In this special Father’s Day sermon, Pastor Babij examines Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 as a model for spiritual fathers raising up spiritual sons. Pastor Babij identifies four vital characteristics of a spiritual father’s responsibility to both teach and model godliness for his children:
1. A Spiritual Father’s Work (v. 9)
2. A Spiritual Father’s Walk (v. 10)
3. A Spiritual Father’s Words (v. 11)
4. A Spiritual Father’s Worship (v. 12)
There is one who will make the deepest impression upon our hearts and our souls, and that person is the father, whether good or bad. The apostle Paul uses a word in 1 Corinthians 4:15 to bring forth of a similar thought, as in Thessalonians, where he says:
For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers,
Now what he meant there – a tutor was someone who led a boy, a trusted attendant who would supervise the conduct and the morals of a boy as the boy grew up and became of age. That person would be a guardian, a trainer, and an instructor. So the apostle Paul was saying there may be many of those, but you’re going to only have one spiritual father. So the apostle moves from the physical realm to the spiritual realm, in which he explains when one hears the gospel and comes into the spiritual realm, when the gospel is preached, it begets spiritual children.
We’re not born as Christians. We’re born as sinners under God’s judgment and somewhere down the line the gospel comes to us. Either you hear it and believe it or you hear it and reject it. Those who hear it and believe it, they now come into the spiritual realm and now the gospel beget spiritual children. In this case, Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians and some became believers. And in turn, he became their spiritual father. He led them to the Lord, and he became their spiritual father. That’s why he writes Corinthians, and that’s why he writes Thessalonians, because he wants his spiritual children in Christ to grow up and understand what God wants them to do. He wants them to understand – how does God want you to live now that you’re one of His children. That’s why he writes these epistles, for that reason.
So a child’s most important teachers are their parents, but a boy’s most important teacher is his dad. And one of a father’s chief responsibilities is to instruct and inspire his son to true manhood. True Christian manhood’s goal for a spiritual father is that their son and their children may become imitators of God and learn how to please God, learn how to live before His eyes.
So this morning on this Lord’s day, I want to glean from Scripture four vital characteristics of a spiritual father’s responsibilities. Now I know that we have about six women that are pregnant right now in our church. Some are having girls and some are having boys, and eventually they may have a boy. I’m specifically looking at a boy today because of the time in which we live. Of course this message could be to children, the responsibility of a spiritual father to all his children, whether it be a boy or a girl. But here today, I want to focus in on the male part of a person in the sense that there are going to be boys that are born and those boys need to know how to become a man. Scripture really addresses some of those particular responsibilities.
So before I go any further, let’s have a word of prayer. This morning Lord, I pray that You would use me as we go through Scripture. I pray Lord, that we would see in Scripture those responsibilities that a spiritual father has, those who claim to know You as their Lord and Savior and Lord, that they have a responsibility to their children and the father has a responsibility to his son. I pray Lord, that these responsibilities can be learned, should be learned, and then should be put into practice. And Lord, even if we didn’t know these before, teach us them again if we do know them and if we don’t know them. Embed them upon our heart and our mind, that we can recognize them when we put them into practice. And I pray that You would raise up men who are going to be men in our society, men even who are going to be spiritual father someday, who are going to meet a woman and marry her. He is going to have much influence upon his children, and I pray it would be one that would honor You and that he would teach them to be imitators of God and to obey God every day of their lives. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.
So this morning, back to 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. Here’s the first responsibility, and it’s found in a spiritual father’s work. That means that the first responsibility of a spiritual father is to teach his son, his children, the benefit of work. Now if you look at the text in verse 9 at what it says. It says:
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaim to you the gospel of God.
