By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Have you ever heard the official history of Father’s Day?
In 1909, a woman named Sonora Dodd was listening to a sermon about Mother’s Day. Her father, William, had been widowed and was raising six children all by himself. The first official Fathers’ Day was held on June 19, 1910. (June was chosen because that was the month that Sonora’s father was born). Then in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared that the third Sunday in June would be recognized as Father’s Day all over the United States of America.
In this article, i want to share some thoughts with you about fathers. As fathers and mothers go, I was (am) blessed to have top-notch ones. I still remember a conversation a friend of mine had with another after meeting my parents. The one asked, “What are Tabata’s parents like?” The other replied, “Dude, they’re like the Waltons.”
Too many in our country did not have the blessing I did growing up: having a Christian father and mother.
Let me share with you a passage of Scripture which I believe teaches us several important lessons about godly fathers.
Matthew 7:7-11-7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
The Motivation Of A Godly Father
From this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us many lessons about the motivations of a godly father. In fact, the motivation of the godly father can be summed up in the word that Jesus uses to describe the Fatherhood of God Himself: the word “good.” The words used for “good” are also usually interchangeable with the ideas of kindness and compassion:
“This adjective means good or well; it describes goodness, beauty, and moral uprightness. Throughout the process of creating, God declared all that he made “good” (Gen. 1:31). The entire creation is inherently valuable, it is well done, and God is satisfied with what he has made….agathos means “good,” though its connotations overlap with kalos (“beautiful”) and chrstos (“kind”)….kalos denotes the quality of an object or action that is beautiful, ordered, or virtuous and may be translated as “beautiful, good.”” (William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 12302-12359 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan).
The word “good” is a powerful little word, and one that is often misunderstood. It carries with it the idea of that which is intrinsically wholesome; that which is altruistic (seeking the good of others). Therefore, the godly father is one who sincerely desires the good of his children. This is illustrated by Jesus in this passage.
“Jesus’ examples are carefully chosen. He takes three examples, for Luke adds a third to the two Matthew gives. If a son asks for bread, will his father give him a stone? If a son asks for a fish, will his father give him a serpent? If a son asks for an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? (Luke 11: 12). The point is that in each case the two things cited bear a close resemblance. The little, round, limestone stones on the seashore were exactly the shape and the colour of little loaves. If a child asks for bread, will a parent mock that child by offering a stone, which looks like bread but which is impossible to eat? If a child asks for a fish, will a parent give that child a serpent? Almost certainly, the serpent is an eel. According to the Jewish food laws, an eel could not be eaten, because an eel was an unclean fish. ‘Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you’ (Leviticus 11: 12). That regulation ruled out the eel as an article of diet. If a child asks for a fish, will a parent indeed give that child a fish, but a fish which it is forbidden to eat, and which is useless to eat? Would a parent mock a child’s hunger like that? If the child asks for an egg, will the parent give that child a scorpion? The scorpion is a dangerous little animal. In action it is rather like a small lobster, with claws with which it clutches its victim. Its sting is in its tail, and it brings its tail up over its back to strike its victim. The sting can be exceedingly painful, and sometimes even fatal. When the scorpion is at rest, its claws and tail are folded in; and there is a pale kind of scorpion, which, when folded up, would look exactly like an egg. If a child asks for an egg, will a parent mock that child by offering that child a stinging scorpion? God will never refuse our prayers; and God will never mock our prayers. The Greeks had their stories about the gods who answered people’s prayers, but the answer was an answer with a barb in it, a double-edged gift. Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal youth, so the Greek story ran. Zeus, the king of the gods, offered her any gift that she might choose for her mortal lover. Aurora very naturally chose that Tithonus might live forever, but she had forgotten to ask that Tithonus might remain forever young; and so Tithonus grew older and older and older, and could never die, and the gift became a curse. There is a lesson here: God will always answer our prayers; but he will answer them in his way, and his way will be the way of perfect wisdom and of perfect love. Often, if he answered our prayers as we at the moment desired, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin. This saying of Jesus tells us not only that God will answer, but also that God will answer in wisdom and in love.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel Of Matthew-Volume One, 4908-4937 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrews Press)
The main ideas behind these illustrations are to show us the genuineness of the Father’s love for mankind. The Lord is not going to trick His people; He does not want to harm His people. Instead:
Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Micah 7:18-Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.
The Vocation Of A Godly Father
Jesus teaches us here also about the fact that the godly father is more than just someone who DESIRES the good of his children; instead, he is willing to work and sacrifice to provide for those children. Notice that the loving father in this passage will assuredly help and care for his child in need; and this reflects the heart of the loving Father in Heaven Who desires to give “good” things to His children (Matthew 7:11).
