Summary: God is very interested in men becoming good fathers. Here in this passage we find some of the leading characteristics of a successful father.
ILLUSTRATION: (From "It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It" by Robert Fulghum) It was Molly’s, age 7, job to pack the lunches for her family. She would put in the sandwiches, cookies, fruit and so on in a paper bag. One day, in addition to the paper bag she usually packed for her father, she gave him a second bag - enclosed by duct tape, staples, and paper clips. The dad, in a hurry to get to work didn’t have time to ask what was inside, quickly thanked her, gave her a kiss and took both bags with him to work. At lunch time, as he was eating his lunch, he remembered his daughter’s gift and brought it out. Since it proved too difficult to open any other way, he tore it open on the side, and out spilled these objects:
2 hair ribbons
3 small stones
1 plastic dinosaur
A pencil stub
A tiny seashell
2 animal crackers
A used lipstick
A small doll
2 chocolate kisses
& 13 pennies
Unsure of what she meant by this gift, he smiled to himself and thought "how quaint." Then realizing the lateness of the hour, he hurriedly swept his desk clean, including the "gifts," and put them in the wastebasket. He did this, he noted later, "because there was nothing in there that I needed." That night, as he sat in his easy chair, his daughter approached him and asked, "where is my bag?" "Your bag?" he asked uneasily. Yes my bag of treasures I gave you this morning. I thought you might like to play with them." "Oh, that bag. Well, it’s still at the office." "I want it back," she said. "Those things are very important to me." "Of course, honey. I’ll get it for your tomorrow." "Oh, and daddy, there’s something I forgot to put in your bag," and she handed him a note. Unfolding the paper he read "Daddy, I love you."
Slipping out to his car, he drove hurriedly to his office and frantically checked his wastebasket and found to his relief that it had not been emptied yet. Quickly, he dumped its contents onto his desk and sorted thru them for the "treasures." Just then the janitor came in and, asked, "did you lose something." "Yes," he replied, "I think I’ve lost my mind." The next day, at home, he asked his daughter to explain the meaning of the items in the bag and patiently listened as she explained each item in detail, how they each meant something special to her, a special event, or something he had given to her.
Paul, writing to the Thessalonian church, notes that the congregation in Thessalonica was renowned for its powerful witness and its reputation as a strong church. Part of the reason for their reputation is revealed here in 2:10-12 = Paul, Silas, and Timothy had exemplified for the Thessalonians what a father ought to be.
The church whose men are strong father figures, not just in their own families, that church can be a mighty force for God.
I. God considers the role of fathers so significant, he built his church around it.
Romans 8:13-17 tells us:
"For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, <"Abba,> Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
ILLUSTRATION: A man (true story from prayer seminar) related how he had always had a very uneasy relationship with God. He always pictured God as a stern unpleasant figure who was perpetually displeased with him. One day, while shaving, he felt a prompting to visualize what he felt about God. And in his mind’s eye, he saw a majestic man seated on an imposing throne, robed in white and with a stern look in his eyes. As if in a dream a scene unfolded before him. As he watched in wonder, the seated figure rose from His throne and came down to him and wrapped His arms around him and held him close. That one vision changed his entire prayer life and helped him to realize how much God really loved him as a Father.
II. God considers this image of fathers important that he models his leadership after it.