Summary: Being a good father or mother is one of life’s most important privileges. But being a father or mother is also one of life’s most difficult responsibilities. It is easy to become a biological father, but hard to become a really good father. Some of you we
Opening illustration: Play a video on imitation.
Introduction: Now in this text of Scripture Paul compares himself to a father of the Corinthian believers. He was not their biological father, but he was a spiritual father to them. He was instrumental in bringing them to faith in Christ. Through Paul’s gospel they were born again. And like a father he loved them, taught them, set an example for them, admonished them, and was even willing to discipline them like a father. So even though this text deals primarily with being a good spiritual parent in terms of witnessing and discipleship, I believe we can glean some good guidelines for parenting our children today. So those of us who are fathers or mothers of children under our care would do well to listen carefully to what Paul has to say here. It is not known whether Paul ever returned to Corinth, but it is likely. In 2 Corinthians 2: 1, Paul writes that he had decided not to make ‘another painful visit,’ implying that he had had a previous painful confrontation with the Corinthian believers. From this passage it is evident that the Corinthians had many tutors but only one spiritual father, Paul.
What are the marks (character) of a godly dad?
1. Mentor to be IMITATED (vs. 14-17)
Paul states clearly that each one of us may have many teachers or tutors but the one who makes the most profound and lasting impact is the father. The Corinthians had many tutors but they could not do what Paul had done; none of them could beget them to life in Jesus Christ. The mark of a spiritual father is that he begets ... he begets. Verse 15, "Though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, you have a lot of teachers, not many fathers. No, for in Christ Jesus I alone have begotten you through the gospel." Paul says I am your spiritual father first of all because I led you to Christ that is begetting. And really that’s where being a spiritual father has to start. A father is somebody who has a child, would you agree to that? You don’t have a child, you’re not a father. You may be a husband, you may be a man, but you’re not a father. But you become a father when you produce an offspring. There are some Christians who are not spiritual fathers. They have never produced a child. They have never begotten anybody in Christ. They have never led anybody to Jesus Christ. They are not a spiritual father. And in a sense, they are a living contradiction to what a Christian is. A Christian is a living thing. And one of the characteristics of a living thing is the ability to do what? To reproduce. And so a Christian should be reproductive. Every believer should be a spiritual father in the metaphorical sense, bringing somebody to Christ. Set an example which must be followed.
Paul says in v.16, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” [Literally, it is “become mimics of me.”] Likewise, Paul said in 1 Cor. 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul lived an exemplary life before other believers, and so he taught by example. In fact, what we see has a greater impact upon us that what we hear. And without a good example, a parent’s teaching cannot be effective. And our children are more likely to follow what we do than what we say. Furthermore, little children learn first by example, then by explanation. Paul not only could say, “Do as I say,” but also, “Do as I do.” This also means that you need to spend time with your children so they can see your example in everyday life. Someone has said, “So live that when your son speaks of you he will stick out his chest instead of his tongue.”
Many of you have had wonderful fathers but still a number of you haven’t and some of you have literally not known who or what a dad is like! Apparently he is the one who sets the example for all in the family. Not that he is an all perfect flawless dad but he is the one whose heart is all out for God and then his family. The matter of setting an example is especially difficult with our children. After all, when we disciple those outside our families, they often see us only in ideal situations, where it is easy to act spiritual and mature. But our children see us in all of our moods, attitudes, and actions. Children have a way of imitating their parents, either for good or for ill.
Illustrations: What kind of an example are you setting? Well what would you do in the following situations -