Guidance for Godly Dads
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 16, 2013
*Today we honor our dads, and that is a good thing to do. It's a good thing to do most of all, because God commands us to honor our parents. In vs. 2&3, Paul echoed the Fifth Commandment from God's Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus:
2. "Honor your father and mother,'' which is the first commandment with promise:
3. "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.''
*God tells us to honor our dads. And all Godly dads want to be worthy of this honor. But let me tell you that it's not easy to be a good father. It's not easy, but the Bible can help us be dads who deserve this honor. How can we get there? How can we be good and Godly dads who deserve respect?
1. First: it's through a positive connection with our children.
*In vs. 4 Paul said, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."
*There is a mountain of truth in these few words. And they could have shocked the gentile Christians who first read them. That's because Ephesus was one of the chief cities in the Roman Empire. And the Romans had a radically different view of fatherhood.
*Brian Bill explained that "Rome had a law called 'patria potestas', which meant 'the father's power.' Men who were Roman citizens were given absolute property rights over their families. By law, the children and wife belonged to the father, and he could do whatever he wished with them. An unhappy father could disown his children, sell them as slaves, or even kill them.
*When a child was born, the baby was placed between the father's feet. If the father picked the baby up, the child stayed in the home. But if the father turned and walked away, the child was either left to die or sold at auction. Roman philosopher Seneca once explained the Roman way by saying: 'Children born weak or deformed we drown.'" (1)
*That was the Roman way. But God calls us to an infinitely higher way of life. God call us to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father. This means having a positive connection with our children. And that takes commitment. It takes involvement.
*This past week I read that 60% of all families in Richmond, Virginia are single-parent households. (2)
*That shows where we are as a society. But God wants us fathers to be actively involved in the lives of our children. Dads, we usually don't realize how important we are in our children's lives. Your children need you desperately.
*Jerry Shirley gave these statistics:
-Fatherless daughters are 164% more likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth.
-And they have a 92% higher divorce rate than girls raised with Dads in the home.
-Fatherless sons are 35% more likely to have a failed marriage.
-They are 300% more likely to become incarcerated in state juvenile institutions. (3)
*Your kids need a dad who is highly involved in their lives however and whenever you can be. Our involvement takes time. And God wants us to invest this time in our children. You will never hear a man my age say, "I wish I hadn't have spent so much time with my kids when they were young." But you will hear a lot of men, (including me) say, "I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were young."
*How can we be dads who deserve respect? -- By a positive connection with our children.
2. And by proper care for our children.
*Paul said, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." God wants us to provide and protect our children, just like He provides for us and protects us. But that is not enough. God says to bring our children up "in the training and admonition of the Lord."
 This certainly includes giving proper correction to our kids, just as our Heavenly Father corrects us.
*As He said in Proverbs 3:11-12:
11. My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction;
12. for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
*It's not always easy to know where, when and how to discipline our children. And if you've got more than one, it's not always easy to know who to discipline.
-"He started it!" -- No! She started it!"
-"Who did that?" -- "Not me." "Not me." "Not me."
*What's a dad to do? We must pray for wisdom to know who, when, and how to discipline our children. We surely don't want to beat or hurt our children. But there will be times when they need physical discipline. God's Word is clear on this. In Proverbs 13:24 God says: "He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him early." Proverbs 22:15 tells us that "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
*There are certainly times when use of the paddle is proper. And Dads: This is primarily our job. Most of the time when the Bible talks about disciplining children, it is the father's job. Of course, Moms have to discipline too, and there are other good ways to do it.
 Also know that God is talking about a whole lot more when He tells us to bring our children up "in the training and admonition of the Lord."
*That word "training" or "nurture" in the KJV is talking about the whole package of educating our children:
-Both their minds and their morals.
-Both their bodies and their souls.
*And that word "admonition" has the idea of calling children's attention to the things of God. The problem today is that many parents pay a lot more attention to earthly things than eternal things. A few years ago LifeWay conducted a national study to see how parents define "success" for their children. Sadly, only 9% of the parents included faith or godliness as part of the definition for their children's success. (4)
*You may be raising the smartest children in town. You may buy them all the best. You could send them to the best schools in the world. You could hire them personal trainers so they could be the best athletes in the state.
*But if you leave out the Bible, if you leave out Jesus and the cross and the things of God, you are not taking proper care of your children. In fact, you are hurting them worse than you can imagine. Bring your children "up in the training and admonition of the Lord." This is the most proper care we can give.
*So, how can we be dads who deserve respect? -- By proper care for our children.
3. And by pure character before our children.
*Our character counts, Dads. How are we going to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord, if we are not growing in the ways of the Lord? The truth is we will probably not even try to bring them up in a Godly way, if we are not trying to live in a Godly way.
*Our character counts. We may not be perfect, and we are not perfect. But we must strive to be our best.