So labor emphasizes the kind of work and hardship, its intensity, that he is taking the course of self-denial in order to minister to the recipients, to those who are listening to him, to those who he is an example before. Between his preaching, he would be found working, and he would be found working with his hands so that he would not be a burden to the Thessalonians. The apostle Paul, we know, was a rabbi actually. Paul was highly educated. He learned a trade of making tents of goat’s hair cloth. In those days, in orthodox Jewish families, it was the responsibility of the father to teach his son the law which is the word of God, to circumcise him, hence being obedient to the law, and then to teach him a trade so that if necessary, he could earn a living in an honorable way. So that’s why Paul here is a tentmaker. He actually can make tents out of leather and made other things out of leather. In other words, so he wouldn’t have to steal. So he wouldn’t have to mooch off of people as to be a burden to them. His daily toil at tent-making helped him to pay his own expenses.
So here we see a willingness to give up leisure, to give a pleasure, to give up even his own rights as an apostle for the spiritual welfare of others, especially those he’s going to impressed with the gospel. Not only hearing the gospel, but this is how you live the gospel. The impression that he makes would be one of working hard with his hands so he would not want any money at all from those who are listening to him. In other words, a spiritual father teaches his son the benefit of hard work. Not just mental work, but physical labor. He needs to steer a son away from economic carelessness, self-centeredness, and of course laziness.
So a real man knows how to hold a job. They know how to handle money with responsibility. They know how to care for needs with the goal in mind that someday they’ll have a wife, and they’ll be able to take care of her and the family. A failure to develop economic maturity mean that young man often floats around from job to job and takes years to find himself. I don’t know who I am, and I think our society confuses that process even more today. People don’t know who they are and they’re questioned as to who they are. For a young man, he needs to know who he is and he needs to know, as his father teaches him, what career he would be good at, what vocation he’s going to settle down in so he could labor with his hands and make money to pay his responsibilities and help others.
So a boy must be taught how to work, how to save, how to invest, how to spend money with care, and he must be taught to respect labor and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work, to be able to step back and look at his work and say – wow, I was able to do that, a job well done, and to be able to earn a dollar honestly, where he didn’t have to go begging people for it or even begging his parents for money because he was not resourceful enough. That doesn’t mean that those times don’t happen where you help your kids out. You help your kids out a lot in life and that’s what we’re supposed to do, but not apart from their own responsibility, not apart from them learning how to take care of themselves because you may not be there. The Lord may take you out. You may live far away. You may not be able to be there all the time. So these principles and this responsibility needs to be taught to his son while he is young and developing. And spending too much time being entertained behind a computer screen may severely handicapped his maturity into manhood and abnormally extend his adolescence. Not learning early in life if you really want something, if you really want something of value, you must what work for it, right? You must work for it. It says actually in 2 Thessalonians, Paul continued on with this subject because obviously there was a problem in the Thessalonian culture that he was addressing. He says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10:
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.
If you don’t work, then why would you expect to eat? An essential reason for working include having money to pay for your basic necessities – that’s food, clothing, and shelter, but also not being a burden to someone else. That’s what he’s saying in the text – listen, work so you’re not a burden. Work so you don’t have to depend on anyone else, but maybe people may be able to depend on you because you are responsible. In fact, again in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 it says:
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day as to not be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed the gospel of God.
And then he again repeats it in the second epistle of Thessalonians chapter 3 verse 8, where he says:
not nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working day and night so that we would not be a burden to any of you;
so that was Paul’s goal. I would like to say to those who are here and those were listening on livestream: young ladies, when you are looking for a man to marry some time in the future, you should look for a man who has ambition and who has industry in his veins, meaning that he’s a diligent worker. He’s not a lazy person. Because that laziness, if it’s seen in an older person as they get ready to leave the home and go out, if it’s not there by then, then that’s not going to be a good formula for someone getting married where now the wife has to take responsibility for the husband. That’s not the way it oughta be. In fact, it says in Proverbs – Proverbs is the wisdom literature of Scripture. It tells us that:
Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes riches.
And then Proverbs 6:6:
Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.
Meaning the ant is a very busy creature. If you ever watch ants or ant hill, they’re like moving all the time, right? They’re busy and they’re preparing for the end of things. They are preparing for after summer when winter comes and they’ll have all their provisions. So the ant is a good person to go to. In fact, in the old testament in the book of Ecclesiastes, it’s tells us this in chapter 2 verses 24 and 25:
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.
