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What’s A Father For?

(Given on Father’s Day)

Today is a day our culture sets aside to honor fathers. All across this nation families will gather and do something special with or for Dad. This is right and good for Scriptures tells us that we ought to honor our parents.

Since this is a day to honor fathers perhaps it would be good to take a few moments and ask ourselves what the role of a father is. What are fathers supposed be? How are they supposed to interact with their children?

The Apostle Paul gives us some insight into a father’s role in one of his letters to the Christians at Thessalonica. He says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV)

The first role of fathers which Paul mentions is that of encouraging. There are times when a child’s self-confidence needs bolstering. There are times when a child feels timid and needs help facing his own fears. There are times when things look hopeless. A father is there to help his child overcome his doubts, his fears and disappointments.

Another role Paul mentions is giving comfort. The world can be cruel. There are times when we all suffer hurt. There are times of loss. A father is there to dry our tears, to give us the hug we need when we’re lonely.

A third role of a father is to urge his child to be godly. From time to time we all need someone in our lives who won’t settle for second best; to push us on to live up to our potential; to cheer us on when we’ve stumbled; to help us see what the Lord’s will is for us.

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “I never had a father like that who encouraged, comforted and spurred me on. Instead, he discouraged me and caused me pain. He surely didn’t urge me to live a godly life!” In fact, some of you may have grown up without a father figure in your life at all.

The good news is that whether we had a good or a bad father, or whether our father was totally absent, God wishes to become a father to us. For example, Psalm 68, verses 4 through 5 says, “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the LORD – and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (NIV)

We won’t take the time to look them up, but the Scriptures confirm over and over that God encourages, He comforts and He urges us to live holy and righteous lives. He truly does act as a father to us.

There is also another role of fathers which Paul did not mention in the passage we read. And this attribute of fathers is the greatest and most important of all. A father loves his children. The Apostle John writes, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” (1 John 3:1 NIV)

It’s trite to say that a father loves his children. The word ‘love’ is thrown about so often that it loses it’s meaning. What is love? What does love look like in action? How does a father show his children that he loves them?

The kind of love the Bible talks about is a love which gives. A father who loves his children does whatever is best for them regardless of the cost to himself. And this is exactly what God does for us. He shows His love by doing what is in our best interests. He loved us so much that He gave what was most precious to Him. At little further in the same letter John writes, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV)

Paul wrote that one of the roles of a father is to urge his children to live godly lives. God did His utmost to make it possible for us to become godly. Our heavenly Father loved us so much that He gave us Jesus.

Every week we gather to remember the love our heavenly Father has for us. To put it another way, every Sunday is Father’s Day when we remember the atoning sacrifice He made for our sins.

The bread we eat reminds us of Jesus’ body, sacrificed for us. The juice we drink reminds us of Jesus’ blood which cleanses us from sin.

As we eat and drink let’s honor our heavenly Father for loving us so much. Those of us who are fathers, let’s determine to be more like our heavenly Father.

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