Father's Day 2023 | Honoring D.A.D.S.
Happy Father's Day! Join Dr. Marty Baker as he honors our D.A.D.S. who bless the world around them by being Doers, Admirers, Deliverers, and Supporters.
I’ve said for years that you can find a sermon illustration in everything. How about a bottle of Dad’s Root Beer? The answer is, Yes. How so? Take the name of the tasty drink and turn it into an acronym. When we do this, the famous drink becomes a spiritual metaphor fathers can learn spiritual truth quite easily.
So, if you are a father today, permit me to say, “Happy Father’s Day.” You deserve a day when your family celebrates you. Why? Because of all your hard work, daily sacrifice, and input into the lives of your family.
You also deserve a day to receive a particular word from the Word of God so you know what constitutes a great father in God’s eyes. Being a father is a tall order, especially in the days we live, so it is always good to get some fine-tuning from the Lord so we can use our position to heighten our impact on our families.
To accomplish this, I invite you to consider the little acronym I’ve constructed based on the word Dad’s. First up is the letter “D.”
James, our Lord’s brother, puts this concept in perspective when he writes:
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does (James 1).
The “if anyone” of verse 23 certainly includes a Christian father. What did James say makes a Christian father an influential father? Verse 22 spells out the answer. He is, more often than not, a “doer of the word,” not a “hearer.” The opening call for you, as a father, to “prove yourself” is a present tense verbal command in the Greek text. It is built on the word ginomai ( Γίνεσθε), which means “to bring into existence.” As Danker notes in his lexicon:
- ‘come into being by birth or natural process’, be born, be produced Mt 21:19; J 8:58; Ro 1:3; 1 Cor 15:37; Gal 4:4. – 2. ‘exist through application of will or effort by an entity’, be made, be performed, be done Mt 11:21f; Lk 14:22; J 1:3; Ac 19:26; 1 Cor 9:15; Eph 5:12. – 3. ‘undergo a state of existence, change, or development’ – a. come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be Mt 1:22 and oft. in the gospels; Ac 1:16, 18 and oft. in Ac; Lk 14:12 (befall ).
Your job as a Christian father is evident. Lead the way in knowing the Word of God and bringing it into your life. Put differently, a maturing Christian father hears the Word, takes stock of his inner and outer life, and then makes necessary course corrections to ensure his life reflects the Lord’s truth, not his. And because it is a present tense command, it means it is not a suggestion from God and is applicable daily.
Does this describe your life as a father? Do you read the Bible and then realize where to apply what you just read? Do you sit in a Bible study and figure out that the Lord is speaking to you about something that needs attention? Do you hear a sermon and feel like the pastor must have called your wife to get the lowdown on how you’ve been acting? When God taps on your shoulder as you are exposed to the Scriptures, and you go out and immediately take radical action to change things, you are the kind of father who brings a smile to God’s face because you are being obedient and because you are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. What more incredible thing could happen to you and your family?
In verse 23, James, being a wise, old saint, pauses and talks briefly about the person who hears the Word and willfully chooses to be disobedient:
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
The word for “doer” in Greek is poietes (ποιητής). In ancient times it denoted a composer bringing a musical piece to fruition. Lexically, it also described a poet who wrote poetry. Either way, the word means doing something, not just sitting around. The word for “hearer” is akroates (ἀκροατής). Interestingly, it referred to an audience. What does an audience do at a play? They merely sit, listen, and then walk out. They don’t produce anything. They enjoy the work everyone on stage has produced. Both words, as used by James, are plural, as denoted by the “ai” endings in the Greek text. Is this significant? Yes. Why? This is a literary device called paronomasia. What is this? Paranomasia occurs when the author employs similar-sounding words to arrest your attention and highlight the words in question. Therefore, John asks fathers a simple question: are you a poietes, a doer, or a akroates, a hearer?
What’s hearer like? He’s like the man who looks at his face in the morning and sees exactly what he looks like and what he needs to do to his face before he heads out. Like the Bible, a mirror shows you where you need to shave, if you need to fine-tune your go-tee, if your sideburns are getting a little gnarly if your part is all jacked up, and so forth. Like the Bible, a mirror can’t make these changes for you. You must make them. A father who is not maturing sees what the mirror of the Word says needs some help, but he willfully opts to shrug his shoulders and leave things the way they are. This, by the way, is not how God wants fathers to live.
In the next verse, James gives us a positive example of how a father spiritually grows up in Christ:
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does (James 1).
The phrase “looks intently” is one word in Greek, parakupsas (παρακύψας). It means to bend over to look long and hard at something purposefully. John uses it to denote what Mary did when she approached the opened tomb of Jesus on resurrection morning (John 20:5). She didn’t just stand in the doorway and casually look in. No. She bent over to consider the implications of the empty grave clothes. Applied to maturing Christians, especially fathers, it means they bend over and take a hard look at the scriptural truths they encounter and then apply the truths revealed to them. When they do this, they grow in the faith and naturally mature in all their relationships, handling conflict, raising children, treating their wives, and so forth.
Which kind of Christian father are you today? Are you a doer or a hearer? If you are a doer, I’d say you know God’s hand of blessing is on your life because you can see it. He has blessed your marriage, how your children respond to your leadership, and how things are going at work, to mention a few key areas. If you are more of a hearer, I think you know right now what to do when you leave this house of worship. You need to draw a line in the sand today and tell the Lord, “Lord, from here on out, I’m going to listen to you, apply what I hear, and watch you deepen my faith and bless my life.”
Next up is the letter “A.”
Show me a man in love with Christ who hears and obeys the Word of God, and I’ll show you a man who profoundly admires and loves his wife. This is true because a man of this spiritual stature hears Paul’s counsel in Ephesians 5, and he applies it to his marriage:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; (Eph. 5).
Paul gives fathers a present tense command here (ἀγαπᾶτε), not a suggestion, and he uses the highest Greek word for love possible. It’s called agape, and it denotes selfless, highly sacrificial love. If a husband and father might not understand Paul’s command, the apostle equates this level of love with Christ’s love for the church. He left the glory of heaven when he didn’t have to and became a suffering servant who willingly laid His holy life down for our sins so we could secure eternal forgiveness at the moment of faith and so the Church could be created. Talk about love. There is no more excellent description of it.
Theodore Hesburgh’s words pragmatically echo Paul’s command here in Ephesians:
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
By so doing, the father gives the children a spiritual model to follow for the rest of their lives. Using his godly example, they will know that true love forgives when wronged, looks for ways to sacrifice so others can succeed, is not easily offended by the actions of others, drips with compassion, speaks in a loving, not cutting fashion, uses wholesome words not vulgar ones, and is not consumed with getting its way all the time (1 Cor. 13:5).
If you are a Christian father today, take stock of your life before God. Does the love you show toward your wife evidence the sacrificial, selfless, jaw-dropping love Jesus has evidenced for you? If so, then your marriage is a light to the world about you. Your marriage shows your children how to build a rock-solid, enjoyable marriage. Your marriage shows others the importance of placing agape love at the center of all you do. It is the hub that keeps the spokes of your marriage in place and working correctly. Additionally, because you show love toward your wife, you build her respect for you. When she respects you, you love her even more, and she, in turn, respects you beyond measure. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs calls this The Energizing Cycle in his book Love & Respect.
If you are on this particular cycle, you know how you got on it as a husband. You love your wife as Jesus loved His Church. That kind of love has radically changed your marriage and has positively impacted your children’s lives.
Not all Christian fathers are, unfortunately, on this cycle. Because they struggle with loving their wives as they should, they are on what Eggerichs calls The Crazy Cycle:
Here is what it looks like. If you are on it, you know it. Life in your house is, well, crazy. Small discussions turn into huge arguments. You are distant, and she is distant, and you can’t understand why. And because things are crazy, the children act up and add to the marital mayhem.