God the Father Himself is the ultimate Example of this Fatherhood. Jesus discusses how how God watches over and provides for His children. Truthfully, the Sermon on the Mount also shows us how well God takes care of people in providing for them in the form of the sun and the rain:
Matthew 5;44-45-44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Every day that we live, God displays His goodness to the world of mankind (cf Acts 14:17).
In the same way, godly fathers will attempt to provide for their children. They are willing to do whatever they can to help them in their need and trials.
Sadly, in our day and age, many “men” have lost sight of the importance of this. Children need their mothers, but they also need their fathers!
In order to understand the crisis in American homes, consider the following:
““America leads the industrialized world in fatherlessness.31 And among those who have fathers, the average school-age boy in the United States spends just half an hour per week in one-to-one conversation with his father, according to David Walsh, founder of Mind Positive Parenting. “That compares with 44 hours a week in front of a television, video game screen, Internet screen,” he says. “I think that we are neglecting our boys tremendously. The result of that is our boys aren’t spending time with mentors, with elders, who can really show them the path, show them the way of how it is that we’re supposed to behave as healthy men.”32
The effect of fatherlessness and the lack of rites of passage are underestimated. Boys suffer when there’s no father in the home or no positive male role models in their lives; they start to look for a male identity somewhere else. Some guys find it in a gang, other guys find it in drugs, alcohol, playing video games and objectifying women. Another side effect of fatherlessness is increased incidence of attention and mood disturbances.” (Philip G. Zimbardo & Nikita Duncan. “The Demise of Guys, 69-70 (IBooks Edition)).
We need to realize that one of the greatest needs in our country is for men to strive to be godly fathers. The Bible certainly highlights this:
1 Timothy 5:4-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.
1 Timothy 5:8-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.
Godly fathers will desire the best for their children, and they will work and sacrifice to care for them.
Even more to the point, though, is this: children need their fathers to instruct them in the way of the Lord. In describing the need for parents to teach children the Word of God, Moses declared:
Deuteronomy 6:7-You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
The Apostle Paul declared:
Ephesians 6:4-And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Years ago, I came across this poem that truly illustrates the important role that fathers play in teaching their children:
“There are little eyes upon you, and they’re watching night and day, There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say; There are little hands all eager to do everything you do, And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you. You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise; In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise; He believes in you devoutly, holds that all you say and do He will say and do in your way when he’s grown up like you. There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right, And his ears are always open and he watches day and night, You are setting an example every day in all you do, For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you. (Croft M. Pentz, The Speaker’s Treasury of 400 Quotable Poems)
The Veneration Of A Godly Father
Finally, I want to suggest to you that godly fathers deserve to be honored and respected. The problem with “father’s day” is that it is only one day a year! In truth, it should be much more often-it (like Mother’s Day) should really be every day!
The text here in Matthew actually illustrates this. Look carefully at verse seven. Do you see that word “knock?” It is actually a very interesting word in the Greek New Testament, and carried with it the idea of a “reverent” knocking. The Amplified does a fine job translating it:
Matthew 7:7 (Amplified)-Keep on asking and it will be given you; N2 keep on seeking and you will find; N3 keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.
Godly fathers deserve our respect. We are reminded of this in the Decalogue:
Exodus 20:12-Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
Godly fathers, thank you for all that you do, and may God richly bless you.
I want to bring this article to a conclusion by sharing these words with you from the pen of the famous commander, Douglas MacArthur:
“By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder -infinitely prouder -to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.'”
Friends, the Father in Heaven (along with His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) loves you more than you can know. He wants you to become part of His family, forgiven of sin and added to His church. That is what Jesus’ death on Calvary is all about: the Son of God Who loved you and gave Himself for you (Galatians 2:20). On that cross, the Son of God paid the debt that you couldn’t pay (Matthew 20:28). He was buried, and He arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Will you not today believe in Him, repent of your sins, confess Him before men, and be baptized into Him to be forgiven of your sins (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38)?
If you have been baptized into Christ as a penitent believer, you are a member of His church (Acts 2:47). God calls us to live faithfully to Him (Revelation 2:10), but sometimes we turn away from Him and sin (1 John 1:8). Yet He tells us that if we will repent of sin and confess it to Him in prayer, He will forgive us and take us back (1 John 1:9-2:2).
Won’t you please return to Him today?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.