The Importance Of Fathers
I complained to my wife that I couldn’t find any Father’s Day cards that I liked. Most of them were overly sentimental and gushy, sounding too much like a son’s or daughter’s desperate attempts to make up for a year’s (or more) inattention. They didn’t do a good job of expressing the gratitude of a son for a Christian father and for the blessings that God gives children through their fathers. To find the words to express such things the best place to begin is the Bible.
The importance of fathers is expressed and stressed in the Bible — though in a negative way — in what it says about the “fatherless.” The Law of Moses extended explicit protections to fatherless children. “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry” (Ex. 22:22). The Law also gave them privileges (Deut. 24:19-21), recognizing that the fatherless might well have extra trouble getting the necessities of life, food, clothing, and shelter, for these are things that fathers traditionally have provided for their children.
The Scriptures teach the importance of fathers also in a positive way. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Here the Lord gives fathers the primary responsibility for discipline in the home, but also much more than that. Fathers are to apply discipline as the spiritual leader in the home. They are to give that correction and admonition (or instruction) that is of the Lord, that is found in the Word. This includes especially instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian father teaches right and wrong of course, but he especially teaches, by word and example, the forgiveness of God in Christ.
The good things that fathers do for their children and give to their children are blessings from God, for fathers and mothers are God’s representatives to their children. As disciplinarians they are representatives of His holiness. As providers they are representatives of His goodness and generosity. As teachers of the Gospel they are representatives of His grace. And as representatives not only do they act toward their children on God’s behalf, they also demonstrate to them who their God is and what He is like, for it is His blessings that they bring to their children.
You fathers then should understand the importance of your place in the home and in the lives of your children. Yours is a God-given role, an essential part of God’s design for the family. No matter how important the work you do outside the home, raising your children is one of the most significant things you will do with your life.
All of which should not cause fatherless children and single mothers to despair. Where there is no father, the role of father can be filled by others; the Lord provides. And finally we all have one true Father, God Himself. Jesus has made us God’s own children and heirs. We have received “the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father'” (Rom. 8:15).
Earthly fathers may die and leave us. They may even be irresponsible and abandon us. But God is our Father forever. His blessings are ours forever.
–Pastor John Klatt