Summary: Like Josiah’s sorry sons, we have missed the point of our fathers’ messages about the value of Scripture, the worth of the church, and the meaning of the work ethic.
Why is it that on Mother’s Day we honor our mothers, we talk of saintly moms who worked their fingers to the bone to cook and clean and sew for us? But on Father’s Day we scold the dads! Why is that? Have you noticed? We honor mothers for their industry, their wisdom, their prayer life, and their welcoming presence. And that is as it should be. But then we come to Father’s Day and we scold. We urge fathers to get good jobs, mow the lawn, support the church, and be leaders. We preach at them that they ought to advance higher, earn more money, and watch fewer sports on TV. We scold on Father’s Day. I have preached my share of sermons for faltering fathers, but I am beginning to suspect that if scolding is all we are going to do, we can just keep the ties and socks and the power tools. Fathers deserve better than another shrill and scolding sermon today.
Because the problem may not be in fathers. The problem is in those of us who receive fathers’ messages. The problem is in sons and daughters who have heard what they wanted to hear and have seen what they wanted to see. The issue is not always in what our fathers taught us; the issue is in the way we absorb it. We distort their messages. Do you remember, on the old TV show, how Cliff Huxtable would try to get something across to his kids? “Get out of here and get a job!” But they always heard what they wanted to hear. One of them heard, “Get out of here” and but took off for a year to find herself, courtesy of dad’s credit card. Another got out of here but signed up for graduate school, only to come home every time the apartment refrigerator emptied. They missed the point. Dad spoke; but they didn’t get it. The issue is not necessarily in what fathers tell their children. The issue is in what we sons and daughters see and hear.
I know of one very accomplished father. He had a superstar career. This man had been compelled to go to work at the tender age of nine, but even though you would not think it possible, he showed tremendous promise at that early age. He even took on an ambitious project over the objections of many of the people around him. He was truly a productive youngster.
In the middle of that big project, however, something happened to this young man. I guess you could say he had a conversion experience. He became so sold out for God that he forced everybody around him to re-examine their spiritual lives. He pressed God’s agenda hard. The fellow wasn’t officially a preacher, but he surely did influence a lot of people, and got many of them to turn their lives around.
Why, this man got so sold out for God that he went all around to lead campaigns against immorality. He lived, you see, in a time when children were not cared for, and died at random. A time in which women ran to prostitution, and their customers were plenty. A time in which it seemed as though everything vile and negative was taking over. But this man worked tirelessly to persuade others that what they were doing was not God’s way. Most people respected him. He had a great following and a wonderful reputation with nearly everybody. Nearly everybody, but there were two significant exceptions. His sons. His two sorry sons.