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.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been considering the influence of the father. In the above passage of Scripture, Paul gives us three qualities of a godly father. First and foremost, he is a man who is alert to the enemy, Satan, and who stands firm in his faith in Christ. From that faith, he does not waver. Furthermore, he is a man who is strong in his character and who genuinely acts like a man. What the world needs to see today, perhaps more than at any other time in our history, is a man who acts like a man.
And finally, there is another quality that the world needs to see exhibited in fathers. Love. A man who desires to be a godly father, should do everything in love. Love needs to be the driving force in our hearts as we engage with our wives and our children.
John MacArthur writes, “Love complements and balances everything else. It is the beautiful, softening principle. It keeps our firmness from becoming hardness and our strength from becoming domineering. It keeps our maturity gentle and considerate. It keeps our right doctrine from becoming obstinate dogmatism and our right living from becoming smug self-righteousness.”
Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” Men are not naturally loving creatures. Thus, love, like spiritual strength, must come from the Lord.
Paul describes this kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Dads, I believe that the most important thing that we can do for our children is love our wives. What does this look like? Let your children see you be affectionate with your wife. I remember when my two boys were young they used to love it when I would flirt with my wife, Creecy, right in front of them. They giggled when they observed our affection for each other. However, as they got older, they would act like they didn’t like it. But deep down inside, they loved seeing our affection for each other. It made them feel secure. A strong, loving relationship between a husband and a wife will provide the greatest source of security for a family.
Moreover dads, love for your children is spelled T-I-M-E! Make sure you spend time with your sons and daughters. Do special things with them that show them how much you care for them. Be affectionate with your sons. Demonstrate this by giving them frequent hugs. And if you want to ensure that your daughters will not seek inappropriate affection from boys, then make sure they know how much you love them. Give them appropriate affection often.
I know that this devotion is painful for some women and children who have husbands and fathers who have not been godly men. Some of you are single moms. Either your husband has died, or you are divorced. And some of your boys and girls may be growing up in a home without a dad present because of divorce. Or maybe your dad, although present, has not been a very good father. I want to address those of you who find yourself in this situation. And I speak from experience.
I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father who did not serve as a good role model to me as a father. It was the most painful experience of my life as a young boy. I can remember times when my family, my mother and my two sisters were having dinner and the seat at the head of the table was empty. Dad was missing. Late again. Suddenly, the back door would open, and my dad would come in drunk.
I remember watching him stumble into the kitchen, noticing that he smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred. I remember asking him, “Dad, why are you drinking?” He couldn’t even give me an answer.
I remember another time when I was at basketball practice and a handful of dads were standing over in the corner of the gym watching their sons practice. All of a sudden the door to the gym slammed open, and there stood my dad. The moment I saw him I knew he was drunk. He made all kinds of commotion. Meanwhile, I tried to listen to the coach and continue with practice as if my dad were not there. But I know everyone noticed him.
I remember going to restaurants with a drunken father who embarrassed me. I know what it’s like not to have a healthy role model. I can remember watching my neighbor’s dad come home who was not even a Christian, but he was a good father, and I remember thinking to myself, “I wish my dad was like him!”
You may be wondering, “Russ, how did you survive? To whom did you turn?” Well, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and God became my heavenly Father. I began to read the Bible, and I sensed God’s presence with me in my life. I would go to my heavenly Father and pray for my earthly father.
My parents later divorced and I went off to college to be on my own. I never had a father to give me any advice on dating, school, work, marriage, finances, spiritual matters or on anything. Had it not been for God, I would have been totally on my own. I made plenty of mistakes.
But my heavenly Father was always with me. He guided me. He protected me.
When I wandered away, He brought me back. He led me to a godly woman, because that is what I had been praying for. He gave me two wonderful sons. I now have two incredible daughters-in-law. Moreover, in spite of my many sins, and in spite of my lack of a role model, God called me to full-time ministry.
I’m living proof that if you don’t have a healthy role model, if you have Jesus Christ in your heart, then God is your perfect heavenly Father. He will guide you through this life and bring you to the end of life safe and secure in Him.
To you moms who are trying to raise your children without a man around…trust God. Lean on Him. He is your heavenly husband. God can and will provide healthy role models for your sons and daughters through coaches, teachers and Scout masters. Know that God has other means to provide masculine role models if your husband or father is missing.
To you young men and young ladies, if your dad is missing or not a very good dad…trust in God as your heavenly Father. Romans 8:14-15 states, “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 contains the very words that I believe God desires to communicate to you right now: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”
Men, our families need us. Our children need to see godly men, who are standing firm in the faith, who are acting like men, and who do everything in love.
General Douglas MacArthur is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He led the Allied armies to victory over the Imperial Japanese army in WWII, and then commanded our United Nations forces in Korea. His accomplishments on the battlefield explain why he is still revered today. He was a man who acted like a man.
But there is another reason for admiring this man. It can be traced to a speech he gave in 1942, after he had been given an award for being a good father. This is what he said on that day: “Nothing has touched me more deeply than this honor by the National Father’s Day committee. By profession, I am a soldier and take great 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 potentialities 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, but in the home.”
And that is my hope for my two sons. Amen!