Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 21, 2009
Becoming a Godly Father
Happy Father’s Day to each of you dads. The idea of a national observance of a day set aside a day to honor fathers soon followed the efforts in the 1900’s to establish a national Mother’s Day. Prior to that, observances of such days were only a church or community events. Mother’s Day received that recognition by joint resolution of Congress on May 9, 1914 with it becoming an annual national observance of the Federal Government in 1915. Over the years, many resolutions were introduced into Congress to recognize Father’s Day in a similar way, but it did not become an official annual Federal holiday until 1972
While it is nice that national attention is given to the importance of honoring mothers and fathers, God’s command to honor parents goes back to the fifth command in the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 20:12) and it is not limited to one day a year. Jesus repeated that command in both Matthew 14:4-6 and Luke 18:20, and Paul repeated it to the church in Ephesians 6:2-3 noting in that it was “the first commandment with a promise that it might be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Fulfilling that commandment may be easy or difficult depending on the character of your father.
This commandment is difficult to fulfill for those of you that did not have a good dad. Some of you do not know your father and grew up without any particular individual taking on that role. Others know who your father is, but he was not part of your home and your relationship with him was sporadic because of that. Then there are those you with a dad or stepfather that was in your home, but he did not fulfill his role as a dad. He was physically present, but mentally and emotionally absent and indifferent to you. Or worse, perhaps you got his attention and it was mostly negative so that you are hard pressed to say whether he actually cared or loved you. It is difficult to honor such a man, but nevertheless, God commands it so you need to do it even if it is only being thankful and honoring him because God used him to bring you into existence and / or provide food and shelter.
The command to honor your father is easy for those who had a dad of good character. While you could easily point out his flaws and idiosyncrasies, you also have no doubt to his love and care for you, for it was demonstrated daily in his sacrifices for your benefit.
This morning I want to talk to you men, both those that are already fathers and those of you who will be fathers in the future, about how you can make sure that your children can joyfully and easily fulfill God’s command to honor you. Even if that has been a difficult duty for you in regards to your father, it can be and should be a delight for your children, and it will be if you are a godly father. The question is then, what is a godly father and how can you be one?
Characteristics of a Godly Father
The following list of the qualities of a godly father is by no means comprehensive, but it is a description of the major and most important characteristics. Most of these characteristics are also general to all Christians, so this message has application to everyone here.
Godliness is the overall characteristic of the man who will make it easy for his children to joyfully honor him. The hallmark of godliness is being controlled by the spirit of God which of course is then demonstrated in the fruit of the Spirit which Galatians 5:22,23 lists as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” A lack of the fruit of the Spirit is almost always accompanied by an increase in some deed of the flesh which includes: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). Keep in mind that this includes your hidden sins, which inevitably are not as hidden as you think and become exposed. Dads, is your life marked by the fruit of the Spirit or by seeking the desires of the flesh?
In Psalm 1 we gain an understanding of godliness by both what he does not do as well as by what he does.
The Godly Man Avoids Evil – Psalm 1:1
The Psalm begins from the negative. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” The godly man enjoys the state of God’s blessing in part because he is not lead away from it by the wicked. It is not enough to hear the counsel of the godly. You also must not receive and walk in the counsel of the wicked. You will be influenced by those who advise you, and the greater their influence the greater you will identify with them even to the point of advising others with what they taught you. That is the descent described in this verse. Dads, be very careful of the advice you receive, who your friends are and what you teach. You cannot be a godly father if these things are wicked.
The Godly Man Seeks God’s Word – Psalm 1:2
The godly man is also blessed because of his priority in knowing and following the Scriptures. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” This kind of delight in the law of the LORD is seen very clearly throughout Psalm 119 and its benefits expressed well in Psalm 19:7-11. The law of the Lord is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true therefore it restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever and is righteous altogether. No wonder it is more desirable than much fine gold and more satisfying that even the drippings of the honeycomb, for it both warns and rewards those who keep its precepts. The godly man will consistently meditate on God’s word in the sense of thinking about it, pondering it and contemplating it so that he can draw nearer to God and apply its truth to his life. Dads, does this mark your life? Can your children understand the scriptures through how you live? If not, then you have some work to do. Pick up your Bible and read, study, memorize, meditate and apply it to your life.
