Three Gifts From Dad

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  2 : 8-12
Subject: Fathers; Dads
Introduction

Today is Father's Day. It is the day that dad's are to be recognized. But, more importantly, is a day for us to call upon Christian fathers to live up to the Biblical standards of fatherhood.

No one would disagree with me that family life in America is in trouble. And, why is this the case? It is important for us to recognize the cause of a problem before we can solve it. Some years ago, in a small town, the volunteer fire department received a call from an excited woman who yelled into the phone saying, "Send the fire truck."

She hung up before the fire department could get her address. In a moment she called again. Once more she did the same thing. The man answering the phone decided on a plan to find out where the lady was. When the phone rang again, he answered by asking, "Where is the fire?"

The lady promptly said, "In the kitchen!" and hung up. (Adapted from an illustration James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 110.) Without knowing where the lady's kitchen was, nothing could be done.

The homes in America are burning down, and though we cannot say that all of the problems relate to fathers, it is safe to say that one of the major reasons for this is that fathers often act with such irresponsibility. Someone has well said that we used to speak of our "Founding Fathers," but we now speak of "fathers that cannot be found." The deadbeat dad syndrome is one widely reported in our nation today. Single mothers raising children alone is rapidly becoming a major demographic change on the American landscape.

Fathers are setting a path for the next generation and it is, in most cases, not a good path. A man and his young son were climbing a mountain. They came to a place where the climbing was difficult and even dangerous. The father stopped to consider which way he should go. He heard the boy behind him say, "Choose the good path, Dad; I'm coming right behind you!" (Author unknown, James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 202.)

I want to share three things that fathers should be doing for their children. On this day, a day when fathers across our country will receive gifts from our children, I want us to think about some gifts fathers should give to their children. These are gifts that every father should seek to give on Father's Day and everyday!

I. The Expressions of Love from a Godly Father 2:8

The term used by Paul in this verse is never used anywhere else in the NT. Those who study Greek words extensively tell us that the word comes from the love of a parent for a baby or small child. Specifically, this word was used in ancient times to speak of a baby young enough to be nursing. Paul stated that he loved the Thessalonians with that kind of love.

This is the kind of love that Paul intimates should be part of a father's love for his children. It is a love which has characteristics that ought to be found in a godly father for a very young child.

A. Precious Love

A little baby is a precious thing. But even as a child grows, the father must continue to express genuine love. I read somewhere about a father who was sitting in his den watching television and his 16 year old daughter was on the sofa with him. The dad looked over at her and thought of how she used to come jump in his lap. He remembered the games he used to play with her. He recalled pushing her on the swing at the park. He thought about how she had grown up into a beautiful young woman and he was so proud of her. He wanted to tell her but he thought she would think it was silly. He wanted to hug her but he thought she would think she was too old for that mushy parent stuff. However, the daughter was thinking some things herself. She was thinking of the times her dad used to hug her and tell her how proud he was of her. She wondered why he never hugged her anymore. She wondered if he was disappointed in her now that she was older. Dad, you must never stop loving your children, and never stop telling them that they are loved. A father's gift is a precious love toward his children.

B. A Protective Love

Paul also pointed out that he had looked after the Thessalonians, working night and day in their behalf. He was using the illustration of a father's love to show the kind of love he had as the person who "fathered" the church at Thessalonica. You see, the fatherly love Paul was using in this letter tells us the kind of love we should have as fathers toward our biological children. It should be a protective love.

Think of how fragile a child's life really is. A tiny baby must be protected. His muscles cannot even hold up his own head. If a little baby is picked up incorrectly, his neck can be damaged or even broken.

A father must love his children with a protective love, not only when they are tiny but as they continue to grow. He must desire to keep them from the evil of this world, because that evil can do far greater damage than simply break a bone. He must watch and pray over his children.

C. A Patterned Love

A father must pattern his love after that of Christ, and then he must give that pattern to His children. Children learn a lot about love and hate from parents. Godly fathers must seek in show the love of Christ by example.

