Good morning, I thought I would do something different today and share my Father’s Day sermon on this blog.
It is an honor and a blessing to share God’s Word with you one more time. I hope you had a good week and I hope you know how much God loves you! This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. It is a day in the year in which we take a time out to give special recognition to our fathers and to those who have been father figures in our lives. As we discussed last month when we celebrated Mother’s Day, it is good for us to honor our fathers and mothers. God tells us to do that very thing in the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God and the next six deal with our relationships with others. And the very first relationship with others that is mentioned is the one we have with our father and mother. And today we are going to honor our fathers. We will look at several verses about fatherhood this morning, but I want to start off by sharing one with you that has been on my mind the most in the last couple of weeks. It is found in Proverbs 20:7.
Proverbs 20:7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; how blessed are his children after him. <PRAY>
I love this verse from Proverbs. I love the wisdom it shares with us who are fathers. I love the responsibility it places on our shoulders. I love that it speaks to us about walking in integrity and living in such a way that we bless our children. As the Bible says in Psalm 127 children are a blessing and as fathers our hearts ought to be inclined and our lives geared to being a blessing to them. I want to explore that concept and that thought this morning in a message entitled “How Fathers Can Bless Their Children.” And the first step I want to talk about is that fathers are to love their children.
- Love Your Children
If I were to just say, “Dads should love their children” I believe that almost everybody would agree with that statement. But just saying that statement alone is not enough. I think it is important for us as fathers to consider, what does that mean? What does loving your children look like? And when I ask that question, what I really want to know is what does God say it looks like? And when I want to know what God says about something, I look at the precepts and the principles found in His word. I think a good starting place is to look at Psalm 103:13 and explore what it says that fatherhood should look like. In Psalm 103, David writes:
Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
David uses the example of the compassion of an earthly father to help us understand and appreciate the compassion shown by our Heavenly Father. From this psalm we see that a father is to show compassion to his children. That is the norm, that is the expectation, that is the way things ought to be. A father ought to have compassion on his children. The Hebrew word that David uses for compassion in is “racham.” It is a word that means to love deeply, to show mercy and to treat someone with tender affection. So how do you love your children? You treat them in such a way that they experience compassion, love, mercy and tender affection in their interactions with you. That is how children should experience their fathers. I think it is good for fathers to consider does that describe the experience your children have with you? Do they feel loved? Do they feel valued and appreciated? Would your children say that they have received tender affection from you? The experience children have with their earthly father is important.
It is important because the way a father treats his children can greatly impact the manner in which his children view God. Many children have developed the perspective that God is demanding and demeaning. They have developed the idea that God is far off and only has words for them, only has time for them when He is punishing them. And many of them get that picture of God based on their interactions with their earthly father. They see God as demanding, demeaning and disinterested. That’s not an accurate picture of our heavenly father and it should not be an accurate picture of earthly fathers. One way we demonstrate love for our children is by showing affection, attention and compassion to our children.
The scriptures also remind us that we are to provide for our children. We are to make sure their needs are met. Our kids don’t just need time and attention; they need food, clothing and shelter. And even in situations where the father is no longer present in the home, the father is still called to provide for the care and the needs of his children. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8
1 Tim 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Calling somebody worse than an infidel? Those are strong words. For some those would be fighting words. But it is true, a father is supposed to provide for his children. That is one way we bless them. That is one way we demonstrate our love for them. Another way we demonstrate love for our children is by providing discipline and correction. The Bible says in Proverbs 3:11 – 12,
Prov 3:11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
We are to teach our children right from wrong. We are to teach them that there are consequences for our actions. Just as the Lord corrects us out of love, we are to correct our children in a spirit of love. That can be tricky. Paul said in Ephesians 6:4
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
We are to discipline our children. It is the loving thing to do. But when we discipline them, we are to do it in a loving way. We are not to discipline them in a fit of anger. We are not to do it in the heat of the moment. We are not to do it in a way that dishonors God. Our goal should be growth and restoration. We are to correct and discipline our children in such a way that we still show compassion and God’s grace. I love the picture of the grace of the father that Jesus gives us in the parable of the prodigal son. The prodigal son treated his father badly, he separated himself from his father and lived in a way in which his father did not approve. The prodigal son demanded his inheritance, went off to a foreign land and burned through all his money. Let me rephrase that. He burned through his father’s money. The prodigal son ended up slopping hogs and decided to go back to his father’s house in shame. Let’s look at the way Jesus described his homecoming in Luke 15:20
Luke 15:20: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The father saw the boy coming home from a long way off. The father was looking for him, longing for his child to come home and when the father sees him, he runs out to meet him. He embraced the boy, even though the boy had done wrong, even though the boy had messed up. The father was filled with compassion for his son! He saw his son while the boy was still a long way off! He was looking for his son, longing to have their relationship restored. What a lovely illustration of the way our Heavenly Father looks for us and longs to have our relationship restored with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. And this is a great picture for us as fathers. We should treasure our relationship with our children. Even if they do wrong, and wander off. Even it they treat us poorly and despise our teaching we are to pray for and seek out reconciliation with them. We are to love our children! The second lesson I see is that a father should love their children’s mother.
