Friday 6 November 2020

The Father's Heart

A Father is...

"Timothy, you are like a son to me. What I am telling you to do agrees with the prophecies that were told about you in the past. I want you to remember those prophecies and fight the good fight of faith." - 1 Timothy 1:18 (ERV)

Who is a Son?

Why would Paul call Timothy son? Does it have anything to do with the age difference? Was Paul trying to exert his authority?

The word son used in our text is teknon (pronounced, tek' non). The word son here can be easily replaced with "child or daughter," without losing its meaning. Paul's heart here is that of a father relating in loving affection towards his son or daughter. It is the bleeding heart of a father concerned about the wellbeing of his child.

There is nothing wrong if you call someone father or son within that human understanding and relationship. That truly is what is depicted here in 1 Timothy 1:18, between Paul and Timothy. Paul was old enough to Father Timothy. That is the true meaning of the Greek word “teknon,” used here.

We see it used in the captured last words of Julius Ceasar, "καὶ σύ τέκνον" (Kaì sú, téknon - You too, [my] child) to Brutus. We see the possibilities of this in the relationships between Eli and Samuel, and Elijah and Elisha. Note the age differences.

In the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15:11-32], Jesus depicts to us the heart of a true father.

A Father Empowers:

Firstly, he is one that does not have a domineering spirit. He recognizes the personality of those under him. He does not see his sons and daughters as objects to be used, but rather as vessels to be directed, instructed for the master's (God's) use. The overriding motive being to make the children fulfilled in achieving their God-ordained destiny. This is his joy. In doing this, he recognizes that there is a time to hold children by the hands and a time to let go. [Ephesians 4:12-16]
“A father is a man who expects his children to be as good as he meant to be.” ― Frank A. Clark. 
"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.” ― Jim Valvano
Love recognizes and respects the free will of the children. They are not gathered under the father by force, but instead of their own free will. Hence, the father could let go [Luke 15:12-13], even though he knew better. Father-ship or son-ship requires both parties' willingness for the true blessings of each to flow. 

God is our Model Father

Secondly, a true father sees himself as an extension of the true father of all, God. He tries to be a representation of God to the people under his cover. He recognizes that those under him were simply given as gifts and responsibilities [Psalm 127:3-5, 68:6]. He is simply a steward to the father of all fathers. He does not own the people under him. He is only a caretaker for the Father of all. Being a father is a natural thing, second nature, to him. 
“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.” ― Clarence Budington Kelland 
“Children will not remember you for the material things you gave them but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ― Richard L. Evans
His fatherly heart extends beyond his biological children. It is seen in everything he does. No wonder the prodigal son had a good testimony about the father's servant's welfare [Luke 15:17-19]. He knew his father was not only a father to his children. His father's heart extended to the way he treated his servants. Jesus gives the same testimony of God: 
"If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong." (Matthew 5:45, ERV)
A Father is Gracious

Thirdly, deduced from the above paragraph, a true father is a lover of men. One of the attributes of God is that He is gracious [Exodus 34:6]. To be generous, you have to be one whose heart is broad enough to love everyone, and you are interested in their welfare. A true father is one that loves people enough to put their good above his own. 
“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.” ― Clarence Budington Kelland  
“Words have an awesome impact. The impression made by a father’s voice can set in motion an entire trend of life.” ― Gordon MacDonald
We see that in the prodigal son's father [Luke 15:20], He was able to receive his son back just as he is. He ran to receive him, embraced and kissed him. The father did not care that the son was smelling and ragged. Others would have asked that he had his bath first. Not a true father. He is willing to get into the mud with his children.

A Father is a Believer

Fourthly, a true father believes the best of his children. There was something about the way the prodigal son's father received him.[Luke 15:20-22] He acted like he knew he was going to come back. He was not surprised at the sight of his son from afar off. Other people would have given up on the prodigal son, but not a true father. 
“Children will not remember you for the material things you gave them but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ― Richard L. Evans 
“You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes. Even if it’s just in your own eyes.” ― Walter M. Schirra Sr.
He believed the best of his children. Even when the son was speaking about how unworthy he was, the father was preoccupied with the persuasion of his belief. His vision of his son was coming to pass. God treats us in the same way. His thoughts towards us are "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you future and a hope." [Jeremiah 25:11]

A Father Builds

Fifthly, a true father builds up his children. The word father, as used in the New Testament, is translated from the Greek word pater [pronounced pat' ayr]. It is taken from the root signifying, "a nourisher, protector, upholder." Hence, a father is one that nourishes, protects, and upholds. A father feeds his children. He is not focused on what his children can give to him. They aren't there to feed his ego. He is there to feed their soul and help them overcome in life.
“When one has not had a good father, one must create one.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“If there is any immortality to be had among us human beings, it is certainly only in the love that we leave behind. Fathers like mine don’t ever die.” ― Leo Buscaglia

“As I've mentioned, a large part of my father's legacy is the lesson he taught his sons. He brought us together and said, 'The measure of a man is how well he provides for his children.” “I've learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me.” ― Sydney Poitier
There is a dire need for fathers today. Will God find one in you if you are a man?

© 2003 Akin Akinbodunse

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