God's Message for Husbands and Fathers--"Lead!"
O Lord God, “Our dear Father in heaven,” we come before You this day with humility and gratitude. You have blessed us in so many ways, placing us within our respective families, while at the same time adopting us by faith in Your Son, Jesus, into Your own family. May we ever prove faithful to You—hearing Your Word, believing Your truths, applying Your will, approaching Your throne, and enjoying Your blessing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This Psalm expresses the blessings of the LORD upon men who are both husbands and fathers—men who fear the LORD and walk in His ways!
In this Gospel reading a father’s faith is rewarded, while Jesus’ power as the Son of God is revealed as He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead!
“For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23)
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
“One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.” (1 Timothy 3:4)
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
In Christ Jesus, who has given fathers a vital role within Christian families, dear fellow redeemed:
The words that I have just read are not popular within our culture. In fact, many people, with little understanding of their actual meaning, quickly claim to be offended by them. Even many Christians, bowing to the winds of political correctness, shy away from thoughts such as the husband being the “head of the wife,” or men “ruling” their houses, or of wives being compared to “weaker vessels.” But, my dear Christian friends, we can ill afford to do so, for to turn away from the truths of God has devastating consequences for society and for individual souls.
Consider just some of the following statistics taken from a recent “Men Against Domestic Violence Survey” dealing with the effects of fatherless homes: 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, 71% of all high school dropouts, 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers, 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions, 85% of all youths in prison, 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger, and 90% of homeless and runaway children all come from fatherless homes.
Now I realize that statistics can and are at times misused, but one thing ought to be perfectly clear from these statistics—fathers are important! Fathers, especially Christians father grounded in the truths of God’s Word, can and do make a tremendous difference in the lives of their wives and their children. Let us, therefore, review some of those truths today as we consider GOD’S MESSAGE FOR HUSBANDS AND FATHERS—“LEAD!” Godly leadership is absolutely essential for the maintenance of the Christian family and for the stability of society.
As we see in the first of our selected verses, you are to lead for God has made you the head of your family! The apostle Paul states, “The husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” Dear friends, the headship principle of Scripture is not a mere suggestion, nor is it optional. It is simply a fact, for it is the order God has established. It is based upon the roles God assigned men and women at creation and is illustrated by the relationship of Jesus Christ with His Church. At the time of creation God created Adam first and then created Eve as a “helper comparable” to him (cf. Genesis 2:18). The headship principle does not speak to the relative value of men and women, but rather to their roles as men and women. Men and women are equal in value, for both Adam and Eve were created in God’s perfect image, but their roles were to be different as they together were to have dominion over the earth (cf. Genesis 1:27-28). Adam was to lead, while Eve was to support.
Now what idea does the illustration of Jesus’ relationship with His church add to our consideration? The Bible tells us that Jesus is “the Head of the church”—His believers, and as such, He leads them in the ways they should go. He is also “the Savior of the body”—again His believers. As such Jesus’ leadership always results in blessing and benefit for He loves His believing followers so much.
Therefore, the challenge of every Christian husband and father is to lead like Jesus. To do that we must follow in the path Jesus would have us go. Our decisions and our actions should always have as their goal the blessing and benefit of our wives and children. This will seldom be easy. We may feel very inadequate in this role. We may question whether we know enough, or we may not feel confident enough, or we may at times feel like complete failures, but this does not change the fact that God has made you the head of your family! Therefore, GOD’S MESSAGE FOR HUSBANDS AND FATHERS is “LEAD!”
As you lead, recognize this truth that God calls upon you to love as Christ loved! Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” The most important characteristic of godly leadership is love—not merely a love of sentimental feelings, but a love of understanding and purpose. Godly leadership sees a need, determines a course of action, and then pursues that course of action with purpose. Does this mean that husbands and fathers will never be emotional? Of course not! Jesus, who is the example of such loving leadership, was very emotional at times in His ministry. He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, for instance, and wept at Lazarus’ tomb when He saw the terrible effects of death upon His friends. But Jesus’ love understood the need for mankind’s redemption from sin, Satan, death, and hell, and He was determined to fulfill the course of action necessary for that redemption, even to the point of giving up His life on the cross.
In the same way, Christian husbands and fathers are to lead with such understanding and purpose. Husbands—strive to understand the needs of your wives…not just her physical needs, but her emotional and spiritual needs as well, and then determine and fulfill a course of action to meet those needs. Fathers—understand that your children need you…not just the food you put on the table, but your time, your interest, your guidance, and your affection. Be ready to make the self-sacrifices necessary to meet their needs!
I am sure that everyone here today has heard of the pop musician Michael Jackson and perhaps is aware of the troubles he has faced. Those people, who know Michael’s background best, assert that many of his problems are the result of poor father/son relationship. As a child star Michael’s father dealt with him as a manager—not a father. As an adult Michael later broke down emotionally while addressing an audience at Oxford University about a children’s charity and upon composing himself explained that all he had ever wanted as a child was to hear his father say he loved him. Husbands and fathers--make that emotional connection with your wives and children even as you lead them with understanding and purpose. Yes, GOD’S MESSAGE FOR HUSBANDS AND FATHERS is “LEAD!” For God calls upon you to love as Christ loved!
God wants you to bring up your children in His Word! Paul writes, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” To what is Paul referring when he urges father “not to provoke (their) children to wrath” and when he speaks of “the training and admonition of the Lord”? Paul is calling upon fathers to bring up their children in His Word—in the simply truths of the law and gospel. He is calling for considered and consistent discipline based upon the law, but also to bring their children to know and love Jesus, their loving Savior. Parents—fathers and mothers—must consider the temperament, the needs, and the age of children as they plan their child-rearing. They must reveal love and affection, but also be consistent in both the rules and the requirements they establish. Discipline should not be overly harsh, yet it ought never become too lax. Children understand that godly discipline reveals genuine love, and proper rules and requirements establish proper boundaries and lead to a sense of underlying security.
