Celebrating a Different Kind of Father

Father's Day is often a time when we celebrate and honor the life of the man who made the greatest difference in our lives. Some for good, and some for bad. Just the same, God gave fathers the greatest responsibility for leading their families.

In an ideal world, that would mean every father would love the LORD God with all their hearts and with all their soul and with all their mind and with all their strength; and love others better than themselves. But since we live in a fallen world wrecked with sin, this is not the kind of father we all had, or presently have.

Some of us have fathers who either don't know the LORD at all, or profess to know the LORD but their profession is all there is. Some of us weren't raised by Christian father's whose greatest desire was to see their children walking in the Way of the Lord Jesus, who sacrificed his comforts for his family and others, and who lived to love others better than he was ever loved by them.

Christ-honoring fathers are the kinds of fathers that are easy to celebrate and honor every day of our lives. But what if we don't have this kind of father? Are we to slap on a plastic face and lavish our fathers with flattery and speak of them in a way we wished for them to be, but they never were? Are we too ashamed to admit our father's didn't raise us in the loving instruction and discipline of the Lord both in word and deed? And then, rather than remain silent, or speak the truth we can, we lie to them and others in order to join in on this celebration?

And what about wives? Should wives give false praise to husbands whose character doesn't exude the life of Christ? Should we decorate our husbands with accolades that really don't speak to their godly character?

Rather than seem like ungrateful and ungodly children and wives, we spit shine our false image of our fathers and husbands so we can pretend they are the people they really aren't. Us mothers do our children a great disservice when we lie about our husband's non-existent godly behaviors. We need to teach our children how to appreciate what's really there, rather than condone our already saturated world of lies.

So this year, resolve not to purchase your fathers or husbands cards that talk about what fantastically godly men they are if they're not; lest they believe your lies and never aspire to be such. Rather, purchase them cards that honestly speak of your love and prayers for them. If you can't find one, then make one. Truth is always better than fiction.

Neither profaning nor falsely glorifying ungodly fathers and husbands is good. They are both sinful behaviors many participate in, only to preserve their own image of godliness. But there is no sin in godliness; only truth and light.

So how do we celebrate and honor men who are not worthy of honor and celebration? We honor them by being honest, and loving them in truth. Rather than lavish them with false thanks and accolades before friends, family and social media, we ought to thank them for what we truly can and pray for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Celebrating a Different Kind of Mother) .Only through our genuine display of love and prayers can they actually lead their families in the Way of the Lord Jesus in word and deed.

I am grateful to the Lord for my unbelieving earthly father God chose for me. Though many terrible and painful things happened because of this, I am blessed by the countless lessons I've learned about what true, godly love is, and what it isn't.

I am grateful to the Lord for my believing husband who has fathered our sons in the loving instruction and discipline of the Lord. Not having had a godly example, my darling husband has had many bumps in the road (just as I have as a mother). So I don't flatter him to overcome his failings, but I do honor and celebrate his humble heart that's sensitive to the Holy Spirit's call to repentance. My darling husband faithfully strives for holiness by reading and studying God's Word daily and honestly confessing his sins to me and our sons (Jn 3:21); teaching us not to follow him in sin, but to follow him in the ways of the Lord. My husband's heart is much like King David's—stumbles in sin, but quick to repent.

If you're reading this now and feel a bit discouraged because you neither have a father nor a husband who is worthy to be praised, then remember this: if you repent and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have the best, most loving and perfect Father—your Father in Heaven! And there is not one thing our heavenly Father does or says that is not worthy of praise. Even if we praised the LORD for all His goodness to us with every breath we take from here and throughout eternity, it would never match the praise He is due.

"You have multiplied, O LORD my God, Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us; none can compare with You! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told."
~Psalm 40:5 (ESV)