Father Knows Best
Listen to your father, who gave you life. Proverbs 23:22
Father’s Day turns 108 years old this June. What is a “father” nowadays? What do fathers perceive their role to be if they don’t listen to what God designed it to be in Scripture, or seek to grow in understanding that? What responsibilities—much less divine blessings—do they understand come with “fatherhood”? And how do earthly fathers perceive their accountability to the Heavenly Father, even if they may not be listening to what He says?
In a way, we can say that not all fathers are created equal. Yes, all human fathers are equal in that they are sinners, including this writer. But some do take fatherhood more seriously than others.
I know of a father, years ago, who fathered three girls with a woman. But he was a “restless” sort and let alcohol become an important part of his life. When he was sober, he could treat his daughters well, but there were many times when he was a terror to his family—wife and daughters—due to alcohol. It led to a divorce due to the fear of his rage and his unwillingness to work seriously on his “issues.” But then, even after the divorce, when he got the kids on alternating weekends, he would bring them to his house where he had a live-in girlfriend (who didn’t care for his daughters at all) and a smoke-filled environment that kept making one of his daughters sick each time (and dreading to go there). But he really didn’t care. His view of his fatherhood and accountability to God, as such, was shallow, at best. His life really was focused on his worldly wants than on a real relationship with the Heavenly Father and then, by extension, with his daughters.
Growing up in that atmosphere, the daughters wound up having little respect and no love for their father. They knew how he treated their mom. And as for them, he didn’t come to see them in school activities or support them emotionally and spiritually in their growing years. When it came to their graduations, they didn’t invite him. And when it came to a wedding of one of them, she did not want him present at all. He was no father to them—merely a biological source by which they came into being.
There are any number of lessons in this. Perhaps one of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother in a godly manner, and that will translate in loving the very children which they, in physical expressions of love, “made together” by God’s grace and blessing.
The Proverb quoted above comes from several verses that provide godly advice about family relationships. So in providing the advice about “listening to your father,” the proverb assumes that the father to whom it is referring is one who humbles himself before the Heavenly Father and seeks guidance, forgiveness, and righteous compassion—impacted by the Word of the Heavenly Father
throughout Scripture. In other words, the biblical exhortation above, to “Listen to your father,” presumes that your earthly father’s advice, commands, warningsor encouragements are guided by his own devoted listening to the Heavenly Father and then given to his children, who understand from the Bible (which he helps teach them) that he is a representative of that Heavenly Father to them.
Both our earthly and our Heavenly Father have given us life. I like what one author says: “We have a choice. We can merely go through life, or we can have Life go through us.” That second choice is a reference to the life-giver, Jesus, who tells us in the Good Shepherd chapter of the New Testament (John 10): I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. Only in Christ is life “full” and abundant – having meaning, purpose, an eternal vision, confidence, peace, contentment, etc., all in Christ alone. Jesus proclaims to us how the heavenly Father truly “knows best” because He loves us in the best and most perfect manner. That is why Jesus fully did the Father’s will, which included dying for our sins of regrets and weaknesses as earthly fathers (and mothers). The cross clearly shows us that the Heavenly Father knows best; He’s a saving, compassionate Father and was willing to sacrifice His precious Son (who was also fully willing) for our offenses and sins against Him.
Why not speak words of appreciation to your earthly father (and mother) if they are still alive on this earth, particularly expressing your gratitude for them leading you to the Heavenly Father and His dearest Son, your Savior? Give your dad a call. (Or if he is deceased, say one more prayer of thanks to God if he was an ardent Christian father who left you with a vibrant Christian faith and heritage). Even more, rightly and daily express your appreciation to your Heavenly Father (the Father for all fathers)—for which you don’t even need a cell phone. Just open up and start talking to Him from your heart, also asking for guidance in His Word. After all, He knows best!
-Pastor Richard Wm. Lehmann
Peace Ev. Lutheran Church
1550 S. Osborne Ave.
Janesville, WI 53546 5435
(608) 752 0258