the sovereign God whose kingdom was at hand in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection marked the inbreaking of the kingdom, a kingdom that will be consummated in a new heavens and new earth. That is the good news that dominates his life.
This is the gospel leadership every Christian home needs. A Christian father’s life is rooted in the sovereign God of the cosmos who is not afraid, so there is no reason he should be afraid. The bad news he sees on the television does not trump the good news of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom so “He is not afraid of bad news” (Psalm 112:7). The Christian father who is always complaining and acting like the present is a terrible time to be alive and that we are on the losing side of history is contaminating the gospel atmosphere that should pervade his home. He is to be the one reminding his wife and children that we are those “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11). Therefore, a man who fears the Lord will teach his family it is the greatest time to be alive in the history of the world.
Too many men are damaging the gospel vitality of their homes by living as though the bad news around us is the most important reality. If a man is constantly grousing and depressed about politics, the economy, and the secularization of culture as his primary theme he is preaching an anti-gospel. Many men even spiritualize their bleakness as a commitment to the truth (I will not even get into the cottage industry of spiritual vultures shamelessly exploiting evangelical outrage in Jesus name for financial gain). Men need to stop thinking of their spiritual lives in individualized, psychologized, therapeutic terms and start envisioning themselves as soldiers on an invincible mission of good news—which cannot be stopped. We need fathers who, because of the good news of Jesus Christ, are not afraid of bad news. Men who will say to their wife and children, God is not afraid, therefore I am not afraid, and there is no reason for you to be afraid.