You know, it doesn’t have to be this way. Once you know Jesus as your Savior, and I’m speaking to husbands and fathers right now, the Lord gives you His Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13-14) to assist you in learning how to show agape love toward your wife. Submit to Him today, ask Him to fill you with His power (Eph. 5:18ff), and He will, and when He does, you’ll find yourself on the energizing cycle because you’ll start loving your wife in a Christlike fashion.
I thank God for a Christian father who showed me how to love a wife in how he loved my mother. That model has paid dividends in the last forty-three years of my marriage, and I’m sure it has positively impacted my children’s lives. May the good Lord show you where you can ramp up your love for your wife, and may He give you the strength and will put that love into action today.
The third consonant we need to study is another “D.”
A wise, godly, spiritually maturing father always gives you insight designed to keep you from getting caught in the quicksand of sin. Put differently; he’s full of sagacious advice based on the Word of God. And, no, I’m not talking about Dadisms.
- When I was your age . . .
- Do you think I’m made of money?
- When you pay the rent, you can make the rules.
- Were you raised in a barn?
- Keep your eye on the ball.
I’m sure you know more. I do.
I’m talking about biblical truisms. Where do we find them? Throughout the Bible, you see them in Proverbs, where a father, Solomon, speaks with his son about living before a holy God's all-seeing eye. Here are a few examples of many:
10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. 11 If they say, "Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause; 12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, as those who go down to the pit; 13 We shall find all kinds of precious wealth, We shall fill our houses with spoil; 14 Throw in your lot with us, We shall all have one purse," 15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, 16 For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood (Prov. 1).
Solomon is probably not speaking to a small child here but an adolescent. You know how adolescents are. When they are babies through toddlers, they quickly follow your rules and regulations. Their lives are, for the most part, similar to the cars at Radiator Springs at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. They think they have freedom but, in reality, have a tiny margin of mobility away from their prescribed life course. When they are in preschool through elementary school, their lives resemble the cars at Autotopia, meaning they are still on the track you have set before them, but they have a little more wiggle room to live life as they see it. When they hit adolescence, they are still on a track with parameters. Still, with even more freedom, they discover they can drive fast: morally, spiritually, emotionally, socially, and sexually speaking. Metaphorically, they are more like an Indy Car.
During adolescence, many things occur in sons’ or daughters’ lives:
- They question authority.
- They question what they’ve been taught as true.
- They question responsibility.
- They develop their abstract thinking.
- They think they are more intelligent and wiser than you.
- They strive to be independent but aren’t too jazzed about the negative results of too much independence.
- They wonder to whom they should conform.
I’m sure your fathers know the drill because we’ve all been adolescents. Solomon was no exception as a father.
So what did Solomon do with his adolescent son? He didn’t mince any words. He taught his son what he needed to know about how life works. He shared openly and honestly with him from his raw life experiences, so when his son would exercise his will in various life scenarios, it would be with a will that had God’s wise, holy thinking in mind.
Proverbs 1 is merely a case in point. Solomon opens his book of life wisdom with why you should always be careful who your friends are. Bad friends corrupt good morals. Surround yourself with rebels, with people who flaunt laws, love to do evil things, can’t wait to reject authority, and the like, and you will soon become like them, and it won’t be pleasant. The initial enticement from these kinds of “friends” always sounds exciting and enjoyable, but in the end, the experience they lure you into will leave you bitter and weighed down with guilt. You will also be shocked at how easily they got you to do things you never dreamed you’d do.
Growing up, One of my friends was an excellent baseball player and a physical specimen of an athlete. My father worked with U.S. Customs and was a leader with the Border Patrol, so we knew each other from this familial relationship. I didn’t party as an athlete, but my friend did. I listened to what my father told me about partying, took notes, and acted with restraint. My friend didn’t listen and crashed his car while driving home drunk from a party. It cost him the use of his body. The event did lead him to Christ, and he did become a great witness for Jesus; however, his life choice to party still speaks to me today. A wise father warns his son about the perils of life to help that son secure deliverance from situations that may cost him dearly.
