This article is taken from a sermon that I preached at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Mooresville, Indiana, on Father’s Day 2015. I dedicate it to my Dad, Cary Ross of Colbert, WA, who raised me and taught me many of the things that made me into the person that I am today. He demonstrated all these lessons to me. The picture is of me and my Dad on top of Steptoe Butte in Washington State back in April.
When I think of my father, I think of someone who taught me to work hard; to tell the truth no matter the outcome; to follow through and finish what I started; and to absolutely never stop until you find what you are looking for. When I think of my grandfathers, I first think of my dad’s dad. I knew him as Grandpa John. (He died in a plane wreck in 1984 when I was just 6 years old.) I think of a big, jolly soul who would give me great big bear hugs and squeeze the breath out of me. My mom’s dad, Grandpa Pete, was a self- made man who was a WW2 Vet (along with his 4 brothers, one of whom died on Normandy). He always told me his opinions about politics and shared with me his love of woodworking and ice cream! Fathers and grandfathers are special. With that in mind, I want you to think about these five lessons from a Father who raised a perfect Son.
* Just in case you are wondering, I am not saying that my father raised a perfect son, but my Heavenly Father raised His perfect Son!
1. Fathers are to love their children.
John 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
All too often, love is called a “feeling.” Love is more than a feeling. It will produce feelings, but love in and of itself is not a feeling. Love is an action word. We can see it all through scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” John 3:16 Because God loves, He gave! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Because God loves, He died. Real, Biblical love demands action. Fathers show love by their actions. That’s why dads are supposed to do things with their kids. Half of the battle is won just by showing up and being there for them; the other half is won by doing things with them and for them.
The second half of John 3:35 says, “…and hath given all things into his hand.” Love is expressed by the reward of trust and responsibility. My father used to always say, “Son, I am proud of you…” for absolutely no reason. I would just walk into the room. I never understood why as a boy; but as a father now, I do understand. I was growing up; I was becoming more responsible. I was mowing the lawn, washing the car, and taking out the trash. My father saw that, and he was proud. When your child grows and gains your trust, you reward them with more responsibility and trust. Fathers, love your children; show it by doing things with them and for them. Give them more trust and responsibility. Our Heavenly Father does the same thing!
According to John 15:9, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” The son will love like the father loves. You will only know if you succeeded in raising your children with love when you see them loving their own family. By the way, that means we as Christians are supposed to love like our heavenly father. The next time someone offends you or hurts you – forgive them. Then, go farther than just forgiving them: love them as Christ loves them. Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
2. Fathers are to listen to their children.
John 11:41-43 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth…
In verse 41 Jesus says, “I thank thee that thou hast heard me…” A child should have his father’s ear. If your child is speaking to you, listen! It is important to him that you are interested in what he is interested in. A child should always be able to speak what is on his mind. He should be able to ask questions without fear of reprisal or being made fun of. I am not saying that a child should be able to run his mouth or interrupt when adults are talking. What I am saying is that you should teach him when to speak, and then, when the time is right, he should never fear to come and speak to you with whatever is on his mind. A child should be able to contact his father at any time. In verse 42, Jesus said that his Father heard him always! There never was a time that he couldn’t get in touch with God. There have been times that I have picked up the phone and called my dad. If he couldn’t answer, he would call me back. One time, I called, and when he answered I learned that he was out of the country. He had just walked out of a meeting to answer the phone “because my boy is calling!” I wasn’t calling to interrupt his job, just to chat; but that meant a lot to me that he would do that! It is no different for you or me as a Christian: 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
3. Fathers must require that their will be accomplished.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Jesus got his job from God. He was to save the people from their sins; He was to tell the people to believe on him; and He was to commission others to go where He could not go! It is the father’s responsibility to lead in the home and family. It is also the father’s responsibility to establish what behaviour is acceptable for the children. The father’s will must be clearly communicated and the actions clearly expected of the children.