God has given labor as a gift to us. It’s not a curse. It’s a gift. And then in verse 25:
For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?
So God is the one who’s given this ability to us and we should use it wisely. A spiritual father teaches his son how to work hard and make a living and be able to take care of himself.
So that means that getting involved with others in a way in which we deny ourselves as spiritual fathers for the sake of getting the gospel to our children and then teaching them how to live the Christian life. So being a hard worker gets people’s attention. I don’t know how many times when I talk to somebody who owns a business and what they tell me is that that person over there, I don’t want to see that person leave because that person is such a hard worker and that person makes me money, plus he’s trustworthy or she’s trustworthy and I can do what I need to do and leave them alone and they do their work whether I’m there or not. See, that goes a long way. But a person who lives like that, if they’re a believer and they work for somebody who is not a believer, they are in a position to be able to tell somebody the gospel and because of their work ethic, people listen to them. Because if you work like that, then what you say, I must take into consideration.
That’s why he says this in verse 9, where he says that I wasn’t a burden to you. For what reason? We proclaim to you the gospel of God, so you would listen to our words. we wouldn’t be mooching off you and begging from you, and then we’re going to preach the gospel to you? You’re not going to listen to us. But if you’re a hard worker, wait a minute, I’m going to listen to that person because there’s something in their character that draws me to them. See, a spiritual father not only needs to be that first, but he needs to teach his kids that. He needs to teach his son that. So that’s the first thing, a spiritual father’s work.
Secondly in our text, a spiritual father’s walk. That means the second responsibility of a spiritual father is to teach his son, his children how to walk before the eyes of God. Now this become extremely important. Look at verse 10 of chapter 2. It says:
You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
You see what it’s saying there. Having people to be a witness of the way you live is one thing, but did you notice it says in this passage God is also a witness to the way you live. In other words, you teach your children, you teach your son not how to live before people first. You teach your son how to live before God. You don’t have to worry about people. You’ll live the right way and people will notice, whether they agree with you or not. They will notice something in your character that is very attractive. Like it says in Proverbs, it’s like a son who has a a garland of wreath around his head, that there’s something that’s attractive about that person because of their character. He’s saying to them: listen, here’s a vital characteristic to be generously holy, both outwardly and inwardly, toward men and also toward God. Holiness does not consist of a patch of emotions and feelings or a state of mind that never manifest itself in the conduct of one’s life. It can be seen and it can be witnessed. It can be seen and it can be witnessed.
So teach them. Teach them to live, that they live before their parents’ eyes. They live before their teachers. And most importantly, they live before the eyes of God. Biblical holiness always has reference to God and man, can’t separate the two. Now, God looks and sees all the thoughts and actions of men. In fact, there’s a passage of Scripture, actually one that is well known, in the Old Testament in Psalm 139:1-5. In that chapter, it gives a sense of what God sees about men, about people. This is what it says:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.
Now that’s Scripture there is really showing us how God knows everything that is going on. If I’m going to live before the eyes of God, I also have to know who God is and how much God knows. Yes, God even knows what I’m going to say before I say it. God knows my character inside and out. He scrutinizes me and you. If I can teach my son, my children that when they’re young, then they will develop before God a healthy fear, a healthy fear for who God is in His character. They will also develop a listening ear, to be able to listen to what God says when God speaks.
When we remain aware of the fact that God sees all, then self-examination becomes continual and it becomes serious. We are not content with a shotty life. We want to live a holy life, a God-like life, a life that pleases God. To live devoutly is to live to honor God, and to live uprightly is to live conformed to the will of God. The result will be to be blameless – be blameless before who? Be blameless before God first and then before people.
The two-fold witness in Scripture becomes a significant point of discernment for all who minister to people without being people pleasers. You don’t see anything about being people pleasers in the Scripture. You see things about being God pleasers, because that’s the most important thing. People should be able to witness the same thing God is witnessing in your behavior. That’s the goal. The reason for this motivation is so that the person is fully aware that God is a witness to daily behavior. They would be fully aware that their behavior has an impact on those who are looking on each day. That is looking for an example, looking for a human pattern to follow concerning a holy and godly behavior. What God and people are witnessing is in plain view and it is made clear in Scripture. That means that a person is not a fake, that they are the same in private as they are in public before the eyes of God and before people. They’re consistent and they’re regular about who they are. That’s what the Lord wants us to be, and that’s what spiritual father’s responsibility is to teach that. Of course, he has to do that first himself.