The Godly Man Is Secure and Fruitful – Psalm 1:3
The blessing of the godly man is seen in his security and fruitfulness. “And he will be like a tree [firmly] planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Like an irrigated orchard, the blessed man will still grow, bloom and bear fruit in the dry season. Life can get difficult, but the godly man will still prosper in all the things that have eternal value and he does not need to fret about the needs of this life either. That was Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6:33 that if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, He will take care of the mundane things of this life such as food, shelter and clothing. Dads, what is the source of your security and future? Are you relying on yourself, some other person or on God and His promises?
Psalm 15 gives a further description of the characteristics of the godly. It begins with two rhetorical questions answered by the qualities described in the rest of the Psalm. O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? In short, it is the godly man that can be in the presence of God and serve Him. Of course, only the godly would want to be in such close proximity to God and risk His scrutiny of their every action, thought and motive. The godly desire such correction that they might be more pleasing to God (Psalm 26; Psalm 139:23-24). The ungodly want to stay away from God.
The Godly Man is Marked by Integrity, Righteousness & Truth
Psalm 15:2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.” These are the three major characteristics of the godly man out which the other qualities described flow.
Walking in integrity is the first characteristic of the godly man noted in this Psalm. This word has a broad meaning, but the idea is to be complete in moral conduct. In the building trades, integrity refers to the soundness of the construction. It is strong throughout and has no danger of collapsing. The man that walks with integrity is a person whose character is decent, moral, sincere, honest, honorable, respectable and he will not compromise those qualities. The KJV “uprightly” is a good description. C.H. Spurgeon likened this to a man walking a tight rope. He stands straight up and does not sway in either direction lest he fall. How are you doing in the area of integrity?
Working righteousness is the second major characteristic noted in this Psalm. For the godly man, this is a natural out-growth of walking in integrity. Righteousness differs from integrity in that the standard of righteousness is the holiness of God while the standard of integrity can be the individual or society. Those who would be godly are saved so that they might be holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4). It is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ that His righteousness is imputed to us (Philippians 3:9) so that we have a standing before God that is holy and blameless. This faith is alive because it is put into practice, for as James 2:14-26 explains, genuine faith results in works and “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” Working righteousness is the expected result of faith. Ephesians 2:8-10 further explains that salvation is by grace through faith and that this will result in good works because “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This all part of God’s work in conforming us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) so that our practice of holiness will begin to match our position of righteousness. A man walking with integrity will work righteousness. His conduct demonstrates the reality that he is of blameless character.
Speaking truth from his heart is the third major characteristic of the godly, and since the mouth reveals what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34), what a man says is one of the quickest revelations of his character. However, men can lie and deceive others into thinking they are something that they are not. There are those who have learned to keep the common courtesies of speech and have the ability to say what other people want to hear. The Bible gives many warnings against such flatterers (Psalm 5:9; 12:2; Prov. 26:28; 29:5; Rom. 16:18; Jude16). However, the godly man speaks truth from his heart. His speech is genuine and without deception. He will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and he will also be careful how he says things so that they edify others according to the need of the moment (Ephesians 4:29), but he will also speak the truth regardless of what those listening would like to hear. Most people will quickly compromise the truth to either avoid trouble or manipulate others in order to get what they want. The godly man speaks truth from his heart. Is honesty a quality that marks your character? It needs to be.
These three attributes, walking in integrity, working righteousness and speaking the truth from the heart, lay the foundation for the rest of the qualities of godliness described in this Psalm.
The Godly Man Avoids Sins of Speech and Action – Psalm 15:3
Psalm 15:3 states: “He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend.” Because the godly man speaks truth from his heart, he will not slander others, for that would be taking part in a lie. Slander is not just defaming someone else by telling lies and half truths against them. It also includes character assassination, cheap shots, innuendo, and tearing down others as a way to build yourself up by comparison. The godly father will not do this to others and he will especially avoid it toward his wife and children. How tragic when a man demeans his wife and children. It is sinful, but even from a selfish standpoint it is not a bright idea. His wife is his partner in life and he choose her, so he demeans himself when he demeans her. His children are a refection of him, so he also puts himself down when he does that to them. If his children lack in something, then he is the one that bears the responsibility to help them learn, grow and overcome it.
