|Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018||
Gary C. Hampton
A father is a man created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). God intended for him to be a man married to one woman for life. “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6, 9).
A father is responsible for discipline (Hebrews 12:7-9; Colossians 3:21). Teaching his children is a crucial part of God’s design (Ephesians 6:4). He must also realize he is a trainer, which involves showing his children how it is to be done (Proverbs 22:6; 1 Corinthians 11:1). An important part of that training should be shown in loving his wife, the mother of his children (Colossians 3:19). God has given him the duty of providing for the needs of his family, but not their wants (1 Timothy 5:8).
Love is one of several things a father should be given (Titus 2:4). It is also important to pay attention to his instructions (Proverbs 1:8; 4:1; Colossians 3:20). Fathers also deserve honor, as God instructed through Moses in Exodus 20:12 (Ephesians 6:2-3).
Father is often described as the breadwinner or provider in the family, but he may also need to be provided for in his golden years. “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.” Paul, just a few verses later, added, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:4, 8). Thank God for righteous fathers!
The Need for Godly Fathers
The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored. The first modern Father’s Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton is believed to have suggested the service to her preacher, after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah, West Virginia the prior December. This explosion killed 361 men, many of them fathers. It was not only a remembrance of those who had died, but a reminder of the virtue of fatherhood itself. Of course, like many other holidays, retailers have found it a great opportunity to encourage people to spend money.
While there is nothing wrong with honoring fathers through gifts, cards, meals and other expressions of appreciation, it all begins with men being true fathers. Being a father is more than just having children, although sadly this is about the most some men know about being a father. Our society has done little to foster positive images of most men as fathers. Society, however, is currently paying a high price for such low esteem.
Being a father is one of the noblest callings any man can have. From a biblical perspective, it comes with great responsibilities and great blessings. To the father comes the charge of headship in the home and of bringing up children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Godly fathers will look to the Heavenly Father for guidance and direction in equipping their children in every aspect of their lives, but certainly so spiritually. It is something that must be taken seriously from the very beginning, as those early years of influence are crucial for instilling God in a heart. Only by having a love and a respect for God and His will instilled in our children can we find a balanced view of life cultivated in them. When fathers are AWOL, only nominally interested in the upbringing of their children or emphasize the importance of the physical over the spiritual, too great a burden is placed on mom, grandparents or others to compensate. The results are sad to consider.
We see in the world around us the consequences of fathers who don’t genuinely assume their roles. I remember one man remarking to me years ago that kids so focused only on material pursuits had to learn that from somewhere, someone. Will living just for today be our legacy for tomorrow? A godly father will not only equip his children to succeed in life today, but to live for life eternal. Personally, my heart’s desire for my children is that I have done the best I can for them to realize how important obeying the Gospel and living the Christian life is. No matter how much fortune we may train our young people to amass in this life, we have failed them miserably if we haven’t communicated to them and instilled in them the desire to have treasure in Heaven. It takes a father giving his best effort for this to happen; it just won’t happen by itself. How will it feel, if a father has not prepared his children spiritually, to hear in God’s Judgment the pronouncement of eternal damnation, not only against himself, but against his family? “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24), but it takes a righteous father for such to happen.
Father’s Day is a day of remembering those godly men who dedicated themselves to family and to being the husband and father that God wanted them to be. It’s also a time for renewal in those same principles for fathers today. Solomon said, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3), and that a father is blessed by having them (127:5). May God be a father’s role model, and may every father point his children to God. I will always be proud of my children and grandchildren, no matter what. My prayer is that, in my role as father and grandfather, I will have honored God in their lives. The greatest thing any dad can say of his kids is, “My family is united together in Christ.” The greatest thing a dad can hear is, “He showed me Christ.”