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“A Dad’s Legacy”
When it comes to holidays, Father’s Day isn’t up there very high, in fact, it might be at the bottom of the ladder, especially when compared to Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is huge deal and is highly advertised. Hallmark and flower shops make a fortune on Mothers Day, but not fathers on their special day. The only one who may benefit on Father’s Day would be Craftsman Tools, and the fathers buy them for themselves.
A small boy said, “Father’s Day is just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much.”
The good thing about Father’s Day is that we get to choose where we want to eat, but the bad part is that we have to pay the bill when it’s over.
And heaven help the father who forgets Mother’s Day. If they do they’ll find themselves in the doghouse until Father’s Day, or more like Independence Day, which never comes soon enough as far as fathers who forget Mother’s Day are concerned.
Even in churches, Father’s Day isn’t half as big as Mother’s Day, and sermons are usually geared towards what father’s are doing wrong; rather than what they are doing right and God’s calling upon their lives.
Society today, with Satan at its helm, is making fathers the brunt of their jokes, which if said or made toward women or a people of color would be considered abusive and racist. And the reason is to make fathers disposable, and if Satan can do this, then he has successfully nullified God’s plan for the family, and even God the Father’s role in the life of His creation.
Today it has gotten so bad that our society sees fathers as expendable and nothing more than sperm donors, fools, or worse, dead beats, which are the unfortunate stigmas that have attached themselves to fathers in general. What this has done is hurt the father’s ability to be God’s spiritual leaders of the home and, for that matter, of our society.
Basically, dad’s or fatherhood gets no respect.
Therefore, the role of father needs to be reinstated in our society and culture to the level of importance God intended. I think it might be safe to say that the reason America is in such a moral decline and one in which its integrity is so low, even to the point of absolute hypocrisy, is because of the declining value the role of a father, and for that matter a husband has within our culture.
Why? Because when husbands and dads are undervalued and unappreciated, so then is God the Father undervalued and unappreciated, which may be why we are seeing so many false religions and gods promoted in our society.
And so let’s take time and build this the right way.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1 NKJV)
What then is the role of a husband and father?
Head of Household
In Paul’s letters to the Colossian and Ephesian churches, he introduces the hierarchy within the family.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18-20 NKJV)
Now, let’s get to what is on everyone’s mind when this verse is quoted. It’s this whole idea of wives submitting to their husbands. It doesn’t sit to well in our society, or even in today’s church, but please understand this is God’s way to blessing, not to harm or to degrade.
For husbands, what we need to understand when it comes to this verse is that there is a whole lot more submitting on our part, because we are told to love our wives unconditionally, which is what this word means in the Greek language. It doesn’t mean to lord it over our wives, or make them into servants. Remember God gave Eve to be a helpmeet, not a doormat.
In fact, in the letter to the Ephesian church, we see this understanding of unconditional love because we’re told to love our wives in the same way that Jesus unconditionally loved us by giving up His life for us.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV)
If we want our wives to respect us, we need to earn it by loving her as Christ loves His Church. Some guys may be thinking, “But my wife nags me constantly.” But truthfully, couldn’t Jesus say the same thing about us. But does He stop loving us? No! Jesus continues to listen to us and to love us. Let’s try to then listen to our wives instead of complaining, and when we do, then the respect grows.
But for the wives, I know this whole idea of submitting grates, but I like to go to what Paul said in his letter to the church in Ephesus.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22 NIV)
Basically Paul is saying that you are to submit to your husbands in the same way and manner that you submit yourself to the Lord God.
Now I’m not God and I don’t know how this whole blessing thing works, but it does, and I have known many who have taken God at His word and have seen the blessings in their lives and in the lives of the family.
But guys, know this, that what I have heard said is that wives find it a whole lot easier to submit when their husbands not only love them unconditionally, but also take time to listen, and even more importantly when they look to their heavenly Father for guidance.
And let’s not forget the role of father.
Going on in his letter to the Colossian church, Paul said,
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossian 3:21 NKJV)
Paul tells us not to exasperate or provoke our children, which will lead to all sorts of problems later on. Instead we are told to turn our hearts towards them in love.
