1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
A few years ago, CBS aired a special called “Arnold Palmer: the Man and His legend.” The first question to Mr. Palmer went something like this: “Mr. Palmer, you are a man whose influence and leadership have been felt around the world. If there is one thing that has contributed to the making of Arnold Palmer and to the respect that you command everywhere, what would that be?” Without hesitation, Arnold Palmer answered: “The influence of my father!”
If you are a father, or if you hope to be a father one day, then I want you to understand the tremendous influence that a father has upon his family, and thus, upon the world. Fathers are important to God, because they are created in His image, and He was the first Father. He has laid out before us in His Word a model to follow.
From these two verses, I would like to show you three qualities to which we should aspire if we want to be godly fathers. First, if you want to be a godly father, then, you must be watchful and stand firm in the faith. It is incredible, and quite honestly scary, to think about all of the influence that fathers have over their families, particularly their children.
Here are some interesting statistics: When a child is first to find faith in Christ, about 5% of the time the family follows. When a mother is first to find faith in Christ, 22% of the time the family follows. However, when a father is first to find faith in Christ, 93% of the time the family follows. It is in the family environment led by a Christian dad that God does an incredible work. Satan knows and understands this. This why he has sought to destroy the family ever since the first family of Adam and Eve. And he takes direct aim at the father. Understand that if Satan can bring down the father, he can destroy the family.
Dads, we must not give Satan a foothold in our families. That is why we as dads must be watchful. We must be on our guard at all times. The reason is because we have an adversary. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan desires to take your family and rip apart. And the reason is because he knows that as the family goes, so goes the nation.
I have a group of about fifteen young men in their twenties that I meet with every Monday. Recently, I talked to them about the influence their fathers have had on them. I asked them this question: What are some of the traits both positive and negative that boys learn from their dads? They mentioned the following: When it comes to hobbies, if dad enjoys hunting and fishing, often his son enjoys hunting and fishing. When it comes to work, if dad is a farmer, the son tends to be a farmer. When it comes to politics, if dad is conservative or liberal, then often so is his son. When it comes to relationships with women, if dad treats his wife with respect, the sons tend to show that same respect to the opposite sex. When it comes to negative traits, if dad uses foul language, if he treats his wife abusively, if he has a temper, or if never steps foot into a church, his sons will behave in a similar manner. The reason is because sons tend to follow in the footsteps of their dads.
Men, our sons and daughters are watching us. Thus, we must guard our actions. In James Dobson’s book, Bringing up Boys, he writes, “If character training is a primary goal of parenting, and I believe it is, then the best way to instill it is through the demeanor and behavior of a father. Identification with him is a far more efficient teacher than lecturing, scolding, punishing, bribing and cajoling. Boys watch their dads intently, noting every minor detail of behavior and values…Your sons will imitate much of what you do.”
Someone once said, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.” Dads, our children are watching. They may not hear what you say, but they observe what you do, and what you do will impact them for life. So we must be on our guard. Protect the family from what comes across the internet, from what you watch on TV, and from the movies you attend as a family. Guard your tongue. Stay on your knees. Spend time in the word of God. Be careful what you allow into your mind and heart, because what is in your heart will come out. Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Understand that not only are we to be watchful, but we must stand firm in the faith. We must not waver. Men, we are in a spiritual battle. Paul gives us a warning in Ephesians 6:11-13: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
How do we stand firm? Well, you first need to know who you are as a man, and what you want the “message of your life” to be to your family. Do you know exactly what you are trying to accomplish in your home? Do you have a plan of action? This plan should begin with a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, who will then become the Lord of your life, and guide you through all of the decisions that you as the head of your family must make that will impact your family for generations.
Without Christ in your life, it is impossible to live your life as a godly father.
You also need other Christian dads to hold you accountable. Ecclesiastes 4:12 states, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” You need to have a least two other men in your life who will confront you when you are getting off the right path. Finally, with the Holy Spirit in your heart, and the Word of God in your mind, God will teach you how to live as a man.
In summary, we, as fathers, must be watchful and stand firm in the faith. Next week, we will consider the other qualities that are necessary to live in this fallen world as godly fathers. Stay tuned.