As father’s, we need to be forgiving and we need to demonstrate this to our wives and our children as well. We represent God in the home and we need to be true to the character of God. God has given us what Paul called the "ministry of reconciliation."


The first thing to notice about good fathering is that it starts with being forgiving.

#2) "A" stands for Available"

Look at verses 17 & 18,

"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee." (Notice that he didn’t disrespectfully call him my old man)

I don’t think that he would’ve talked about his father this way unless his father was the kind of a man that made himself available to his sons. It’s as if he knew that if he went back to his father and asked forgiveness, that his father would definitely take him back, even after he had wasted all his inheritance. And that’s how we need to be as fathers. We need to be available when our children need us.

Listen to this sad but true story:

Charles Adams was the United States ambassador to England under Abe Lincoln. Ambassador Adams was in the habit of keeping a daily diary. He also taught his 8-year old son Brooks, to do the same. One day Ambassador Adams took his son Brooks fishing.

As an entry in his journal, Brooks wrote, "Went fishing with my father today, it was the most glorious day of my life." And for the next 40 years, he used that experience to tell people how beautiful life can be.

Ambassador Adams diary showed an entry for that day as well. He wrote, "Went fishing with my son, Brooks. It was a wasted day."

I wonder if this man ever knew just how impacting this day was on his son and I wonder if this man was ever able to focus his heart on somebody other than himself. And I also pray that the son never found out about how the father really felt.

Here is the sad truth. If we are not available and are not there for our children, then something or someone else will be. It may be the television, the video game, the computer, or worse yet friends that we don’t approve of, but something or someone is going to occupy that young persons time. Let’s be available as much as we possible can!

Story:

This sounds like something Yogi Berra would say.

The great 19th-century naturalist and Harvard professor Louis Agassiz was once approached by the emissary of a learned society and invited to address its members. Professor Agassiz declined the invitation, saying that lectures of this kind took up too much time that should be devoted to research and writing. The man persisted, saying that the society was prepared to pay handsomely for the lecture.

"That’s no inducement to me," Agassiz replied, "I can’t afford to waste my time making money."

What is it that makes you unavailable to your children? I can tell you as a father who has two grown children, take the time while you still have it. For the time will come that you won’t have your children under your roof and your chance to influence their lives will for all intents and purposes be over. Do it while you can, be there for them when they are young and moldable.

"F" for forgiving.

"A" for available.

#3) "T" for Tender:

Look at verse 20,

"And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,(which means that he was there tenderly waiting for him to return) and had compassion,( it means that he saw his condition and felt sorry for him) and ran, and fell on his neck,(embraced him around the neck and hugged him) and kissed him."

In our society and in most of the world’s cultures, it is well known that men aren’t supposed to openly display affection and aren’t supposed to cry. Now I don’t know where that came from, but it’s the furthest thing from being Christ like that there is. The Lord Jesus was very affectionate and compassionate and tender.

Definition from Webster’s of Compassion:

A suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. Compassion is a mixed passion, compounded of love and sorrow.

Fathers, show some tenderness and compassion to your family! Don’t try and be so macho that you don’t show some emotion when the appropriate time comes.

Yes we need to be firm with our children when it comes to sin.

Yes we need to make sure that the rules that we have in the home are being obeyed.

And yes we need to make sure that the proper discipline is carried out when the rules are broken.

But, we need to be tender with our families and demonstrate the Love of Christ who was tender and compassionate with us.

Ephesians 4:32,

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

The best illustration that I could give my children was to make sure that they knew that after they had done wrong and broke my heart, that it hurt me to have to carry out Biblical discipline because I loved them. And with tears streaming down my cheeks, I would now have to discipline them, which is also hard when you are not angry anymore. But then I explained how I wouldn’t be a good father if I didn’t do what God commanded me to do. The Bible says that you hate your children if you don’t discipline them properly and with love.

Proverbs 13:24,

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (diligently with a purpose)"

#4) "H" is for Humble:

Look at verses 26-28,

"And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him."

Look at the humility of this father. Jesus was actually comparing the attitude of the elder brother’s jealousy and reluctance to forgive his younger brother to the Pharisees and Scribes attitude toward Publicans and sinners. But what He was trying to get them to see by way of this parable was the father’s longsuffering and humility in how he dealt with both the forgiveness of the younger son and here in verse 28 the humility of the father toward the bitter, jealous older brother.

I don’t know how you would react to the older brother’s temper tantrum, but I believe most of us would tell him to get over it and to straighten up his attitude or be in for an attitude adjustment. But this father didn’t act harshly with the elder brother but shared his heart with him and begged him to come inside and be the brother that he should be.

Just as the Lord Jesus humbled Himself, we need to humble ourselves as well.

In the epistle to the Philippians Paul writes in 2:5-8,

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

We need to be like Christ, our example in humility by His sacrifice on the cross for us.

Which leads me to

#5) "E" is for Example:

Look at verses 29-32 again,

"And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

The father was an example to these brothers of fairness and love in his dealings with both sons. He assured the older brother that everything that he had belonged to him and that he would also like the younger brother get what was coming to him, but he wanted him to see the reason for rejoicing was because someone that was dead and lost was now alive and found!

May God help us to be examples that we need to be for our children in the way that we act and deal with others, because our children our watching us and will imitate that way that we behave. Let’s be like our example Jesus when he said to those at His crucifixion, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." He was our example right to the end.

Story:

Mickey Mantle’s great baseball career ended because of personal blemishes and alcohol. During the last years of his life, he was plagued by the many problems he had in his life and the toll those problems took on him.

In an interview shortly before his death, he said God had given him everything, but he said he had squandered it all. Then, with tears in his eyes, and a voice that trembled, he told the kids to not be like him.

Let’s set the bar high and be the example as Father’s that we should be.

-Forgiving

-Available

-Tender

-Humble

-Example

#6) "R" is for Righteous:

Look at verses 17-21,

"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."

Hearing the confession of the prodigal son tells me that this father had obviously taught his boys to have faith in and believe in God. The son said he had sinned against God, and that shows the father had taught his sons well. And the seeds he had planted in his younger son finally sprouted and started to grow. The son realized his sinfulness and he had enough inner strength to confess his sins and ask forgiveness.

Listen to this sad confession of one father:

"I took my children to school but not to church. I enrolled them in Little League, but not in Sunday school. I showed them how to fish but not to pray. I made the Lord’s Day a holiday, rather than a holy day.

I gave them a color TV, but did not give them a Bible. I handed them the keys to the car but did not teach them about the keys to the kingdom. I taught them how to make a living but failed to teach them who to live for."

The single most important thing that a father could do for his children is to let them see his faith by the way he lives his life. And the single most detrimental thing that a father could do for his children is to let them see him live a life of hypocrisy and double standards.

The best way to help your children become men and women of faith, is to let them see it in you. Father’s, We need to be the best role model’s that we can be. We need to live our lives rightly, or righteously, so that our children can learn to do the same.

In conclusion,

-First, realize there is no perfect father, except our Heavenly Father.

-Secondly, we can all be better dads if we will just do the things we need to do.

-Third we need to realize that our greatest work in life is not building a business, or even a ministry. Your greatest work is building a Christian child. I don’t want to be remembered by my kids for the sermons I write. I want them to remember my heart and how I loved them. I want them to remember the things I did for them and how I taught them, so they can do the same things and teach the same things to their children as well.

There is one thing you need more than anything I have talked about today.

You need to have totally surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. Only when that happens, will your heart start to change. Only when you totally surrender your will to His, will others be able to look at you and see a world of difference. Let’s Pray.