The Bible actually gives us three adverbs and three participles. If you notice in our text, the three adverbs are in chapter 2 verse 10. He says:
You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly
That’s the first one. And then uprightly.
And then of course the last one is that of being blameless, how blameless we were.
The word devoutly means that they were devout to behave a certain way. It’s a positive term pointing to a degree of manner of. In this case, the manner of conduct which is pleasing to God and thus includes a direction of one’s life that is separated from selfishness and from a continual pattern of sin.
Second word He uses is uprightly. This is also a positive term. It is used to get a sense of the manner of their life, that it is a life that is devoted to the kind of conduct that comes to a standard of what is right and what is just, and it relates to the performance of a person’s duty in daily life. Simply put, living uprightly is doing what God defines as just and good. Now for one example to give you, if you turn over to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, you’ll find in that text. What is simply living uprightly and doing what God defines as just and good or moral correctness? It’s really doing God’s will. So that means the father knows what God’s will is and he teaches his son what God’s will is. well what is God’s will? In 1 Thessalonians 4:
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
In other words, in this passage of Scripture, to live uprightly is to know the will of God to be able to put it into practice. An example where a spiritual father is to teach his son so that his son develops properly into a man is in the area of sexual maturity. As a boy becomes aware of the sexual power God has put within him, a father needs to help this young man understand how God has designed that power and then how to properly use that power. Now young men live in an age saturated today with a distorted view of sexuality, of morality, in which they’re bombarded with sexual stimulation. Everywhere you turn, there is sexual stimulation by all kinds of means. So young men need to understand the dangers of lust and to avoid the things that feed it. Therefore, avoiding pornography, avoiding any form and all forms of fornication, of sexual promiscuity, and of corruption. And why is that? Because you and him and your children, you’re teaching them to live before the eyes of God who knows what’s going on in the heart. Because he lives before the eyes of God, he is accountable to God for his stewardship of this great gift. And it is a gift, that God has given this gift and they are to respect it, protect it until within the context of holy marriage. They are able to fulfill this gift. So male sexuality separated from the context and integrity of marriage is explosive and it is a dangerous reality and leads to all kinds of confusion, guilt, and disease. And not only that, but it dishonors the Lord. It dishonors the Lord.
Now, this is not an uncommon thing in Scripture. This is also repeated in other places like in Hebrews 13:4, where it says there:
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
See again, Scripture is directing us and directing us as parents and fathers to their sons that they live before God, even in this area. Yeah, God knows about the power of the sexual desire. He knows that it also can be kept under cap until marriage, if God has given you the blessing to be married. Some people want to not be married and be celibate and they’re fine with that. That also to them would be a gift. But there is nothing good sexually except in marriage. Anything outside of marriage is abomination to the Lord. Of course, you’re not going to hear that anywhere else except in the church that they’re preaching the Bible because it’s all over the Scripture. So a boy must be taught to discipline their sexual energies into anticipation of marriage. I’m waiting for that day. I’m waiting for the day that I am going to be able to be responsible for myself to take on a wife and then take on a family.
That is why you and I as the spiritual fathers is so important because your manner of life, my matter of life, needs to be witnessed by my son and your sons and your children. Your voice and God’s voice needs to be louder than their friends’ voices and more penetrating upon their consciences than their compadres. Now because friends, “friends”, compadres i’m calling them, will come and say to them: let’s go have some fun. Let’s go find a thrill. Let’s get some adventure and some excitement in our life. Well, the book of Proverbs which teaches wisdom says this to the young man. Proverbs 1:10-11 says:
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
For a young man not to consent when adventure is in a young man’s blood. We all want to have adventure. We all want to do something exciting at least once in our life, right? But it doesn’t have to be sinful. It doesn’t have to go against what is upright behavior and good behavior. For the Scripture continues to say:
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause;
Do not consent. Don’t listen to their foolishness. Listen to wisdom. And that’s the conflict that we have all the time, even as believers, is that we have the struggle between the flesh and the spirit, the struggle between the world and what God says in the word of God. The world says go this way, that your friends and family say go this way, and God says, no go this way. So we have to make that decision – are we going to honor God or we going to do what our fleshly desires want us to do.
