Happy Father’s Day
A dad said to his sons, “Come on! You guys are late!” His 11-year-old son answered, “Don’t blame us. You should have started yelling at us sooner.” Happy Father’s Day!
A dad said to his six-year-old daughter, “Someday you will have feelings for boy.” “I already do,” she said. “Really?” “Yes. They make me mad.” Happy Father’s Day!
A dad said to his five-year-old son, “Stop cheating.” “I’m not cheating,” answered his son. “I’m only helping myself win.” Happy Father’s Day!
“Daddy,” said his four-year-old daughter, “your job is to kill the spiders in the house.” Happy Father’s Day!
A 6-year-old girl said, “Dad needs to get mom something so he can be ungrounded. I’m going to make her something and say it’s from him.” Happy Father’s Day!
Yes, Happy Father’s Day! A day that leads to three things for this message. First, a look at two passages that deal with how fathers are to behave. Of course, not all men are fathers, but it seems important to consider how fathers are to behave. Then one that tells women who are wives how they are to treat their husbands. Then some that teach children how their fathers are to be treated.
First, how are fathers to behave? There are numerous passages that address that question. The first of the two we will consider in this message is Proverbs 22:6.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
As we know, much of the Book of Proverbs consists of short teachings about how to live in just about every aspect of life. Many of the verses teach the need for wisdom - and how to use wisdom. Some give warnings about who to avoid, as in, for the males of our species, immoral women. Some others, including 22:6, deal with the role of a father.
This teaching can also be applied to mothers, but there is a responsibility fathers have to train their children. Train up a child in the way he - or she - should go.
There are many aspects of training. I can think of educational training. My dad always made my school progress a priority. I can think of physical training. My dad had visions of me being a great baseball player. That failed to work out very well, but he made sure I had opportunities to learn and kind of develop some skills. I can think of politeness training, as in how to be polite during meals and when greeting people. That sort of thing.
All those kinds of training are very important. However, Proverbs 22:6 speaks of something even more important. It challenges fathers to be responsible for the spiritual training of their children. Training children need about the way they should go spiritually.
What does that include? How about learning how to treat God the way He deserves to be, as in Him being worthy of being worshiped and learned about and obeyed? How about learning how to treat others, as in being kind and having compassion? How about learning how to treat themselves? We know the commandment to love others as you love yourself. That includes that we, including our children, need to love ourselves. Not arrogantly, but knowing we have worth because we were created by God
Training can be done in a number of ways. It can be done by word. Fathers, are you reading the Bible to your children so they can be helped to learn how to treat God, others, and themselves? It can also be done by example.
Which leads to the point that those who are fathers need to, on their own, read and study and internalize the Bible so they will know what to teach. What to encourage.
Did we hear the reward? By the way, a proverb is a teaching of what we are to do and what the end result should be. My study indicates these are not so much promises as they are things that should happen. What should happen when fathers train up their children in the way they should go - when fathers teach them what they need to know spiritually - when the child is old, he or she will not depart from what was taught.
Of course it is wonderful when fathers see their children living righteous lives, but even if it takes longer than desired to reach that point, a father can know he did his best to train appropriately.
Fathers, train up your children in all ways, including spiritually. The reward for doing so will hopefully be wonderful to behold at all times.
Here is the second passage for this part of this message. Another single verse. Colossians 3:21.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
Whenever I speak about a verse such as this, I am quick to point out I am not a father. I therefore do not have any experience of avoiding provoking. Nor do I have a very good idea of the line between provoking and maintaining proper discipline. Meaning I realize this verse is much easier to preach that it is to do.
But the teaching is clear. Fathers, do not provoke your children, defined this way. Continually demanding and complaining, causing the father to be seen by his children as an enemy rather than an encourager.
Provoking is dangerous because it can discourage a child, defined as a child losing heart. As it applies to our first passage, losing interest in even trying to learn the proper ways to live spiritually, knowing the father will never be satisfied.
Such a state is dangerous. It is to be avoided.
Other teachings for fathers challenge them to discipline, but to discipline appropriately, meaning to fall short of provoking the child to give up or rebel against even the notion of living righteously.
Fathers, train up your children in the way they should go. Fathers, avoid provoking your children. The end result hopefully will be children encouraged to go the way they should go, not only when they are children, but as they grow into adulthood and beyond.
Proverbs 22:6 and Colossians 3:21 describe for fathers what they are to do, which can be accomplished with the help of God. Let’s now move to the help a wife - the mother of a father’s children - should be for the father of her children. For this, another single verse. Colossians 3:18. The same teaching is found in Ephesians 3, but we will stay where the last verse was. Colossians 3:18.
“Wives, be subject to your husbands.”
Wives, what do you suppose it means to be subject to your husband? I will suggest it means to show him respect.
And what do you suppose that means? Concerning that, I found an online article on that topic that I think is interesting. Here is some of the article, which listed a number of ways wives can show respect to their husbands.
Listen with a genuine heart when he talks. Care about what he says. According to the article, even if you do not agree with everything he says.
Encourage him. Do your words lift him up rather than tear him down?
I am not sure why this popped into my mind when I wrote this part of this message, but I remember one evening when I was growing up when my mother said, in front of my dad, sister, and me, “If only I was married to a real man.” I have no idea what caused my mother to make such a comment. There was no doubt more to the story than what I heard. But even at the time I wondered how that made my dad feel. What was said was certainly not encouraging.
Here is an interesting one. Do things he finds fun. Even if you think what he wants to do is boring.
