Week of Monday, November 16 – Saturday, November 21
Be Tender and Tough - Man as Defender

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.  Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels.” - Hosea 11:1-6 ESV

Men, our role as the Defender most often plays out in our own homes. There are times when the head of the house and the father of the family must step in and take defensive action in a preventative way before they experience some negative, perhaps even deadly, outcomes. It often takes a father’s firm but loving hand to turn the situation around. Sometimes our kids need a nice pat on the back, other times they need a “Boot in their Butt.”

Our text is from Hosea, who was a father who had two sons and a daughter. Abandoned by his wife, Gomer, Hosea knew the challenges and difficulties of being a single parent. At the beginning of the book, God used Hosea’s experience as the forgiving husband of an unfaithful wife to describe the LORD’s steadfast love for Israel. Here in chapter 11, God uses the imagery of fatherhood. Just as Hosea had taught his kids to walk, picked them up when they fell, and bandaged their cuts and bruises, God had done the same with Israel (11:3). God had tenderly guided them, not with chains but with kindness and “bands of love” (11:4).

Sadly, just as Hosea’s kids misbehaved and he responded with fatherly discipline, God had to do the same with wayward Israel. God laments: “The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (11:2). Long ago, God had delivered Israel from captivity in Egypt and tenderly cared for them in the wilderness. Now, because of their repeated sin, God’s tough discipline was coming: “They shall not return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king.” They were headed for captivity once again. Why? “Because they have refused to return to me” (11:5). Hosea says God is like a Father who is both tender and tough.

In Man to Man, I related how I felt compelled to issue an ultimatum to my son about his marijuana use—either stop it or leave. He blew it and I did exactly what I told him I would do. I drove him to the mall to drop him off and told him: “I love you. So, if you decide you love your family more than drugs, let me know and we’ll work something out.” And I drove away weeping, but I loved that young man enough to draw a hard line. I told myself, “If I don’t take a stand and send a clear message right now, he’s on the path to self-destruction.” Long story short, our boy came back, and we were so happy to see him. But the episode was an important lesson to us all.  

Choices have consequences. And it is the father’s role as defender to step in and seek to prevent our kids from self-destruction. To do it effectively, sometimes you have to be tender but other times tough.  

  • As fathers, we are to defend our children against destructive behavior and against making bad choices in life. What are you seeing right now that needs to be addressed in the lives of your kids, grandkids, or even guys you are mentoring?
  • Have you found it difficult to maintain a proper balance between being tough and tender as a parent, especially when it comes to discipline? As you assess yourself, which is the more dominant attribute? What are some things you can do to become more balanced?
  • Sometimes our kids need to be rescued, but other times we need to allow them to feel the consequences of their choices. Pray for the wisdom to know the best response.