Because the godly man walks in righteousness, he will not do evil to others, for that would be the very opposite. The demonstration of the man’s character will be seen in what he does. A tree is known to be good or bad by its fruit (Matthew 7:16-20). The same is true of a man. You will know his character by the fruit of his life.
Because the godly man walks in integrity, he will not take up a reproach against a friend. This is not just refusing to join in, but also not “receiving” it either. The godly man refrains from slander himself and will also seek to stop a reproach against his friend. He will call gossip what it is and rebuke the one spreading it. That shows integrity in friendship as well as a pursuit of righteousness and truth. To do less would be dishonorable and disloyal.
The Godly Man Has Moral Discernment – Psalm 15:4
Verse 4 says of him, “In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD.” The godly give honor based on moral attributes whereas the ungodly give honor based on wealth, fame and position of power. A reprobate is someone who pursues evil in preference to good. The term is also translated as “vile” (KJV), “depraved” (DBY), and “rejected” (YLT). Because their conduct is abhorred by our Lord, we have contempt for such people regardless of how rich, famous or powerful they may be, though we still pray for them and seek their salvation. Romans 13:7 directs us to give tax, custom, fear and honor to authorities according to protocol, but even then our respect and esteem are reserved for those who fear the Lord. We cannot violate our own integrity and compromise the truth which would be an act of unrighteousness. You can tell a lot about a man’s character by whom he admires and thinks is worth emulating. Who are your heroes?
The Godly Man Keeps His Promises – Psalm 15:4
The end of verse four says, “He swears to his own hurt, and does not change.” Keeping a promise is the hallmark of integrity, a work of righteousness and an absolute necessity for someone who speaks truth from his heart.
This is not referring to being stubborn in foolish promises such as Jephthah in Judges 9. Foolish vows need to be confessed for what they are, and depending on the specific promise that was made, either seek forgiveness for the actual inability to keep it, or seek grace and mercy from those to whom the promise was made to allow you to back out of it or substitute something else.
The godly man keeps his word even when he personally suffers because of it. A man of integrity remains true his promise even when things turn sour and he knows he will lose on the agreement. A godly man values his word and honor much more than financial gain or personal difficulty. He lives out Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.” Spurgeon said, “the most far-seeing trader may enter into engagements which turn out to be serious losses, but whatever else he loses, if he keeps his honor, his losses will be bearable; if that be lost all is lost.”
Dads, be careful about what you promise your children. It is very easy to promise things without looking at your previous commitments or to over estimate your abilities and promise to do things you cannot actually accomplish. Think before you make a promise and then keep your word to everyone. Your children are watching. What type of character are you demonstrating to them?
The Godly Man Is Not Enticed by Money – Psalm 15:5
“He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.” The Mosaic Law condemned the practice of charging interest (usury) to the poor (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:25-26), yet that command was commonly violated by the ungodly whose hearts were set on money and were gaining wealth at the expense of the poor who only sunk deeper into debt. The godly man was to be an extension of God’s graciousness and mercy and help the poor without seeking personal gain. The godly understand that out of their labor they are to share with those who have need (Ephesians 4:28). That is a work of righteousness.
A man’s character is also revealed by whether he takes a bribe or refuses it. A man whose heart is in the world will give up his integrity in order to gain financially. Bribes corrupt hearts (Ecclesiastes 7:7), pervert justice (Deuteronomy 16:19), and eventually bring the wrath of God (Isaiah 5:23). The godly man refuses all bribes.
Dads, what is your attitude toward money and how is that being demonstrated to your children? Are you generous and merciful toward others? Do you compromise your integrity to gain financially? You cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). Which would your children say that you serve?
The character of a godly man will sustain him so that he will not be shaken (Psalm 15:5). He will be firm in the mist of the storms of life and be strengthened by the testing that comes upon him as long as he continues to walk in integrity, work righteousness and speak truth from his heart. Those are general characteristics of a godly man. There are also some characteristics that are specific to a godly father.
The Godly Father Will Love His Wife – Ephesians 5:25-33
You cannot be a better father than you are a husband for two simple reasons. First, the husband – wife relationship is the priority in a family. In Paul’s discussion of the family in Ephesians 5 & 6, the husband is commanded to love his wife three separate times before anything about children is even mentioned. He is to love his wife in the same self-sacrificial manner as Christ loved the church in giving Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25-27). He is to love his wife as his own body nourishing her and cherishing her as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:28-29). He is to love his wife as he loves himself (Ephesians 5:33). Second, his example of loving his wife is setting the example for his children of both Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:32) and how they should behave when they get married.
Dads, is your love for your wife evident to your children in how you treat her? If it is not marked by thoughtfulness, tenderness, kindness, compassion, patience and self-sacrifice on her behalf, then you have some work to do for that is the example Christ has given us. In addition, it should be obvious that you are committed to her alone. The godly man is a one woman man (1 Timothy 3:2,12). Too many marriages among those who profess to be believers are being shattered because the man has a wondering eye. Proverbs 6:27 warns that you cannot take fire to your bosom and not get burned. Whether that is a real woman or the fantasy world of pornography, you are playing with fire and it will destroy your family. The time to repent of it is now and then have someone hold you accountable. I do that already for several men and would be glad to do that for you as would our other church leaders.
The Godly Father Will Provide for His Household – 1 Tim. 5:8
1 Timothy 5:8 states “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” The context is the care of widows as part of the extended family for which the godly man will take responsibility. A godly father makes sure that the needs of his family, both the generation above as well as below, are met. Keep in mind that needs and desires are two different things. All you need is basic food and covering (1 Timothy 6:8). Anything beyond that is a luxury.
The Godly Father Will Properly Manage His Household
We find in 1 Timothy 3:4,5 that a qualification for an Elder is that he “manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” Deacons likewise must be “good managers of [their] children and their own households” (1 Timothy 3:12). This does not mean that the family is without problems, but it does mean the problems are being addressed and the family is improving over time. Dads, how are you doing at leading and guiding your family in godliness?
The Godly Father Diligently Teaches His Children to Be Godly
Part of the management responsibility of a father is ensuring the children are diligently taught to walk with God. The godly father is to bring up his children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). He is to love God with all his heart, soul and might and diligently teach his children to do the same. This means talking about the nature and attributes of the Lord as well as His commands at every opportunity throughout daily life (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
The Godly Father Is Wise & Teaches His Children to Be Wise
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord and it then expands into the practical application of knowledge to life. That is the main purpose of the book of Proverbs. A godly father prepares his children for life by making sure they learn about the world God has created and how to function in it. That requires both head knowledge and the practical use of it in daily life. By the time the children are ready to leave home, they should be young men and women that will be a blessing to their communities. Dads, are you preparing your children to be adults that can make it on their own and make a positive difference to others?
The Godly Father Will Properly Discipline His Children
Raising children is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work to understand your children and the best way to teach them the lessons they need to learn. Teaching them includes not only instruction and encouragement, but also reproof and correction. Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” Hebrews 12:6-11 expands on this saying “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” The godly father loves his children enough to correct their foolishness through proper discipline (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15). Dads, is your training of your children Biblically balanced? The vast majority of it should be positive instruction and encouragement, but it also has to correct their foolishness.
These are the basic characteristics of a godly father. Any one of them could be expanded on greatly, but my desire today was only to give a sketch of what a godly father is to be like. I fill in the picture with great detail in the parenting class I teach every couple of years. But there is one more thing that must be addressed this morning. How do you become a godly father and develop these character qualities?
Becoming a Godly Father
The only way to become a godly father is to become a godly man, and the only way to become a godly man is to humbly submit to God and live life His way instead of your own. That is the difficulty for most men. Their pride keeps them from becoming Christians to begin with, and then even after salvation it often keeps them from doing things His way. Men who do things according to their own wisdom mess up their own lives and those of others.
To be a godly father you must repent of your pride and follow Christ. As I mentioned last week, James 4:8-10 is a good description of repentance. If you draw near to God, His promise is to draw near to you. To draw near to God you must come to Him poor in Spirit and mourning over your sin (Matthew 5). As James describes it, cleanse your hands, purify your hearts and humble yourself before the Lord. Acknowledge that He is God and you are not and commit yourself to following Him according to His word instead of your own thoughts and emotions.
In reference to your parenting practices, you must recognize that neither the example of parenting you inherited, nor your own thoughts and desires, nor what you could possibly learn in any class even at a university level is superior to or even equal to what the word of God says about being a dad. If you will follow the Lord and develop the characteristics I have spoken about this morning, then you will be the blessing God intended and your children will be able to joyfully honor you. God has not left you to do this all alone. If you are a Christian, He has given you His Spirit to lead, guide and empower you to accomplish His will. He has also given you other believers to help, encourage and hold you accountable. Get involved in the men’s group, a home Bible study or other small group that will challenge you to be a godly man.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many times the words “father” and “dad” are mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about what it means to be a godly man. Honor your dad for what he is doing well.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How easy or difficult is it for you to honor your father? Explain. What is godliness? How would discern whether someone is godly or not? What is the relationship of the three negative statements in Psalm 1:1 and why aren’t they stated in positive terms of what he does? How can you “delight in the law of the Lord”? Describe what it means to meditate on it. What is the result of the actions of a godly man? What is integrity and why is it important? What is the relationship of our faith in Jesus and righteous works? Why is truth so important? What is slander? Why should it be avoided? How can you stop gossip and slander against a friend? What is a reprobate and why should such a person be despised? How can you fulfill Romans 13:7 if the government official is a reprobate? Why is it important to keep your promises? What should you do if you make a foolish promise? What attitude should a Christian have toward money? Why is so important that a man love his wife? What responsibility does a father have in providing for and managing his household? What responsibility does a father have in training the children? How does a man become a godly father? What steps must he make toward that goal? What are its benefits?
Father’s Day – Being a Godly Father – Psalm 1, 15 & Selected Scriptures
It is a __________command to obey for those that did not have a good dad, but a ____ for those that did.
You can make it a _______ for your children to honor you if you are a godly father.
is the overall characteristic of the man who makes it _____for his children to joyfully honor him
The level of godliness is demonstrated by the ____of the Spirit vs. the deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-13)
The Godly Man Avoids ________ – Psalm 1:1
The godly man enjoys God’s ___________ in part because he is not lead away from it by the wicked
The Godly Man Seeks
_________ Word – Psalm 1:2
The godly man finds the word of God more desirable than ____and more satisfying than honey (Psalm 19)
The Godly Man Is Secure and
___________ – Psalm 1:3
Life can become difficult, but the godly man will still __________in all the things that have eternal value.
We are to seek ________God’s kingdom and righteousness and He will care for our needs (Matthew 6:33)
– Who can be in the presence of God and serve Him?
The Godly Man Walks in
____________ – Psalm 15:2
Integrity = complete in moral conduct. Decent, honorable, ______________ , upright
The Godly Man
_________ Righteousness – Psalm 15:2
The Godly Man Speaks
_________ from His Heart – Psalm 15:2
The mouth and deeds __________ what is in the heart (Matthew 12:34)
His speech is without deception; he speaks in _________ ; he speaks to edify others
The Godly Man Avoids Sins of Speech and Action
______includes lying, half truths, character assassination, cheap shots, innuendo, and tearing down others
A godly man will not do _______ to his neighbor for that would be the opposite of working righteousness
A godly man will __________ a reproach against a friend.
The Godly Man Has
___________ Discernment – Psalm 15:4
The godly give honor based on ___________ attributes, not on wealth, fame and position of power
The Godly Man Keeps His
______________ – Psalm 15:4
This is not referring to being stubborn in __________ vows for which there should be repentance
A godly man ______his word and honor much more than financial gain or personal difficulty – Prov. 22:1
The Godly Man Is Not Enticed by
____________ – Psalm 15:5
The godly man does not practice _____and understands he is to share the fruits of his labor with the needy
A godly man will not yield his __________ for financial gain. Bribes corrupt and pervert justice
The Godly Father Will Love His
________ – Ephesians 5:25-33
The husband – wife relationship is the _________in the family. He is commanded three times to love her
His love for his wife is to be an __________of Christ’s love for the church and for his children to follow
The godly man is a _______________ man (1 Timothy 3:2,12) without a wondering eye
The Godly Father Will
_____________ for His Household – 1 Timothy 5:8
The Godly Father Will Properly
____________ His Household – 1 Timothy 3:4-5
The Godly Father Diligently
The Godly Father Is Wise & Teaches His Children to Be
____________ – Proverbs
Children must learn to practically _______knowledge to life so that they can be independent & a blessing
The Godly Father Will Properly
Teaching children involves lots of ________instruction and encouragement, but also reproof & correction
Becoming a Godly Father
__________ of your pride and follow Christ. Follow God’s word in your parenting practices.
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