O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…
FATHER’S DAY MESSAGE
June 16, 2012Posted by on
By Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas
Lou Whitworth stated, "Were one of these two bents given full rein, the balance required for authentic Christian manhood would be lost. Strength and power, without tenderness, for example, give us the brute. Tenderness and compassion without masculine firmness and aggressiveness produce a male without the fire to lead or inspire others." With this statement the challenge for true biblical fatherhood commences.
People in public places occasionally comment on how "good" our children are and how blessed we must be as parents. Yes, we are blessed. However, our blessing is not found in the inherent "goodness" of our children. It is found in Christ, His Word, and in the high calling of Biblical parenting. It is in fulfilling the dominion mandate as articulated in Genesis 1:28, Malachi 2:15, and the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20. It is discovered in seeking to conform our lives, marriage, and family in accordance to God’s will.
Our children are not perfect, but prized. They are prized because God has said they are His (Ezekiel 16:21) and they are His reward (Psalm 127:3) granted to faithful parents. Yet, we did not receive "good" children at birth. We received sweet, adorable sinners with the same feet of clay that we as parents possess. Every day we must contend with their bent towards foolish, sinful behavior, our limited energy, and our own short comings. But deal with it, we must, if we are to train up children to glorify God and fulfill their God-ordained destiny, which benefits them and others (Proverbs 22:6).
Character training is the most important and most difficult aspect of parenting. In fact, it is the primary purpose of education. Noah Webster, considered the Father of American Education, defined the term education in these terms, "The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline, which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations." In other words, parents need to inculcate in their children the necessary biblical attributes to forge a godly character that prepares them for their future.
Any good fruit in children’s lives is the result of the Holy Spirit’s sanctification and the parents, especially the father’s, faithfulness to the Word of God. Dads must not only be able to teach the precepts of God’s Word, but model its message faithfully before their families, friends, and foes. To mistakenly believe children are naturally well behaved is to ignore the power of the Word in the lives of even the youngest of sinners and to disregard the lofty position of a father in God’s Kingdom.
This lofty position in God’s Kingdom carries with it a great weight of responsibility. According to Moses, who received the Ten Words, "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:5, 6). It is not the sins of the mother, the church, the state, or the culture that places our children’s future in jeopardy; it is the sins of the patriarchs.
In light of these truths, what fathers say or do not say, what they do or do not do, carries a profound impact upon their children’s souls, lives and future. We fail to recognize this important human relationship to our nation’s peril. For as goes the father, so goes the family and as goes the family, so goes the church, and as goes the church, so goes the nation.
It is the father who will stand before God to give an account for his family. It is the father who must protect his family from the fallen world, the deceitfulness of sin, and the enemies of God while advancing His Kingdom through a multi-generational vision. It is the father that must stand as guardian at the gate of his home to determine what comes in and what is kept out of his family.
Does evil flourish under his watch that devours his children? Does he neglect the spiritual training and moral welfare of his children? Does he train them in the goodness, holiness, and righteousness of God? If not, why not? All the money, perks, and materialism in this poor-fallen world cannot make up for the failure of not being the loving, yet firm watchmen upon the wall of one’s home. Obviously, this holy endeavor is not for the weak or faint of heart. This is why true Biblical fatherhood is a rare and precious thing. To overlook or ignore it is to devalue it.
William Wordsworth once wrote, "The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly." How does the flower become lowly? It is the Father’s hand from heaven that presses down upon our petals. In the same way, a father must form his children’s character by pressing down on their tendency to grow into something corruptible, something other than a poet, chivalrous warrior, statesman in boys and a meek and quiet spirit in girls that is highly prized by God in heaven.
When the discipline and nurturing of children is done correctly, there is little trace of the father’s hand. Yet, it is the father, who is to work the soil of his children’s heart. Solomon speaking as a kingly father preparing to pass the righteous scepter of a godly reign to his children stated, "My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways" (Proverbs 23:6). The heart of each child finds its safest rest in the ways of a godly father.
The ways of the father plow the hardened ground and carefully sows the Word of God. The father pours out the living water, drenching the roots of his children with the Holy Spirit. It is the father, who must tirelessly weed out the evil that surround his children’s frail stalks. It is the father, who constructs a trellis of truth, to which his children can secure themselves and go further up and in to God’s Kingdom.
Finally, it is the father, who carefully builds a hedge around his children, providing the safety of an enclosed garden in which to grow. It is a consecration unto impact and not isolation a father seeks to instill in his budding plants. A spiritual covering arches over their development. It allows the Son to shine, a gentle rain to fall, and when the storm hits, the wise father provides the solid rock of faith that applies God’s word to secure their lives.
Some might accuse such a father of "keeping his children from the socialization of the world," as though his children were wild plants, not exquisite ones requiring constant love and pruning. Yet he is not keeping his children from the world; he is dressing and keeping them to change the world. As they grow and mature in the security of their father’s love, they will bring the fragrance of Christ to all who meet them. To those who are perishing in their sins, it will be a fragance of death. To those who are saved, it will be the wonderful aroma of life (2 Corinthians 2:16).
Remember, those who will finally pluck these children from their father’s garden, their godly characters are no accident of nature. They are a father’s labor of love offered to the Lord. He endured their worse to give you their best. They grew to be a gift to the Maker of the "shy and lowly" flower. They may not have become the fragrance of Christ without God using a father’s cultivation, which combined tenderness and discipline in their training.
Happy Father’s Day to every man who has attempted to be such a father in an age that dishonors true, biblical fatherhood in Jesus’ holy and precious name!