Topic Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
Three boys were bragging about their fathers. The first said, “My dad writes some words on paper and calls it a lawsuit, and they pay him for it.” The second said, “Yeah, well my dad writes some words on paper and calls it a prescription, and they pay him for it.” The third said, “Well, my dad writes some words on a paper and calls it a sermon. And it takes eight guys to collect all the money!”
Dads need respect. Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, knew it was so. Listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, she thought of her father. He had raised her and her five siblings after their mother died. So she spoke to area ministers and YMCA members, and they began the next year. They selected roses as the flower of the day: red if the father was living, white if he was deceased. Interest grew until President Calvin Coolidge made Father’s Day a national holiday in 1924.
I’m glad there’s a Father’s Day, selfishly and spiritually.
We need to remember what God wants us to give our fathers, on this day and each day. 12,600 miles of ties will be given today. What else do fathers need?
And fathers need to remember why we were blessed by God with this privilege, and how to fulfill it well.
Graduate from Fatherhood 101
Unfortunately, children do not come with owner’s manuals. No Chilton’s car repair books or operating instructions. But their Creator has told us what we need to know to do this job well. Let’s review Fatherhood 101 in the word of God.
Your first responsibility is to lead your family spiritually.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). How did Jesus love us? Unconditionally, selflessly, sacrificially. Love her the same way.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). Serve each other, meet each other’s needs.
Live so that your wife can fulfill her spiritual responsibility as well: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Be the spiritual leader, example, model in your family and home. Live and lead so that they follow Christ because of you.
A survey conducted by the National Study of Youth and Religion has concluded that adolescents raised in religious households are far more likely to admire their parents and live in healthy families than those who are not. So lead your family spiritually.
Next, provide for your family financially.
We are to meet their physical as well as spiritual needs: “…Children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Corinthians 12:14).
Freud said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Provide financial and physical security and stability for your home.
Third, teach your children biblically.
Describing the principles of Scripture, we are commanded to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut 6:7).
We are further instructed, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Do you have a time in your home for Bible study and prayer? A time to teach your children what you know of God’s word? You are their first pastor, their spiritual guide. The church has your kids one percent of their time, the schools 16%; you have them 83% of their time. So teach them biblically.
Fourth, be what you want your children to become.
A godly father “must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect” (1 Timothy 3:4).
It’s been observed that “Till a boy is fifteen he does what his father says; after that he does what his father does.”
Here is Fatherhood 101: lead your family spiritually, provide for them physically, teach them biblically, be what you want them to become. Now, let’s focus on the last principle. How can we be the people we want our children to become? What does it take to be godly fathers?
You’re familiar with New Year’s resolutions. Today I want to offer some Father’s Day resolutions. Eight, in fact. Eight gifts to give our children, and our souls as well.
Adopt these Father’s Day resolutions
Jesus’ familiar beatitudes begin: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
To be “poor in spirit” means to know our need of God, that we cannot live and succeed without his help. It means to admit that he is the I Am and I am the I Am Not.
Our culture stands on self-sufficiency. We can meet our needs if we just put in enough hours, take enough classes, consult enough experts.
God knows better. He knows that our children are eternal souls entrusted to our care. So here’s the first Father’s Day resolution: “I will seek the help of God daily.” Will you make this commitment now?
The second beatitude states, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
The “mourning” to which Jesus refers is primarily spiritual. Mourning for sin, failures, shortcomings before God. It means to admit that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), myself among them.
Our culture stands on self-assurance. We’re good fathers if we provide financially for our families. Pete Rose heard that his daughter had told a reporter he was a terrible father. He responded, “That’s not true. I’m a great father. Why, just the other day I bought her a new Mercedes.”
God knows that our children will become what we are, so that we must spend time every day confessing our sins, staying right with God. Here’s the second Father’s Day resolution: “I will confess my sins daily to God.” Will you start today?
Jesus continues: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
The Greek word translated “meek” meant strength under submission. Biblically it means to be under the control of the Holy Spirit, to obey the command to be “filled [or controlled] by the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Our culture is self-reliant. So long as our finances are healthy, our jobs productive, our health good, our future is secure.
God knows that we do not possess the wisdom, patience, or strength we need, that we must have the Spirit’s power. So here’s our third Father’s Day resolution: “I will submit daily to the control of the Holy Spirit.” Will you make this surrender right now?
The fourth beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
“Righteousness” in Scripture deals with our actions, but also with our motives and our thoughts. God’s word teaches that as we think in our hearts, so we are (Proverbs 23:7, KJV). Moody said your character is what you do when no one is looking.
Our culture judges only our actions. So long as we are righteous in the eyes of our peers, we’re doing all we must.
But God sees our hearts. He knows that our children so often do what we do. So here’s our fourth Father’s Day resolution: “I will think and act by the word of God.” Does anything need to change in your life this morning as a result?
The fifth beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Grace gives what we don’t deserve; mercy does not give what we do deserve.
Our culture knows little of mercy. We are driven by performance, possessions, and perfection. So we drive our children to succeed as we have. Recent periodicals have documented the problem of sports stress, for instance, as parents live vicariously through their children and push them to succeed at all costs.
But God knows that we fail more than we succeed, and that our children need our forgiveness, unconditional love, and mercy. So here’s our fifth Father’s Day resolution: “I will forgive my children when they fail.” As your Father forgives you.
The sixth beatitude promises, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
To be “pure in heart” means to live by God’s single purpose for your life. What is that purpose? To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).
Our culture defines success by how much we own, God’s by how much we give. Our culture measures us by how many people love us; God measures us by how many people we love.
So here’s our sixth Father’s Day resolution: “I will love my Father, my family, and others unconditionally.”
The seventh beatitude states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
A “peacemaker” is one who seeks righteous resolution to conflict, not just the absence of conflict but the presence of justice.
Our culture thrives on competition, victory, success. God wants our families to live in harmony and peace with each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect and love.
So here’s our seventh Father’s Day resolution: “I will teach my children to respect and love each other.”
The last beatitude concludes: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
Living by these principles will cost us. Humility, confession of sin, submission to God, biblical thinking, forgiveness, unconditional love, and mutual respect are not popular values in our culture.
So here’s our last Father’s Day resolution: “I will pay any price to be a man of God.” Our God, and our families, are worth our sacrifice.
We can give our children no greater gift than to be such men of God.
Is your father committed to such resolutions and values? Then thank him. If he is not, pray for him. And whoever he is, give him the gift he most wants to receive.
Chuck Swindoll said it well: “Dad is not perfect; he would be the first to admit it. Nor is he infallible, much to his own disappointment. Nor altogether fair, nor always right. But there’s one thing he is always—he is your dad, the only one you’ll ever have. Take it from me, there’s only one thing he needs on Father’s Day. Plain and simple, he needs to hear you say, ‘Dad, I love you.'” Will you give him this gift today?
And if you’re a father, will you give your children these resolutions from the word of God? Which will you give to them first, today?
A group of botanists hiking in the Alps found a very rare flower. It was growing on a ledge of rock which could be reached only at great peril and with a lifeline. None were experienced climbers, so they found a local shepherd boy and offered him several gold coins to climb down the rope and retrieve the flower.
The boy wanted the money, but feared that the job was too dangerous. He would have to trust strangers to hold his lifeline. Suddenly he had an idea. He left the group, and returned a moment later holding the hand of a much older man. He ran with excitement to the edge of the cliff and said to the botanists, “You can tie the rope under my arms now. I’ll go into the canyon, as long as you let my father hold the rope.”
Whose rope is in your hand today?