A young woman who was attending seminary had an unusual experience one day in class. Her professor was known to use some very unique methods for instructing his students. On the day in question, she arrived in class to find a big target with a number of darts on a table nearby. The professor told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture. The students began to draw pictures of friends who had hurt them, teachers they didn't like, etc. The class lined up and began to throw the darts. The class lined up and began throwing darts with much laughter and hilarity. Soon the targets were being hit with such force that they were torn. The professor stopped the fun, explaining that time was running out. The students took their seats, very disappointed that they couldn't keep up the dart throwing. Once they were all seated, the professor began to remove the target from the wall. The entire class was shocked to find a picture of Jesus underneath. A mournful hush fell over the students as they saw the mangled picture of Jesus. His picture was marked with torn holes over his body, face and eyes. The professor then quoted Matthew 25:40, "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." Tears filled the eyes of the students as they focused on what they had done to the picture of Jesus.

Dad, you teach your children to love or hate. You teach them to treat each person as if that person were Christ Himself, or you teach them to show prejudice, favoritism, and a judgmental spirit toward those they don't like.

II. The Examples in Life from a Godly Father 2:9-10

A father cannot merely say what his children should do, he must do those things that are proper as examples to his children. That is what Jesus did. In Philippians 2:5 we read that we are to have this mind in us which was in Christ Jesus. Jesus was humble and gave us example after example of how we are to act in the same way. You will remember how he knelt to wash His disciples feet. He taught us that we are to do the same. He did not just say we should do that, He knelt down and did it Himself!

Paul had lived out the example before the people at Thessalonica. We must do that in our families as fathers. The first example we must set is that of placing importance on the things of God. Worldly families place emphasis on pleasure, pride, and possessions. Godly families place emphasis on the bible, prayer, holiness, the church, and love for God and others.

In his book, Anchor Man, Steve Farrar shares that too many men are Nascar men. He goes on to explain that such men remind him of Nascar races. In stock car racing there is something called a pit stop. A race car comes off the racetrack into an area where a team of seven men are waiting. The moment the car stops they fly into action. They can pour in 22 gallons of gas, clean the windshield, change four tires and have the car moving again in around 18 seconds. Farrar states that many men are just like that. They try to run family life like a Nascar driver. They fly into the home, gulp their food, give instructions, and fly out again for games or career. The children do not know their dad! You must show by example how important your family is to you by spending quality time and a proper quantity of time with them.

III. The Encouragements for Living from a Godly Father 11-12

Finally, a father must be an encourager. He has a responsibility to inspire his children. Paul points out three specific things that this means.

A. Lift Them Up

The word encourage means to give confidence to. It means to lift a person up with words or actions.

B. Bind Them Up

Then, Paul says that fathers are to comfort their children. To comfort means to bind up the wounds and hurts of life.

The following appeared in a newspaper:

"Dear Ann Landers:

I am writing from behind bars. The charge? A felony--child molesting. Not a pleasant subject, I realize, but this letter is not being written to be pleasant or to gain sympathy.

You've never seen me in the parks or near playgrounds looking for victims. I don't play ball and I don't give out candy. I don't leer at children or stare at them, yet I've never lacked for victims. I've held several positions of responsibility working with the public. You've probably met me and liked me. Your children have learned that I can fix a bike and will talk to them when no one else has time to listen. When Mom was too busy or Dad was too tired, they came to me. I know more about your children's teachers and their school problems than you because they knew I was interested.

The two little girls I molested can never regain what was taken away from them and I will spend five years in prison. I was molested as a child and feel certain that at least two of my victims will grow up to be molesters. I am sick at heart, but the damage is done and I can't undo it.

The next time your child has something to tell you, don't be too busy to listen. Ask yourself, if I won't listen, who will?"

This is food for thought for any father. We need to take time to bind up the hurts of our children. We just can't be too busy for our children, to do so is to court disaster in their lives and ours.

C. Push Them Up

Lastly, a father is to urge his children to greater things. This means to give a gentle but firm shove in the right direction.

Tom Landry was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for almost 30 years. He was also a strong Christian. Someone asked him to explain his philosophy of coaching. Landry said that his job was to make men do what they didn't necessarily want to do so they can achieve what they have actually always wanted to achieve.

This is the task of a father. He must lead his children to do those things which may not seem easy to do in order that proper goals may be reached. In order to do this, a father must have the Heavenly Father's help. You, dad, can't do this alone. Today is a good day to ask God to empower you to do what you desire to do as a Christian father.

Let me add, the greatest thing a father can do for his child is to be saved and live like it! If you don't know Christ as your Savior, you are forever separated from you Father - your Heavenly Father. Come to Christ today and give Him your life. You can be right the Father and you can be the right father to your child or children!