Forgive. As I share with couples preparing for marriage, there will hopefully be few if any times when forgiveness will be needed, but if and when such a time comes, Jesus gave the number of time forgiveness is to be given. He said that number is seven times seventy times, which works out to 490 times. The teaching is that by the time one of a couple reaches 490 times, it will be such a habit, forgiving will continue.
Pray for him. The call in the article is to intentionally pray. Be a prayer warrior, taking the needs of his heart before God. As the article words it, doing this will help you as a wife to stay in tune with your husband’s needs and better equip you to respond like Christ during difficult days.
Of course, the items on the list are also ways for husbands to show love to their wives, but the point is, since this is Father’s Day, that as a wife - as a mother - listens and encourages and is interested in and prays for her husband - the father of her children - he will feel better, which should translate to him being a better father. Less apt to provoke his children. More interested in training his children in the way they should go, including spiritually. Making it more likely those children will follow the way of God when they reach adulthood.
Proverbs 22:6 and Colossians 3:21 describe for husbands what they are to be like, which can be accomplished with the help of God. In Colossians 3:18, there are instructions for wives, including mothers, which can be followed with the help of God.
There is one more part to the equation. It is the children of, for today, fathers. For those of you in that category, the Bible also has instructions, found many places, some of which will be highlighted in this message.
The first ones return us to the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, where the same teaching is found, with different rewards.
“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight.”
Hear. Be attentive. Children, listen to, learn from, give heed to your father’s instruction. This refers to instructions about the way you should go spiritually. It refers to instructions given without provocation. The kind of teaching promoted by wives who treat their husbands with respect.
Why be attentive? So you may gain insight, which is understanding. Understanding of the word of God - the teachings of God. Understanding your father’s instructions about the proper ways to live to be in good relationships with God, with others, with yourself.
The gist is that fathers are to know the word of God so well that what they teach is based on the Bible. As that happens, children are to listen so they, too, will be able to know the Bible well, which will help them personally and also give opportunities to share the word of God with others, one day extending to their children.
“My son, be attentive to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may keep discretion.”
Children, again, be attentive to what your father teaches you. All the things he teaches, especially spiritual things. Fathers, be sure you are teaching spiritual things, but children, listen.
That is so important because listening is to give you discretion. Listen to what that word means. Having discretion is striving to avoid offending someone, knowing it is sometimes better to avoid a dangerous situation than confront it.
That is very important spiritually, including what follows in Proverbs 5. This was written mainly to young men, but I dare say immorality can also be the bane of young women. Either way, listen to these teachings about the danger of immoral women, who fathers should teach their sons to avoid, which is part of training them in the way they should go. In this case, the way to avoid.
Proverbs 5:3-4, 8.
“For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood. Keep your way from her, and do not go near the door of her house.”
How this is to be done is found in Proverbs 6:21.
“Bind your father’s instruction upon your heart always; tie them about your neck.”
In other words, have them in you and with you at all times. That is how they can be remembered, even in times of temptation, when clear thoughts could be the farthest from your mind.
This is critical because of something that is recorded in the New Testament in the first part of Ephesians 6.
Right before Ephesians 6, wives and husbands are taught how their relationship is to be done to stay strong. Wives, be subject to - respect - your husbands. Husbands, love your wives.
Then chapter 6:1-3.
“Children, obey your parents, for this is right. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise - that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”
Honor your father and mother. That is part of the Ten Commandments given by God to His people. But there is not just the instruction. There is also a promise for children who obey and do honor their parents. It, too, is part of the Ten Commandments. Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.
For those who first heard the Ten Commandments, this referred to the people of God living well and living long in the Promised Land. For us, this refers to having a life complete with God’s blessings, even here in Nebraska.
Length of life? I do not know what that means since some people, including Christians, die at much younger ages than others. The point, though, is that as long as life does last on the earth, life can be good. The teaching is that life will be good for those who honor - including listening to and obeying the spiritual teachings of - their parents, including their fathers.
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This message began with some things children have said to their fathers. The ones shared were humorous. Here are some other things - some serious things - a father wrote he hopes his children have said or will say about him.
He loved us. We could see his love in his words, face, and actions.
He loved our mom.
He cared about people more than money.
He always had great hope for us and pushed us to be better.
I knew I could count on him when I needed him.
He was always asking about my friends, making sure we were good for each other .
All of these are part of training up children to go the way they should go.
And one more. He was spiritual. Debra shared these statistics with me. Fathers, listen to the importance you have. When a child is the first in the family to be saved, 3.5% of families get saved. When the wife is the first to be saved, 17% of families get saved. Listen. When the husband/father is the first to be saved, 93% of families get saved.
Fathers, take your spiritual role as seriously as it is intended to be. That is taught in places like Proverbs and Colossians.
Women - wives and mothers - support your husband in his role. That is taught in Colossians.
Children, help your father by obeying him. That will also help you. That is taught in Proverbs and Ephesians.
Today’s closing song is the same one we sang on Mother’s Day. It is hymn Take Our Love, Lord.
Take our love, Lord, make it Your love;
Take our life, Lord, make it Your life.
Take our home, Lord, make it Your home;
Take it all, Lord, make it Yours.
Lord, You never leave us wondering the best ways to love, to live, to run our homes. You tell us in the Bible exactly how to do each of those things. You tell us clearly. Keep us dedicated to learning and, with Your help, obeying what You teach. Help those who are fathers obey, those who are women obey, those who are children obey. Amen.