Notice that one of the responsibilities the Lord gives to John the Baptist was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” It comes from the prophet Malachi, and is reiterated by Luke in His gospel.
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6 NKJV)
I kind of think that a main reason this world, this nation, and the church are in the condition they are in is because men have not taken this to heart.
Fathers who have never put their arm around their child telling them that they love them, who never show their emotions, who do not take their children to church or lead their family in devotions and/or prayer, and who have either walked away or abdicated their responsibilities, having time for everything else but their children, has exasperated the problem.
Guys, by this time hopefully you’ve gotten the drift of the husband’s and father’s responsibility, and that is to love your wife and children just as Jesus loves us.
So let’s get to it.
In terms of authority, the father is then the head of his household, and the Bible talks about the need of the father to manage the household well. He is charged with the responsibility of looking after the best interests of his family: financially, socially, and spiritually.
When a man becomes a husband and a father, there is no owner’s manual they can turn to in order to find out how they are to operate effectively. Instead it is something that is picked up and learned over time.
First, it is how his own father treated him. It’s how he grew up as a child and interacted with his dad. This is how he becomes a husband and fathers his children.
Mark Twain tells of his experience with his dad. He talked about when he was 14 years old how ignorant his dad was, but when he turned 21, he saw just how much his father had learned in 7 years.
I remember one day when my daughter Danielle was talking about boy problems. When I started to chime in she said, “Dad, you don’t know. You’re too old.”
None of us guys came with a clue on how to be a good husband or father. It came through time spent on the job, and it is something we’ll be learning the rest of our lives, because there’s going to come a time when we’re going to be grandfathers. And if I could, I don’t believe in step dads, rather I like to think men as dads who step up.
The only problem with learning how to be a good husband and father from our dads is that our dads were flawed, and while they may have set a good example, it wasn’t always the best.
My dad was a great provider, but emotionally he as extremely distant. Maybe that’s the way his father was with him. My father was also a disciplinarian, and boy did I get disciplined. They didn’t name me Dennis for nothing. And while he took us as children to church, this didn’t last long, and my father, while a deacon showed little if any spiritual inclination when it came to the family.
And so while we learn both the good and the bad from our fathers, how else are we to learn the role of father and husband? We learn from our relationship with our heavenly Father, and from His word.
The unfortunate part is that most of us use our own relationship with our fathers as a guide to what our heavenly Father is like. If our father was distant then we probably think that God is the same way.
Some of us have a real fear of our fathers. We fear punishment and rejection. Like when our mothers said, “Wait till your father gets home.” And so we think of God in much the same way, just waiting to punish us when we blow it.
This leads to our never believing that we’ll ever be good enough, because it was always that way with our fathers, trying to win their approval, but never quite measuring up. Therefore our fathers were always disappointed in us, and we think the same way about God.
Let me just say that it is unfair to our heavenly Father to use our earthly fathers as a standard. But to find out about our heavenly Father, and what we are to be like based upon His example, the Bible is our best and greatest source of information and insight.
So what does the Bible provide as a way of example as to what it means to be the man or the head of the house?
When Peter asked the Lord how they were going to pay their taxes to the Roman government, Jesus told him go fishing and to take a coin from the mouth of the first fish he caught. What this teaches us is that our heavenly Father is a provider.
We see the same, and even to a much greater extent with God’s provision for His children, the Jews, in their 40 years in the wilderness, providing manna every day.
This can also be seen in the New Testament when Jesus fed the multitude with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. First He prayed and gave thanks to His heavenly Father, and then the Lord multiplied the fish and bread to feed this great multitude several times. This is another example our heavenly Father’s provision.
And so using our heavenly Father as our example, we as fathers are to provide for our families as well.
The Apostle Paul said, “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 5:8 NKJV)
This always got to me, because you have to wonder why he would say that he is worse than an unbeliever? I think it’s because even unbelieving father’s are just as hardwired to care and provide for the family. God it would seem has hardwired men to be providers.
In fact this is seen in the very beginning. When God set Adam in the Garden, God told him to tend it. This word in the Hebrew language means to work. It was Adam’s job to nurture and keep the garden well maintained. But Adam blew it, and so God set both Adam and Eve outside the Garden. And to Adam the Lord told him that from this time forward he would have to work hard to provide, that is, by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:17-19). It would seem that working for God in the Garden was an easy gig.