It was my responsibility to put the trash cans out by the curb and return them to the house once they were empty. We lived on a hill, so it was no easy job. I hated it. The cans were the old Oscar the Grouch metal cans: they were heavy and stank and lots of times were over full. Many times, I would procrastinate, and then my Dad would do it. Eventually, I grew older and stronger, and I learned to do it the best I could without procrastinating. Often, I would try to bring the cans back up to the house before Dad would return home. I knew what he wanted done, and I was going to do it.
When a child has a father that loves and listens to him, he wants to do the will of his father.
John 5:17 says, “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” and John 9:4 says, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” What about you, Fathers? Are you clearly laying out your will and expectations to your family? What about you, Christian? As a child of God are you doing what you are supposed to be doing?
4. Fathers praise their children publicly.
Mark 1:9-11 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Jesus Christ pleased God, and everyone who was there knew it! They heard a voice from heaven declaring it! Tell your kids that you love them and that you are proud of them in front of other people.
Praise them publicly! Once, my sister was playing in the High School Band. Our family went to the concert to hear her and the band perform. They played a very dynamic classical piece and at the end of the song, the auditorium was filled with applause. Just at the end of that applause, my father chimed in with a big shout of AMEN! The whole crowd turned and looked at us. That was my Dad’s way of telling his daughter, “I see you. I hear you. I am proud of you, and I want everyone to know it.” God wasn’t ashamed of his Son Jesus. He praised him publicly around others. When your child does something worthy of praise, then don’t be afraid to publicly acknowledge them. It goes a long way with your children!
5. Fathers discipline their children privately.
Mark 15:29-34 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyeth the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. 33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Did you see that? Verse 33 says, “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” Why did God turn out the lights? He wanted no one to see what was going on.
Jesus Christ wasn’t punished for His sins because He was without sin. He did take all of the world’s sins upon Himself. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21 Jesus was made,”…to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. The wages of sin is death! (Romans 6:23) Somebody has to pay for breaking God’s law. Either you can do it by being locked up in a prison called Hell forever, or Jesus can do it for you. When Christ was on that cross as my substitute, taking my punishment for me, God turned out the lights! He did not want anyone to see what He was going to put His Son through. Why? Because fathers discipline their children privately. I cannot fully understand it all, but I know this one thing: it was so terrible that Jesus Christ cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus cried out, God, you have forsaken (left) me; you turned your back on me! How it is possible, I do not know; but I do know that Jesus knows what it is like to be forsaken by God. This is exactly what will happen to you if you die without Christ and end up in hell: you will be forsaken and forgotten about. Maybe that is why he said in Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Christ understands that kind of punishment. He understands rejections, but He will not forsake us! Once you are saved, you are always saved. God turned out the lights when he punished Christ on the cross for our sins. He did it so that He could discipline His child privately.
I had the privilege of going to kindergarten in my own home because we housed a small Christian school in our basement. School for me was finished by noon, but the first graders had to go all day. One afternoon, I got a hold of some matches and went into the backyard on the backside of the detached garage to play with them. I managed to get a piece of cardboard on fire. About that time, I heard a first grader named Blain come out for recess. When he called my name, I threw down the burning piece of cardboard figuring the wind would blow it out. I ran around the garage, and we started swinging on the swingset. A small time later, our teacher, Mrs. Sands, came running out telling us to get in the house because the garage was on fire. The fire department came in all its glory and put out the fire. Later that day, once my parents had fully investigated the cause, my Dad did what all good dads should do and proceeded to apply the board of knowledge to the seat of understanding. It was a great big ole woopin! I deserved every bit of it. That evening, the police and fire chiefs and a few other members of the city came and sat down at a table with me and threatened to throw me in jail if I ever did something like that again. Their threats didn’t mean much because, privately, I had already experienced the punishment from my dad. I feared him more than them! My dad never told them what he did; he did it privately. And it worked! I didn’t burn down anymore garages. Fathers discipline their children in private. God only disciplines his children. If you don’t get a whoopin from God, you are not one of his!
Hebrews 12:5-7 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Fathers are extremely important. They teach us to love and to listen. Their will is to be followed. They are to praise their children publicly and discipline their children privately. Make sure that you thank your father for raising you. I know there are some who cannot thank their earthly father: then take the time to thank your Heavenly Father for what He has done for you.