Happy Father’s Day! Especially to all of the dads in the congregation today, I want to wish you blessings. As a dad myself, I personally know the joy and fulfillment that comes from being a dad to two wonderful and beautiful kids, and that in itself is the blessing I enjoy every day.
So, from one dad to another, since we already have our abundant blessing in the form of our children, we don’t really need a special day out of the year to receive more blessings. What we do need is encouragement and challenge to continue to be strong and faithful in our responsibility.
As fathers, we have a tremendous responsibility to our children, and I want to touch on those points of responsibility as described in an article on Focus on the Family titled What Defines a Father?
1) father = source 父＝源
As fathers, we are an important source of our children’s genetic makeup, of course. Physically speaking, our children are one-half us! But more importantly, we are an important source of our children’s emotional makeup. We are responsible for our children growing up to be emotionally healthy: confident but not arrogant; humble but not insecure; kind but not condescending.
Children have an uncanny way of imitating or reacting to what they see in us, both the positives and the negatives. So dads, let’s be an example of confidence, humility, and kindness to our kids.
2) father = provision 父＝扶養
As fathers, we find joy in giving to our children. That’s because a chief role of fatherhood is to provide for his children. Jesus revealed this reality and also used it to explain the far surpassing goodness of God compared to us earthly fathers.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! –Matthew 7:11
3) father = correction 父＝戒め
Children don’t like discipline, but it actually fosters security and stability in them, because discipline provides them direction and guidance that children absolutely need. Good fathers mirror the fatherhood of God when they administer the short-term pain of discipline to shape their children’s long-term character.
The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. -Hebrews 12:6
Discipline is a very important aspect of loving our children, which brings us to our fourth and last point.
4) father = love 父＝愛
As fathers, we’ve had the privilege to experience how God feels as “our Father in heaven.” When we looked into the face of our newborn child for the very first time, we knew that we would love that child no matter what. That’s exactly how God feels about us.
Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. -1 John 3:1
As earthly fathers given charge and responsibility over our children, we are to love our children, just as our heavenly Father loves us all.
But, as earthly fathers, as much as we try our best to be a source of emotional health, provision, discipline, and love, we cannot measure up to our heavenly father. In fact, we fail miserably. Yes, even as supposedly mature Christians, we earthly fathers fail miserably.
My earthly father failed miserably. He was not a good role model in terms of emotional health in that he was short-tempered and abusive. He did not provide for us; instead he had a gambling problem which led to constant debt and financial insecurity. But he disciplined well, I’ll give him that. Though it hardly ever felt like it was out of love. But if one thing can be a valid excuse in all of this, he is not a Christian.
Why am I sharing this about my father? Because I feel that there are some of us here who…and maybe even all of us to some extent…need to forgive our earthly fathers and honor them on this Father’s Day.
As I mentioned earlier, as children, we have an uncanny way of imitating or reacting to what we see in our fathers.
The truth is that I don’t find many redeeming qualities about my father. But I also learned that if I don’t forgive him, I will start imitating his mistakes. If I don’t forgive him, I will start reacting instead of refining. If I don’t forgive him, I will repeat negative cycles in my own life and with my own children.
Fathers, actually this is to all of us now, if we want to grow in our character and be free from negative repetitive cycles in our own life, I want to encourage us, on this Father’s Day, to forgive our fathers of anything you’re holding against him. You may argue that he doesn’t deserve it, as I used to. But the reality is, we don’t deserve it either.
So forgive your father. Love him. Honor him. That’s what the Bible instructs us to do, and there are no exceptions. If it’s honestly difficult for you to do so, come to the front after this and let’s pray together. I implore you. This I say for your benefit. Fathers, you will become a better father and a better man if you can forgive your own father.
Ever since I was little, I knew that I didn’t want to become like my father. I wanted to become the opposite of who he was. But I also didn’t know what exactly that opposite character looked like. When I became a Christian, I finally knew. When I became a Christian, I finally had a model to look to in “our Father in heaven.”
That’s why, as Christian fathers, we need to point our children to our heavenly Father. We model emotional health, but our heavenly Father is our ultimate model of confidence, humility, and kindness. We model provision, but our heavenly Father is our ultimate provider. We discipline, but our heavenly Father is our ultimate judge. We love, but our heavenly Father is the ultimate “lover of my soul.”