Read through the rest of Proverbs, and you’ll encounter Solomon giving his son wise, honest advice about a whole host of life subjects ((Prov. 3:1; 4:10; 5:1; 6:20; 7:1). May his model continue to be your model for this is how godly, maturing father’s roll with children and teens. And if you need to up your game as a father, then read Proverbs and share what you find with your teens. If you are a teen here today, thank God he has given you a father desirous of keeping you safe and teaching you how to live a truly abundant, exciting life before God.
D stands for “Doer,” A stands for "Admirer", and D stands for "Deliverer". Now there is just one more letter to take a spiritual look at S.
What does this mean? It means a godly, maturing father is behind you all the way. He is your cheerleader in life, the man who spurs you onward and upward, especially in your walk with God. Consider this father who takes cheerleading for his daughter to a whole new stage. When this Air Force officer’s timid daughter made the cheer squad, she didn’t know if she could remember al the moves. Enter dad. He learned all the moves and told her he’d do them with her DURING the games. The man is off the supportive grid. Are you?
Here is a man who loves his daughter so much that he learned all the moves of her cheer squad. Amazing. I’m sure his daughter will never forget this, nor will she ever question how much her father loves her. I bet she doesn’t suffer from low self-esteem, either. How could she with a father like this?
While no biblical verses talk about this concept openly, you do see it in relationships recorded in the Bible. Take, for instance, Paul’s relationship with Timothy. As the older, wiser, more skilled pastor, Paul is similar to Timothy’s spiritual father. Timothy is Paul’s spiritual son in this relationship, learning the pastoral ropes. To read through Paul’s two letters to Timothy is to see a loving father cheering for his son by building him up with sagacious, hope-filled words:
13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all (1 Tim. 4).
This is tantamount to the father saying, “Keep doing, son, what you are doing. You are a gifted young man, so keep playing to the strengths the Lord has entrusted you.”
Here is some more cheerleading support for Timothy from Paul:
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2).
Paul’s encouragement can’t be missed. He knew ministry could be challenging, trying, and draining, so he told Timothy to find his strength, not in himself but in Christ’s grace. I’m sure Timothy knew about suffering for Christ, but Paul reminded him, like a good coach, that trials could cloud one’s thinking. And I’m sure Timothy had raised a few leaders in the church before, but Paul stood behind him to remind him to keep developing quality leaders until Jesus calls him home: “Yes, replace yourself with godly people so Christ’s gospel continues to move onward and upward.” We also know Timothy suffered much by having Paul as a spiritual father. But like a good father, Paul supported his son by reminding him to stay at his post no matter what the Devil hurled at him.
From this beautiful relationship, we learn the utter importance of supporting our children, of cheering for them as they move through all of the tribulations and triumphs of life.
- A wise, godly father shows up to soccer or la cross games and cheers wildly.
- A wise, godly father cheers for you when you get your diploma and acceptance at a coveted college.
- A wise, godly father cheers for you when you make a wise choice about whom you will marry.
- A wise, godly father cheers for you when you turn away from sin and make wiser, more God-honoring choices.
- A wise, godly father cheers for you when you land your first real job after college.
- A wise, godly father cheers for you went you tie the knot with the person you love.
Yes, a wise, godly father supports you by cheering for you. He’s always in your corner. He won’t desert you. He always has your back. He’s always in your life.
I had a father like this, so I know the value of my speech. There could be 500 people in a stadium watching our baseball game, but I could always find my father, and I could always hear my father. His wise, godly life made me the man I am today, and I trust my example has had the same impact on my children. I also pray that you’d be that wise, godly father to your children so their lives can make a significant, lasting impact on this old world for God.
How do you go about being this kind of father? You live out the acronym from Dad’s Rootbeer.
- D stands for Doer...You obey the Word of God.
- A stands for Admirer...You love your wife above all else.
- D stands for Deliverer...You teach your children how to avoid pitfalls.
- S stands for Supporter...You build your children up by cheering for them.
Happy Father’s Day, and may God’s richest blessings be yours.