Summary: This sermon addresses how we as earthly fathers should strive to be like God, our heavenly Father.
THE EXAMPLE OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
Text: Matthew 5:48
Dispelling the dangerous myth that all are children of God, Louis Everly wrote: “It is only when we are subject to a common father that we are brothers. To become brothers we have only to become sons again”. (Wayne A. Detzler. New Testament Words In Today’s Language. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986. p. 155).
One of the things that the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) does is to illustrate both willingness as well as resistance to being children of God. Another thing that the parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us is how we can see the role of God in our earthly fathers.
The Bible tells us that those who are Spirit-led (Romans 8:14) are God’s children. The Spirit of sonship liberates us otherwise we would be slaves to fear (Romans 8:15 paraphrased). The Holy Spirit draws us near so that we can we call God our heavenly Father, Abba (Romans 8:15).
THE REPUTATION OF EARTHLY FATHERS
The ideal image …
Almost all fathers would want their children to look at them with respect. The kind of respect that we give to our Heavenly Father has the element of “awe” which is said to be a respect that is tinged with fear. Earthly fathers even like for their children to have “awe” in their respect for good ol’ dad. It is obvious that the “awe” of earthly fathers is limited unlike the “awe” of our Heavenly Father that makes Him truly and “awesome” God!
When a child wants to imitate his or her father, more than likely they want to do so because of the attributes of generosity, strength and authority that they see in their fathers. (Ronald Youngblood. Special – Day Sermons: Outline And Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse, 1989, p. 122).
The cultural reputation …
There are many cultures with ideal fathers such as Jewish, Oriental, Italian and American. “The juvenile crime rate in Italy is among the lowest in the world because the Italian father, however poor or lowly, is respected and obeyed by his children. He also soundly thrashes them when they get into the slightest mischief. A juvenile court judge in New York City some time ago made the statement that in his thirty years on the bench he scarcely had to examine a child of Chinese parentage because every Chinese – American father impresses on his children with the shame involved in dishonoring the family name”. (Youngblood, p. 130).
In most cases, the same can be said about fathers from the Jewish culture. Billy Graham once wrote an article in the newspaper giving advice on how to be the ideal father. He said in the following order: First, Love your children and let them know that you love them. Secondly, Spend time with your children, listening to them, playing with, encouraging and teaching them. Thirdly, be an example to your children by your words and actions.
THE CHARACTER OF EARTHLY FATHERS
All fathers have the duty of providing for the needs of their children. These duties include both the material side as well as the nurturing side. The material side is food, clothing and shelter. The nurturing side is love and discipline. By discipline I mean both instruction as well as correction.