Summary: Many fathers in today's world are wasting their opportunities and neglecting their duties. They are prodigal fathers! God is the perfect Father, and human fathers would do well to learn and return to His ways.
The Prodigal Father returning to the Ideal Father
INTRO: The world has set aside June 21st as a day to honor fathers. Of course if you are striving to please God, you will "honor your father" more than just one day a year (Ephesians 6:2). But "Father's Day" is a day on which some individuals choose to express their love and respect for fathers in more outward, tangible ways than they do throughout the rest of the year. Sadly, there are those who have a hard time honoring fathers on Father's Day, or at any other time for that matter. The problem may not totally be their fault. Honor is easier to give to those who deserve it.
In a time when society is full of dead-beat dads, abusive fathers, and men who have largely refused to fulfill their responsibility as spiritual leaders in the home, it shouldn't be surprising that some do find it difficult to honor fathers. A survey done a few years ago asked fathers to name their top 10 fears or concerns. Children did not make the list! No wonder they are not honored in society! Men of God ought to take this as a challenge to improve - to make themselves worthy of the honor that God has said is due them.
The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-13) shows how a son who was wayward eventually come to himself. In spite of the fact that the younger son did come to himself and go back to his father, there was a tragic waste of life and substance. The term PRODIGAL means “a squanderer, a waster, a user of one’s means, reckless extravagance.” Although nothing is said in this parable of a prodigal father, they do exist. They are unlike the father in the parable who is representative of our Heavenly Father. They are fathers who waste their substance and squander their time, influence and opportunities. They sacrifice their glorious position of FATHERHOOD by neglect, and they sacrifice the souls of their children through a lack of Moral Courage, Indifference, and Neglect.
• They do spiritually what the Philistines did physically to their children long ago. “At the noise of the stamping hooves of his strong horses, At the rushing of his chariots, At the rumbling of his wheels, The fathers will not look back for their children, Lacking courage,” (Jeremiah 47:3)
• They are like the fathers of Israel who sacrificed their children to idols (Psalm 106:35-39)
If an ideal father existed, one whom we could all honor and respect, we could use him as a model - an example for other fathers to imitate. Well, such a Father does exist and we should strive to be like Him. He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He deserves honor forever (Philippians 4:20 “Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever”). He is our heavenly Father, and earthly fathers would do well to use Him as a model of the kind of fathers we should be. The Bible recommends it! From Him we learn . . .
I. THE IDEAL FATHER LOVES HIS CHILDREN.
A. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"(1 John 3:1).
1. The "manner" or sort of love the heavenly Father lavishes on us is much more than a cozy, warm feeling. It is a love which has our eternal welfare at heart.
2. "God the Father. . . has loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace" (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
3. It is a sacrificial love! (Romans 5:8)
B. This is the "manner of love" earthly fathers need to have for their children. It is love which "suffers long and is kind . . . does not envy . . . does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
II. THE IDEAL FATHER KNOWS THE NEEDS OF HIS CHILDREN.
A. Jesus said that our heavenly Father "knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." (Matthew 6:8, cf. 6:32).
1. How many earthly fathers are concerned enough, observant enough and communicate enough with their children to know their children's true needs?
2. Prodigal fathers not only do not know what children need before the children ask, they don't know after they ask either because they don't really pay attention.
3. They are too involved in the game on TV, or the newspaper, or some other selfish interest to give their children the time of day.
III. AN IDEAL FATHER PROVIDES FOR THE NEEDS OF HIS CHILDREN.