Throughout the pages of scripture, God reveals Himself to us in His Word as our heavenly Father. The Bible tells us that as our perfect Father, God loves us unconditionally, provides for our needs, guides us along life’s journey and will never leave us nor forsake us. These are comforting truths!
When we think about God as our Father, these truths also provide us with some principles to live by as earthly fathers. God has entrusted men with a great responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in their homes and to their families. Even the best of earthly fathers may not fulfill all of these responsibilities perfectly every day, but they are biblical characteristics that we can strive to achieve daily by submitting ourselves to God each day and allowing Him to do this through us by the person and power of His Holy Spirit.
• Godly fathers love their family.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes that husbands should love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That is a love that is selfless and sacrificial. One of the best things a father can do is to love his wife and not be shy about letting their children know. This is a great way to teach your son to love his mom and his wife after they are married.
• Godly fathers lead their family.
In the Old Testament, Joshua made a strong and clear commitment about following God when he declared, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Men must not neglect the calling and responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in the home. Take time to lead your family in Bible reading and prayer.
• Godly fathers provide for their family.
There are many verses in the Bible that point to God as our provider, but perhaps the most famous one is Philippians 4:19 in which Paul writes, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” In the same way that God provides for our physical, spiritual and emotional needs, we should strive to do the same for our families.
• Godly fathers impart wisdom.
We know God’s holy, inspired and inerrant Word is the ultimate source of wisdom and truth. Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to impress God’s truth upon the hearts of our children and instruct them as we rise up, sit at home, travel down the road and lie down (v. 6). Look for ways to impart God’s truth through the daily rhythms of your life.
• Godly fathers provide correction.
Hebrews 12 reminds us that God always disciplines us out of love, and we must strive to do the same with our children. Paul also encourages fathers not to provoke or antagonize our children to anger but to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
• Godly fathers demonstrate forgiveness.
The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 gives us a picture of what the heart of our heavenly Father is like. After the son returns home having squandered much of his father’s wealth, the father runs to him, embraces him, forgives him and restores him to his place in the family.
What a beautiful picture of what God does for us! May we strive to model that picture of forgiveness within our families.
Perhaps you are burdened by guilt because you feel like you have failed your family in these or other areas. Perhaps your own father did not reflect these qualities, and you are suffering from a strained relationship with him. Or perhaps you have lost your earthly father and you are mourning his absence and missing his presence. The beauty of our relationship with God is that He forgives, restores broken relationships and gives us another opportunity to do the right thing.
May we look to our perfect heavenly Father for comfort and strength in order to be a dynamic godly father for the good of our family and the glory of God.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” – Ephesians 6:4 (ESV).