- Love Your Children’s Mother
If you really want to bless your children, you need to love the children’s mother. Two of the best instructional verses we find in the Bible on how to do that are found in Ephesians chapter five in verses 25 and 28. In that chapter Paul talks about the roles and responsibilities Christians have in this world and in our families. And when it comes to responsibilities, Paul lays a heavy one on husbands. Paul writes to the church:
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself…
I really like the reminder in verse 28. Paul says “husbands you do yourself some good by being good to your wife.” And when you look at verse 25, you see that husbands are to be servant leaders in the family. A husband is to sacrifice for his wife, tend to her, care for her and care about her with the same sacrificial and loving spirit with which Christ loves the Church! That’s the way a husband is commanded to treat his wife. That’s they way a father should love the mother of his children. You may say, “Wait a minute preacher. I’m not married to the mother of my children.” I understand. For whatever reason, that is the case sometimes. But I believe the precept of this verse is still vitally important for us to embrace and abide by as fathers. Maybe you are no longer married to the mother of your children. Maybe you never were. Whatever the situation was, you can’t change the past. But you can impact the present situation and the future for your child. And if you want to bless your children, you should still treat your children’s mother with dignity and respect even if you don’t live in the same household.
Someone may shake their head and say, “You don’t know the situation.” You’re right. I don’t know the situation. But I know if I jump back a chapter to Ephesians 4:32 that I will see the exhortation to Christians to “be kind, tender-hearted toward one another, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Whatever the situation. Do your best to forgive. Do your best to be kind. Do your best to move forward and treat your children’s mother with Christian compassion, dignity and respect. Don’t talk down to her and don’t talk down about her. Don’t complain to the kids about her. Kids have enough stress in this world without having to worry about how mom and dad are getting along. One way you can bless your children is by loving the children’s mother. The third lesson I see is that we are to love other people.
- Love other people.
If you want to bless your children, let them see you loving others and treating othes with dignity and respect. Treat everyone that way, not just people in your immediate family. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus was asked by a scribe what is the greatest commandment. Jesus responded,
Mat 22:37 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
Loving others, loving our neighbor as ourselves sets a great example for our children and it blesses them when we consistently model this behavior for them. By loving others, we can teach our kids that all people have been created in the image of God. We can teach them there is inherent worth and value in every person. We can teach them that we don’t discriminate or treat someone unfairly, poorly or badly because of their race, color or creed. We can teach them that we don’t treat someone unfairly, poorly or badly simply because they have a different belief system than us. We treat everyone as a unique individual created in the image of God.
We may not agree with everyone, but we can respectfully disagree without being disagreeable. By loving others, we can teach our children how to love others. We can teach them how to engage in discussion. We can teach them how to properly handle conflicts. Our children can learn so much from us when they see us loving others. Let me give you one more step, one more lesson for today before we go. I think it is the most important one. Fathers if you want to bless your children, then love the Lord.
- Love the Lord
Proverbs 20:7 The righteous man walks in his integrity; how blessed are his children after him.
Deuteronomy 1:31 “There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
I think the most important thing a father can do to bless his children is to love the Lord and have a right relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. If you want to be a righteous man you need to be right with God. If you want to walk in integrity, you need to walk with the Lord. If you want to love your children in the best way, you need to love the Lord. If you want to love your children’s mother in the best way and love others in the best way, you need to love the Lord.
I started off saying that I love the responsibility that Proverbs 20:7 places on our shoulders. Doing a good job, a godly job in each of these areas can be tough sometimes. And I have to tell you that it doesn’t matter how broad your shoulders are, you can’t carry fully carry that responsibility well unless you let the Lord carry you. And you can trust that He will carry you. If you let Him. Fathers, my prayer for you is that you will love the Lord and let Him carry you so that you can be the best father you can be. My prayer for you is that you would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and model that lifesaving relationship to your children. If you would like to know more about how to do that, or what that may look like, I would be glad to speak with you and address your questions or concerns.
May God bless you,
Pastor Phillip Stephens