Becoming a father is one of the most transformative events of a man's life. You watch your life transform from being self-focused, to being focused primarily on the needs of other people. With every decision you make, you weigh the kind of impact it will have on your children. You protect. You provide. You mediate disputes. You offer counsel and correction daily. You try to prepare your children to gradually navigate life without your help. And you pray in desperation for the Lord's intervention in the lives of your children.
Many latent instincts get triggered in your mind when the Lord gives you children. The first time I purchased life insurance was once we had kids. If something unforeseen happened to me, I wanted to make sure they could be provided for even after my death. Every day from the moment your kids are born, you begin making both small and large sacrifices together with your wife for the long-term benefit of your children.
I have often said that becoming a father has given me new insight into God's loving and sacrificial heart toward His children. I understand His love a little better than I used to. I identify with His willingness to sacrifice for our benefit more clearly. I have even come to appreciate His willingness to discipline us for our own good in a new way.
Scripture reveals many things to us about God the Father, and today we're going to look at His role, His work, His relationship to us, and how we can reflect His heart as we interact with others.
I. The Father's role in the Trinity
Scripture reveals to us that there is only one God and He exists in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a self-existent triunity that we often refer to as the Trinity. All three persons of the Trinity are equal in nature and live in perfect unity and relationship with each other, but Scripture makes it clear that there are distinct roles among the members of the Trinity and an order of subordination among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Members of the Trinity voluntarily submit to one another. The Holy Spirit submits to the Father and Son, and the Son submits to the Father. This voluntary submission shows us that our God is a God of order while also being the eternal perfection of humility. In the context of the church and in the context of marriage, this is a great example to remember. When Scripture speaks of believers submitting to one another or wives submitting to husbands, keep in mind this is a practice that is first demonstrated in God Himself. God isn't asking us to do something that He doesn't do as well.
Within the Trinity, God the Father operates as the Head. As the Head, He sent God the Son into the world to accomplish our salvation.
John 3:17 - "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
And when the Son returned to Heaven, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to regenerate us, seal us, and teach us.
John 14:25-26 - “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
II. The work the Father is accomplishing
One of the earliest concepts I began observing about my father when I was a child was that he worked. Every day, he went to work at Stange's Market, our family grocery business in Scranton, PA. At night, he would come home tired, sit down on his recliner with a can of Spanish peanuts and a glass of iced tea, and attempt to watch TV while we climbed all over him or tried to box with him. I will never forget how excited I was when he started letting me work at the store at age 5, stocking the shelves and helping out in other ways. He taught me the value of working hard and that's one of the major life-lessons I have attempted to teach my children.
Scripture reveals to us that God the Father has work that He is accomplishing. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, we're told that He is the Creator of all things. Creation finds it's source in Him.
In addition to creating the universe, He also gives revelation to mankind so that we will know Him and His will more fully.
Revelation 1:1a - "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place."
We also know that the Father orchestrated the plan of our salvation.
Ephesians 1:5 - "he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,"
Scripture also reveals other areas in which God the Father is at work. In the Psalms we learn He's the Father to the fatherless and protector of widows (Ps. 68:5). In the Epistle of James we're told that He's the giver of every perfect gift (James 1:17). Paul's second letter to the Corinthians also reveals that the Father is at work as the giver of mercy and comfort to His children (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
All that to say, we have a Heavenly Father who is lovingly and actively at work in our lives. He delights to foster maturity within His children and His watchful eye is always on us.
III. Through Christ, you can call the Father "Abba"
I came across a letter that my wife sent to our extended family at Thanksgiving when our children were very young. Julia, our youngest, was less than a year old at the time, and in the letter, Andrea mentioned that her favorite thing to say was "Dada". For many children, that's one of their earliest words, but there's something extremely special to hear it said when you know that child is referring to you.
In Romans 8:15, the Apostle Paul makes use of the word "Abba" in relation to God the Father. Abba was an Aramaic word that children would often use when speaking of their fathers. In English, the word "Abba" would be translated as "Daddy". It signifies a close, loving, affectionate relationship between a child and his or her father.
Isn't it amazing to consider that through faith in God the Son, Jesus Christ, we're granted this kind of loving relationship with God the Father? When we're in Christ, the Father then sees the Son living within us. We are declared righteous in His sight. He sees us as holy, blameless, and cleansed of sin. Through Christ, we are no longer slaves to the fear of sin, Satan, and death because we've been adopted as sons. The Father has made us His children and we can openly call Him and consider Him our true "Daddy".
Likewise, we can confidently enter into His presence through prayer, knowing that He won't chase us away or reject us.
Hebrews 4:16 - "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
IV. How should I reflect the Father's heart to others?
It's fascinating to try to meditate on or summarize the ways in which our Heavenly Father shows His heart to us. As we've seen, He has created us, rescued us from eternal condemnation, instructed us, disciplined us, comforted us, adopted us and allowed us to call Him "Daddy". As He enables us, should we not also reflect His kind heart to others so that they too might learn to value Him like we do?
Someone once said of godly fathers...
He teaches kindness by being thoughtful and gracious even at home.
He teaches patience by being gentle and understanding over and over.
He teaches honesty by keeping his promises to his family even when it costs.
He teaches courage by living unafraid with faith, in all circumstances.
He teaches justice by being fair and dealing equally with everyone.
He teaches obedience to God’s Word by precept and example as he reads and prays daily with his family.
He teaches love for God and His Church as he takes his family regularly to all the services.
His steps are important because others follow. -Source Unknown, Bible.org
Just as God the Father is lovingly leading us, I believe fathers are given the unique privilege, not just to influence behavior, but to guide and shepherd young hearts. One of the most critical ways you will be able to do that is to start by giving your children your time. If you don't specifically reserve time for them, that time will get away from you. If you fill their schedule with every sport and extra-curricular activity without being selective, that time will get away from you. But if you make a point to be in the same place at the same time, you'll begin to organically find things to talk about, issues to discuss, and influence to share.
Interestingly, some psychologists and authors have noted that the subconscious impression a child has of God the Father is highly influenced by the role of his or her earthly father.
H. Norman Wright said...
Imagine a little girl of seven who has known only rejection and abuse from her father whom she loves dearly. At Sunday School she is taught that God is her heavenly Father. What is her perception of Him going to be? Based on her experience with her natural father, she will see God as an unstable, rejecting, abusing person she cannot trust.
If your father was like a drill sergeant, demanding more and more from you with no expression of satisfaction, or burning with anger with no tolerance for mistakes, you may have cast God in his image. You likely feel that God will not accept you unless you meet His demands, which seem unattainable. This perception may have driven you to become a perfectionist.
If your father was a weakling, and you couldn’t depend on him to help you or defend you, your image of God may be that of a weakling. You may feel that you are unworthy of God’s comfort and support, or that He is unable to help you.
If your father was patient, you are more likely to see God as patient and available for you. You feel that you are worth God’s time and concern. You feel important to God and that He is personally involved in every aspect of your life.
If your father was kind, you probably see God acting kindly and graciously on your behalf. You feel that you are worth God’s help and intervention. You feel God’s love for you deeply and you’re convinced that He wants to relate to you personally. -Always Daddy’s Girl by H. Norman Wright, 1989, Regal Books, pp. 193-195
Give your kids, give your spouse, give your friends, and even give those who think they're your enemies a glimpse of the heart of God the Father by mirroring the kind of intentional love He is actively conveying to you. God the Father loved you enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, so that you can be rescued and redeemed through faith in Him. Let that kind of sacrificial mindset be one of the God-inspired hallmarks of your life.
© John Stange, 2018