Thursday, 19 April 2012

Who’s the daddy?

With Father’s Day approaching (June 17), I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a good father. I can’t draw on the experience with my own dad as, despite his immense potential, he has spectacularly failed as a father figure.

But the Bible gives us a host of fatherly figures to look at. I’ll start with the not so good and lead up to our best inspiration: our Heavenly Father.

The bad and the ugly

  • Noah got hammered and passed out naked, then realising his son Ham had spotted him, cursed Ham’s son Canaan and all his descendents
  • Lot volunteered his daughters to be raped by a mob in a bid to spare his two male guests from the same fate
  • Jephthah killed and burned his innocent daughter having made a foolish vow to God
  • Isaac and Jacob both caused major problems in their families through favouritism
  • Eli, Samuel and David all had problems with their sons because they did not discipline them properly. Eli’s sons both died on the same day as a result of their disobedience and brought judgement on the entire family. Samuel’s took bribes and corrupted justice and David’s son Absalom killed all of his brothers and later tried to overthrow and kill King David himself.


The good
It wasn’t easy to find good father figures, so I just picked one. Although Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, I think he did a number of admirable things. First, he honoured Mary, Jesus’ mother, even though she was pregnant and he wasn’t the father. In The Message it says he was “chagrined but noble”. Second, he went on and married Mary but resisted consummating the marriage until Jesus was born. Third, he listened to God’s warnings and protected his family from Herod’s influence. Fourth, we presume he taught his son the family trade – carpentry – as well as self-discipline and a strong work ethic.

The outright perfect
From the beginning of time, we – God’s children – have made bad decisions and rebelled against his guidelines for life. Unlike Eli, Samuel and David, though, God disciplines us carefully; not to hurt or humiliate us, but to allow us to become more mature, reliable, honest and committed. Like Joseph, he protects us, is patient with us, and gives us the knowledge we need to live full and fulfilling lives.

God knows how to give us powerful gifts in a way that no earthly father could. That’s because he knows our every thought, dream and, most importantly, what is good for us. Added to this, the Bible says He will never, ever leave or forsake us – something many of us struggle to believe because our own fathers have let us down.

While God totally allows us to make our own choices, He has also come up with a plan for when we make the wrong ones. By sacrificing His own perfect son, Jesus, He allowed us to become part of his family – children of God and co-heirs with Christ; the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8).

Over to us
So what does a good earthly father look like? Well, first he should love God and honour his own father and mother. Second, he should love his children as Jesus did, welcoming them with open arms whether it’s convenient or not and reassuring them he will always be there for them.

Third, he should patiently discipline his kids so that they will avoid future heartache and train them well so that they stay on the right track (Proverbs 22:6). And dads should also have fun with their kids; laying work and other concerns aside to make time to spend time and laugh with their children – whether they are in nappies or all grown up!

Read more from Joy in the next issue of Sorted magazine - it's a Father's Day special! Buy your bumper pack today and get 50 copies for just £50!

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