-We must be trusting in the Lord.
-Repenting from our sins.
-Seeking the Lord.
-Growing from His Word.
-And walking in His ways.
*Here's some more great wisdom from Paul's letter to the Christians at Ephesus:
28. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Ephesians 4:28-32)
*Our character counts, Dads. And one of the main reasons why is because our children pay more attention to what we do than what we say.
*When Jerry Steen was a young pastor, he worked at a feed processing plant in Celina, Ohio. And Jerry said: "Each night when I went home, my boys would look at me and say, 'Boy, dad, you sure are dusty!' (Then) one Saturday morning, I started washing my car. And as I did this, my 4-year old son began to pick up the small rocks in our driveway and rub them on his pants.
*I asked him, 'What are you doing?' -- He said, 'I want to be dusty like you dad.'" Jerry realized right then that if his son would follow him in being dusty, -- he would follow him in anything. (5)
*How can we be dads who deserve respect? -- By pure character before our children.
4. And by patient compassion for our children.
*Patient compassion: Paul started vs. 4 by saying: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath. . ." How do we "provoke our children to wrath"? One way is by not keeping our commitments to them.
*But the most common way we provoke our kids is by being mean and irritable to them: Short fuse, impatient, over reacting, losing our temper over the smallest infractions. God's not like that. Our Heavenly Father is patient beyond measure. And He wants us to be patient with our children.
*We see God's patience many places in His Word. Listen to Psalm 103:8-14:
8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
*Another great place to see our Heavenly Father's patience is in the Lord's parable of the prodigal son. Jesus told this story in Luke 15:11-24. Listen to part of it today from the New Living Translation:
11. . . . "A man had two sons.
12. The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living.
14. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
15. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs.
16. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger!
18. I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,
19. and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man." '
20. So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.
21. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'
22. But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet.
23. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast,
24. for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.
*David Dykes said that scholars have discovered a similar story among the Jewish rabbis of Jesus' day. In their story, the younger son ran away and spent his father's money. But when he came crawling home, the father rejected him.
*So, as Jesus told this story, the Pharisees were thinking, "Yeah, I've heard this one before." They expected Jesus to say, "One day the father saw his son returning. He waited with his arms crossed. The broken-down son begged his father to take him back. But the father looked away from him and said, 'Forget it! You had your chance. You've chosen to live like a pig. Now go back to your pigs.'"
*In the original story the father turned his son away. But Jesus gave a surprise twist to the plot. In Jesus' parable, the father's heart was broken when his son left. Every day while he was gone, the father thought of the son. He wondered where he was and what he was doing.
*Each afternoon he would walk to the edge of his property, and look down the road that had taken his son away. He was looking, longing, and hoping that one day his son would return.
*Then one afternoon, he saw a bent over figure dragging along the road. And as he continued to look, there was something about the figure that looked familiar. In a flash, the father realized it was his son.
*Then he did an amazing thing. He jumped the stone fence and ran out to meet his son. The Jews of that day wore long robes. In order for a man to run, he had to lift his robe up high to keep from tripping over it. In doing so, he would bare his legs, which was considered highly undignified.
*Men of respect never ran. But this father didn't care. He pulled his robe up and ran as fast as he could to his son. Then Dad began to hug and kiss his rebellious son before the son said one word! The Greek verb there means that dad kept on kissing him.
*He smothered his son with kisses. And remember that the son had been working in the pigpen. He looked and smelled awful, not the kind of person you want to hug and kiss!
*The father could have said, 'Oh, you're back -- good. Clean yourself up before you come into this house!' Instead, the father accepted him 'just as he was.'" (6)
*That is the kind of patience our Heavenly Father has with us. And that is the kind of patience He wants us to have for our own children.
*Men: We can be fathers like that, if we have a Father like that. And the best news on this Father's Day is that we all can have a Father like that.
*God Himself wants to be our Heavenly Father, and He will be our Father, if we will receive His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That is why Jesus died on the cross. He paid the price for our sins. Then Jesus conquered death forever by rising again. And now we can have an everlasting relationship with the Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Trust in the Lord and you will have the best Father anyone could ever have.
*And Dads, this will help you be the best dad you could ever be. In fact, the only way to be the father God wants us to be is to have God Himself as our Heavenly Father.
*All of us need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And you can do that right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) SermonCentral sermon "Fathers who Lead" by Brian Bill - Eph 6:4
(3) SermonCentral sermon "Men Behaving -- Godly!" by Jerry Shirley - Psalms 112:1-10 - 06162004
(4) "Baptist Standard" - 5182009 - p. 7 - Source: "In Other Words" - June 2009 - #2 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (409) 866-2111 - www.iows.net
(5) Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Jerry Steen
(6) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "What is God Really Like?" by David Dykes - Luke 15:11-24