Summary: We honor fathers best by recognizing the critically important work God has given them.
Father’s Day is a strange holiday. Like Mother’s Day, it’s a civil holiday, established by a Resolution of Congress and by an annual Presidential Proclamation. It was first recognized by Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and this year the President once again named June 15th as Father’s Day. So, technically, men, you can thank George Bush for that new LazyBoy recliner.
But unlike Mother’s Day, on Father’s Day no one is really sure what they’re supposed to do. Back on May13th, it was simple. A pretty card with a poem, some flowers, maybe candy, and lunch at a restaurant. Everybody knows the drill. You may improvise a bit with breakfast in bed, or a special gift - maybe a visit to a spa, or hiring a maid service to do the housework. Maybe you have the kids make their own cards, instead of buying them from Hallmark. But the basic elements are pretty standard. Not so with Father’s Day. You don’t really know what’s expected. Flowers are probably out, unless your dad happens to be an avid gardener. A card is OK, but only if it has something masculine on the front, like a picture of men hunting or fishing. Father’s Day gifts usually fall into the category of "it’s the thought that counts" - things like coffee mugs that say, "World’s Greatest Dad," or neckties with little pictures of golf clubs. As for the spa, your dad probably isn’t really interested in getting a manicure, or a pedicure, or a bikini wax. And even when it comes to eating out, you have to be careful. You have to make sure it’s the kind of place your father feels comfortable. The key here is meat and potatoes; nothing fancy. So unless your dad happens to be a gourmet, this is probably not the time to introduce him to sushi, or to try out that new Thai restaurant you’ve been hearing about.
So what do you do to honor your dad on his special day? The way we’re going to answer that question is to look at how God honors fathers, and then follow His example. So how does God honor fathers? Primarily by giving them important work to do, by entrusting them with great responsibilities. God esteems fathers by placing into their hands the precious children that he creates. And so the way for us to show honor to our fathers is by recognizing the tremendous value and importance of the work they do. We honor them as we acknowledge the skill and diligence they exhibit in carrying out their God-given role in the family.
What I’d like to do this morning is examine two of the key responsibilities God has assigned to fathers. By doing that, I hope to deepen our appreciation for our own fathers. I’d also like to encourage those of you who are fathers, to stimulate you to continue striving to be the best dads you can possibly be, by God’s grace and power.
The first responsibility God has given fathers is that of teaching their children. And by teaching, I don’t mean just reading, or math, or geography. Other people can do that. By teaching, I mean imparting wisdom. Developing character. Instilling in your sons and daughters a keen understanding of how the world works, and what people are like, and who God is, and how they can live lives of integrity, and honor, and usefulness, and accomplishment in this world that He created and governs.
The fact that fathers are responsible to cultivate wisdom and understanding in their children can be seen throughout the book of Proverbs, whose purpose is stated right at the beginning:
"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young." - Proverbs 1:1-4 (NIV)
So although all of Scripture is profitable for attaining wisdom and understanding, this book is focused on it. The primary goal of Proverbs is to make its readers wise. But Proverbs isn’t a philosophy textbook. It’s written as a personal dialogue between people. And those people are a father and his children. In the book of Proverbs, we hear king Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, giving instruction and guidance to his sons.
"Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding."
- Proverbs 4:1 (NIV)
"A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke."
- Proverbs 13:1 (NIV)
Fathers are to instruct their children in wisdom. Now of course, this assumes that you have wisdom and understanding yourself, so that you can give them to others. You can’t pass on what you don’t possess. So what do you do if you’re not sure that you’ve got what it takes, wisdom-wise? What do you do if you aren’t yet as wise as Solomon? You do two things: pray and read. You pray, because God promises that those who ask Him for wisdom will receive it. And you read, because the Scriptures are the source of all true wisdom: