June 16-18, 2007
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Pastor Don Sutton
18) Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19) Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21) Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Go back a few decades and other than their biological contribution to the conception of children, dads were not cast in a very positive light and considered unimportant in many.
But in more recent times sociologists, psychologists , educators, ministers and society at large is catching on to the fact that dads play an important role in the spiritual, emotional, educational, relational, physical, social, and vocational development and well-being of children. Recent finding are that when they become adults children with good dads on the average enjoy higher levels of spirituality, do better in school, relate better in families, cope better with challenges, and perform better in work. People who study children and their well-being are even concluding that dads generally as important as moms in the lives of children.
But God knew that from the beginning. That’s why he not only entrusted a lot to moms …God Entrusted a Lot to Dads. On this Father’s Day weekend, let’s think about this – God Entrusted a Lot to Dads. This is why God wants dads to be 1) Christ-like Husbands, and, 2) God-like Dads.
When I was a pastor in Lansing, MI sometimes the Ladies Aid would ask me to do discussion on certain topics, some sensitive. Sometimes my response was, “I won’t touch that with a ten-foot pole.” Maybe I should use the same approach with verse 18. But I’m not saying this. God is.
A) “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” In Ephesians 5:21-24 the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, “21) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. … 22)Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24) Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
The first things we note is that every Christian is to submit to every other Christian and carry out the Christian responsibilities we have to one another. The second thing we note is that God has appointed the husband to be “the head” of the wife. The third thing to note is that the “headship” of the husband is to be like the relationship of Christ and his Church. Christ is the servant-leader. He is a loving shepherd. He is not a cold, harsh tyrant. Therefore, the headship of the man is a leadership role where he is responsible for the well-being of his wife and family. Another thing to note is that the submission of a wife to her husband, is basically to respect the leadership role of her husband. Paul summed up his Ephesians 5 section on husband and wives – “…the wife must respect her husband (v.33).” Still another thing to remember is that this doesn’t make a wife inferior to her husband because she is equally loved by God and equally blessed in Jesus. Still another thing is that a wife is not bound to follow her husband’s lead no matter what. There are times that she will need to assert herself and say “no” when something is not good for the family and therefore, not godly. The final thing to note is that a wife’s respect for her husband as leader is to be in the context of her husband loving her.
B) “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” For a husband to love his wife is more than just feeling romantic toward her. (Don’t get me wrong and think that romance isn’t important in a marriage. A marriage without romance, in my book, is like a hamburger without pickles, ketchup, onions and mustard.) Again there are the words of Paul to the Ephesians outlining how husbands are to love their wives. “25)Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26) to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27) and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28) In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29) After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30) for we are members of his body… 33) However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself…”
The love of a husband toward his wife is to be sacrificial – he should be willing to die for her if need be. He also should be willing to sacrifice himself in other ways if need be to help his wife to be the best Christian woman she can be. This means that he is going to take his leadership role seriously and look out for the welfare of his wife and family. He will consider them and their needs. Even tough he is a man, he will do his best to gently learn how his wife thinks and feels, and take this into consideration before acting or reacting. He will patiently listen and lovingly not try to fix everything except for those things that are appropriate for him to fix. He will gently share with her his feelings. He will show his appreciation for all that she does by his words of thanks and encouragement.
He will do everything he can to avoid being harsh or bitter toward his wife. Even when she takes it upon herself to clean up his workplace or his desk, and she ends up undoing a tried and true system that he’s been used to forever, he won’t loose his cool and chew her out. He won’t yell at her, curse at her or call her unkind names. He will forgive her, encourage her, and love her like Christ loves him. If in a moment of weakness, he fails, dad will confess, ask mom’s forgiveness, and pray for God’s help
This is what God wants of him. This is what his wife needs from him. But this is also what his children should see in him. After all, his sons are going to school on him because he’s their trainer for being a husband. His daughters are going to school on him, because they are taking lessons on what they should look for in a man and how a man should treat them in a dating or marriage relationship. And also, if dad doesn’t respect mom, why should the kids?
You see, God entrusts a lot to dads. Therefore he wants them to be Christ-like dads. But he also wants them to be….
2. God-like Fathers
A) In verse 20 God through Paul talks about the action of children over against their parents. Children are to obey their parents. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” In the 4th Commandment God tells children that they are also to honor their parents. Obedience is to be given so long as children are under the authority of their parents, that is, until they become adults and are on their own. Honor is to be given parents throughout their lifetime and even until the day we children die. This not only pleases parents, it pleases God.
B) But a big help to children in honoring and obeying their parents is when their parents work hard to be godly parents. In respect to dads, a big-help to kids in being good kids is when dad is a God-like Father.
I’m not talking about dad acting like he’s GOD, but trying to exhibit a lot of the characteristics of God.
For example God loves us even though we don’t deserve his love. God is compassionate. God is merciful. He is faithful, gentle, and forgiving. God protects and provides for us. God doesn’t always give us what we want, but what we need. He cares not only for the physical welfare of his children, but also the spiritual. He is concerned not only about time, but also about eternity. He uses tests and trials to help us grow. He doesn’t hesitate to lovingly and appropriately disciple us when need be. To do so is to show love. God is the model Father. God wants dads to strive to be the kind of Father God is to us.
One of the things he warns against is embittering our children. “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Dads can embitter their children on one hand by neglecting them but on the other, by constantly hovering over them. Dad’s can embitter their children by not showing affection with hugs or speaking affectionately with “I Love you’s.” Embittering can result from dads constantly nagging and seldom showing appreciation or giving commendation. A dad can embitter his children by being abusive on one hand and not lovingly, consistently and appropriately disciplining on the other. A dad may eternally embitter his children if he doesn’t teach his children about Jesus and model the importance of Christ in their lives through worship, Bible study, and prayer.
C) As I wrote this sermon I felt a lot of guilt because I could see many failures as a husband and father. Probably most dads here today have recalled failures in being Christ-like husbands and God-like dads. We could easily and justly begin to crucify ourselves. But our Lord Jesus says, “Stop.” Through the apostle Paul he reminds us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Gal. 3:13).” Micah reminds us that as a result of Christ, God has hurled our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7). As Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me…(Matt 27:26)” he suffers the forsakenness we deserve so that we don’t have to. We are now at peace with God. So don’t crucify yourself. Forgive yourself. God has.
D) But then do those things that you need to do be the Christ-like husband and God-like Father God wants you to be. Be into God’s word so that God’s Spirit is in you helping you to be the best Christian man you can be. Pray often like Manoah who prayed for guidance in raising his son (Judges 13). Strive to give your kids what they need.
Our kids need dads to take time for them and show affection in word and dead. They need to have dad help them see their gifts and how they might use them. The need to have dad be a good example in home, in church and in the community. They need dad to teach them basic skills for survival and coping. They need guidance and modeling. They need to have dad to confront them when the go astray and hold them accountable. They need dads to comfort them when they have set-backs.
Dads are important. God has entrusted a lot to dads. God expects dads to work hard and promises to be with them and bless them as they do. Moreover, kids themselves appreciate good dads.
A second grade boy once wrote, “My dad is the best dad ever. He taught me how to make a wooden airplane. It was the best plane ever. We are true pals. I would kiss a pig for him.” That’s appreciation!