Where are parents to find proper rules and requirements for child-rearing? God reveals His will within His Word through His law. As a simple summary we use the Ten Commandments given to Moses. We are to teach our children to give their hearts and loyalty to the Lord alone, to honor His name, and to gladly hear and learn His truths. We are to teach our children to honor those in authority, to protect the life of others, to respect marriage, the property, and good name of others, and to keep our hearts pure and free from covetous desire. This we are to do both by word and example. It does little good to tell our sons and daughters to honor God in their lives, if we do not choose to do so in ours. It does little good to tell our children to put the needs of others before their own, when we fail to take the time to help others. But even more important than that, when they fail we are to lead them to their Savior. At the feet of Jesus alone will they hear comforting words of forgiveness! It is through the Spirit’s use of the gospel message that their heavenly Father really does love them even though they will not always “get it right” that they will find the encouragement to keep on going! In this very important area of child-rearingGOD’S MESSAGE FOR HUSBANDS AND FATHERS is “LEAD!” Lead by example applying both the law and the gospel, for God wants you to bring up your children in His Word!
Finally, let us recognize that God gives you guidelines and goals for your leadership! When writing Timothy Paul commends the “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.” The world cries out, “Chauvinism,” but let us seek to understand Paul’s meaning and intentions. To “rule” here means literally “to stand in front of.” To “rule” does not mean to control, to get one’s own way, to be self-serving. Rather, the idea is one of being out front—to lead with the idea of both providing for and protecting those being led. Therefore, these are your guidelines, husbands and fathers—lead your wives and children… provide for their needs, protect them from harm. Take an active role in setting the tone of your family life. Make it positive, have fun with your family, seek to meet their best interests, and you will have children who gladly listen to and follow your advice as they are led to thank God for your efforts!
The apostle Peter writes, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them (your wives) with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Note the apostle’s guidelines and goals—husbands we are to strive to understand our wives…not all women…but our wives. We are to honor them by what we say and do. They ought to know by what we say and do that we view them as a great gift from God! We are to give honor to them as we would “a weaker vessel.” That is not an insult, but rather provides a picture of the tender care with which husbands are urged to treat their wives. Think of the most expensive and fragile piece of china in your home. How do you handle it? How do you train your children to handle it? Do you slap the good dishes around? Do you let the children roll grandmother’s antique vase around on the floor? Of course not! No, you treat them with the respect and care they deserve as something that is precious.
Notice the goal Peter gives—husbands are to recognize that their wives are “heirs together of the grace of life.” Husbands and fathers are to recognize in their wives and their children the precious objects of God’s grace in Christ. Gentlemen—Jesus died for our wives and children! Our wives and children, as well as all of us, are destined by God to spend eternity with Him in heaven. That is our goal, and that is why the spiritual welfare of our wives and children must take a prominent place in our leadership efforts. If we provide our family the biggest home, the best food, the most fashionable clothing, the most expensive transportation, and the finest education, but then lead them to hell, we will have accomplished nothing at all and we will have much for which to answer God for our unfaithfulness…yes, our unfaithfulness! We are to lead our wives and children to the Lord first, and then trust that He will enable us to provide everything else that is needed!
Before closing, I would like to share with you three final thoughts: Gentlemen—what I have said today may cause many of us a good deal of pain, for we know that we have certainly not fulfilled God’s call for godly leadership perfectly and, in fact, may at times have failed miserably. Our God knows this, but He still loves us. He assures us “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20b). He reminds us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Yes, we fall, but our dear Lord picks us up and will give us the strength necessary to fulfill that which He has called us to do! So, for the rest of today—lead! Tomorrow—lead! Tuesday—lead! Next week, next year, for the rest of your lives—lead!
Ladies—when I mentioned this sermon topic to the Bible Study Group at Gus Johnson Plaza this past Thursday morning, one woman asked, “But, Pastor, what do you do when a man doesn’t lead?” That is a tough question to answer, for there can be many reasons—too many to deal with effectively in only a few minutes, but here are a few suggestions: 1) Examine how you are fulfilling your role as your husband’s helper. Are there things you are saying or doing, which either prevent him from leading or dampen his enthusiasm for leadership? If so, address those issues first. 2) Pray for your husband regularly and ask God to reveal to him the need for and importance of his leadership in your family. 3) Approach your husband about this matter, acknowledging with thankfulness the contributions he is making to your marriage and family but expressing your desire for his leadership. 4) Be your husband’s biggest cheer-leader. Recognize his accomplishments, praise his efforts, and express your confidence that he will reach the goals both he and God have established. Men bask in the praise of their wives, and it is part of the “respect” that God urges wives to give their husbands (cf. Ephesians 5:33b).
Members of Immanuel—in spite of our best efforts our families will suffer from the results of sin in our world. For a variety of reasons there will always be mothers raising their children without fathers, and fathers raising their children without mothers. This can be and often is very challenging. It is important that we as a congregation strive to help these fathers and mothers—when they need help—in raising their children in the Lord. Let us continue to provide opportunities for Christian education through our school and Sunday School. Let us reach out to all of our children through our various youth groups and activities. Let us keep all of our families in our prayers, so that everyone will know and enjoy the love, the strength, and the hope that comes with a close relationship with our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. In this world, we will never achieve perfection, but with the help and blessing of God much good can be accomplished if only we cling to the truths of our God and thereby enjoy His blessing. Husbands and fathers—GOD’S MESSAGE TO YOU THIS DAY IS “LEAD!” Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting