The Christian Family…Fathers
Pastor John C. Berg
“He got up and went to this father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, hugged his son and kissed him.
This is your daily devotion for May 4th. Let me tell you a story. Some of you will recognize this immediately, others maybe not. It’s one of the best stories from the Bible, a story told by Jesus. A young men selfishly asked his Father for his inheritance. He left home and wasted the money on, well if this happened today, we would say “sex and drugs.” When he found himself starving to death he returned home to apologize to his father and ask for forgiveness. Jesus said, While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, hugged his son and kissed him.
It's not what he deserved. At the very least this prodigal son had earned a tongue lashing and a probationary period to prove that he deserved to once again be part of the family. And that’s what makes this perhaps the Bible’s greatest story of grace and a best loved picture of who God is. It’s also something else.
We spent two weeks thanking God for the blessings we may sometimes overlook. There are other blessings that we tend to notice and be thankful for more often. Family is one of them. Many of us are getting to spend more time with immediate family and less time with extended family. Today we begin a new series of devotions on the Christian family.
The parable of the prodigal son is also the Bible’s most striking picture of fatherhood. Jesus says the father saw his rebellious son while he was still a long far away. How could that possibly be? What are the chance that this father just happened to be looking in the right direction at just the right moment? Virtually zero. Which means he was doing this all the time, looking at the horizon hoping to see his son so he could and kiss him. So he could not mention his son’s sinful actions at all, but welcome him home with a party.
Fathers, we often find our identity in being the providers for our families. We take seriously the duty of being the disciplinarian so that we don’t raised spoiled, entitled kids. Those are important roles for us. But there is another much more important role we see in Jesus’ parable. It’s the role of grace giver. Our children should see us men of grace and forgiveness. It’s not spoiling a child to respond with hugs and encouragement when he sins, especially if he already has tears in his eyes. He knows he sinned. He needs grace. And when we provide that to our children we’re helping them to also see their Heavenly Father in the same gracious light.
I know men. I know that all too often you have yelled at your children and seen fear in their eyes. I feel the same guilt and shame. Remember that God is your gracious Father too. Run to him. He will welcome with open arms of forgiveness. Amen.
I highly recommend the book “Being Dad: Father as a Picture of God’s Grace” by Scott Keith.