As dads we have the awesome responsibility of providing for our families. Now, this doesn’t take away from a wife’s employment and how sometimes they are the sole breadwinners of the family, especially in the case of single parents. But according to the Scriptures and the example set forth in God’s word, the brunt of the responsibility to provide for the welfare of a family rests on the shoulders of the husband.
The problem is in keeping a healthy balance between providing physically and emotionally.
Dads are always striving to maintain a balance of providing for their family and spending quality time with the family. I believe that the Bible speaks to having a balance. Men are naturally hard wired to provide for their family and make a good home for their wives and children, but there’s a constant struggle to maintain a balance between the giving of our time and the giving of our things.
I remember being told by one father that this whole idea of quality time is bogus. He said that our families don’t need quality time; instead they need us to spend quantity time with them. It is then that quality time is established.
A father also expresses his love though discipline.
Discipline is difficult, and it is often times received as a bad thing, but it is a fruit of fatherly love. Dads have to discipline if they love their children.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NKJV)
A dad disciplines because he should want the best for his children. Children raised in the discipline of a strong and loving father have greater discipline as adults, and disciplined adults make greater contributors to society.
It’s the lack of healthy and loving discipline that I believe has led to a lot of what we’re experiencing now in what many are describing as our current entitlement culture.
Discipline is then an act of a loving father urging his kids to live the right way, for their own healthy development and growth.
Consider again the wisdom of proverbs.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)
The Living Bible says it this way, “Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”
And so while discipline is frowned upon by today’s society and culture, when it is done in love and in a healthy way that does no harm to the child, it is the most positive thing that a father, or for that matter a parent, can do for their children and for our society.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV)
The primary gift and expression of love from a dad is the legacy of salvation.
I found something quite interesting. It is said that if the mother is the first to accept Christ within a family, 17 percent of the homes will see the remainder of its members accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability that everyone else in the household will follow.
Of the prison warden in Philippi who had the responsibility of Keeping Paul and Silas locked up. It says that after he came to faith, so did his whole household (Acts 16:25-40).
A dad who loves his family will do his best to lead them in the way of the Lord. This was the Lord’s instruction for the family.
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NKJV)
Paul uses a father’s spiritual leadership in the home to describe his own relationship with the church in Thessalonica.
“As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NKJV)
And so, as spiritual leader of the home, a husband and father needs to nurture this relationship, which is literally built into every man. But not nurture the way a woman nurtures, but rather nurture in the way of protection.
This responsibility is actually built into every man. It’s part of God’s purpose from the very beginning before sin entered into the picture.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15 NKJV)
Now, we looked at this word, “tend,” earlier. But it’s from the word, “keep,” that we get this idea of protection. In the Hebrew language it means to guard and protect. But against what was Adam suppose to guard and protect the Garden from? It says that everything God created was good. So what wasn’t good? Satan.
And the same responsibility lies with husbands and fathers today. We need to spiritually guard and protect our family from our spiritual enemy, Satan.
A dad is someone who should love his family no matter what; who takes care of them; who provides for them; who spends time with them, even though he’d rather be doing something else. But most importantly a father should live a life as an example.
And when we as dads and parents start following our heavenly Father’s example of love, can you just imagine what sort of families, churches, and society we’d have and be living in.
Just the other day I had this thought that I shared with those on my social media accounts. I called it “The Gift of Our Father’s Love.”
Our Heavenly Father absolutely loves us. It is said that if God had a refrigerator, our picture would be on it. Or if God had a wallet, our photo would be in it. Think about it this way, in this great big universe with it multiple dimensions, God could choose to live anywhere, yet the place He desires to reside is in our hearts.
God created us for a love relationship with Him. His desire is to be with us, to walk, talk, and know us and to be known by us on an intimate basis every day.
The only problem is that our sin separates us from this relationship. But because of God’s great gift of love we can enter into this intimate relationship with Him.
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
This Father’s Day remember the Father’s wonderful gift of unconditional love.
Men, I pray this would be said of all of us, that we would love our families, our wives and children with this same unconditional love. What a legacy this would be to the next generation.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study