Why does something fun and adventurous have to be sinful or illegal or immoral? It doesn’t have to be. That’s the point. There’s many things that you and I or our children could be involved with that is not sinful, doesn’t lead to sinfulness. It doesn’t even lead others to sin. Not that sin isn’t pleasurable, because the Scripture tells us that it is pleasurable. But it also tells us something more that your compadres almost always never consider. That is pleasure is short-lived. It comes often with damaging consequences. At times, the consequences are long-lasting and sometimes even fatal. I don’t know about you, but I have done some things that when I look back at it, it was so stupid and foolish. I think that the only way that I got rescue from that is God had His hand upon me. Because other people got hurt doing it and some people even lose their lives by doing foolish things.
All we have to do is to look at our own hearts. We need only to review our own course of life. The companions that we hung out with and spent time with. Some of your friends had bad influences upon you, didn’t they? They challenged your uprightness to do what is exciting but sinful. Just remember, every bit of unhappiness, of disappointment, of failure in our life is a result of sin. Everything. So either our own sand or someone else’s sin or the existence of sin in the world at large or combination of all of those things.
So getting back, fathers are to teach their children to live with the thought in mind that everything matters. Everything we do matters. So we are to teach them to fear God, and why are we teaching to fear God? There’s really two reasons. First because no one else will. It takes no highly brilliant person to figure out the fear of God is pretty much missing in our society, and it is missing in popular theology, which really refers to God usually as a casual best friend or cozy chum that I can hang out with. They see God who is nothing better to them than someone who smiles upon humanity, endorsing their daydreams and their self-centered pursuits. That is not who God is. Fear in Scripture means there’s a sense of terror that goes with that. It’s also fear, that there was a sense of awe and reverence before God. So wisdom cannot be had until one has a healthy fear of God almighty. I’m not defining fear just as awe and reverence. This kind of fear, that comes second in order. The first kind of fear is a matter of fear in the sense of terror.
Secondly, what is the second reason why I teach my children to fear God? It’s because God is a consuming fire. Because all things will come into judgment under His watchful eye. Yes, to teach our children that God is good and He is merciful and He is kind and He is full of lovingkindness and compassion, but He will in no wise let the guilty go unpunished. Now if at this very moment, I asked a lion tamer to bring up a cage with his lion in it. I were to ask you to get up and get into the cage along with the lion with the door closed behind you, would you do it? No, you wouldn’t. I can answer it for you. I wouldn’t do it either. I would suspect that none, unless someone is completely insane, would go into the cage alone with this magnificently powerful creature. Now why is that? Is it first because you respect him or is it first because you are downright frightened to death of him? I think it’s that, and I believe it is the latter which in turn causes you to keep a healthy distance from the animal and from the creature and then of course, then you have a healthy respect. So sinful man must have a terror for God as he comes to an awareness that God’s displeasure is going to be over a person who is a sinner and His judgment will be upon them. God’s wrath hangs over his head and the fear of impending judgement frightens his heart. So fear is something that Jesus taught His disciples too. In Luke 12:4, what did Jesus say to His disciples? He says:
I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warned you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
Jesus told His disciples to fear God because God has the power to inflict ultimate punishment on sin. A spiritual father is teaching his children, his son that sin has consequences. Why? Because they live before the eyes of God. To fear God is to be moved by what God says and to be afraid enough to care what He says.
It’s quite interesting in the passage of Scripture I just read in Luke, it does not tell us to fear health. It doesn’t say fear losing health. It doesn’t say fear losing wealth. It doesn’t say fear great powerful men. It doesn’t say fear growing old. It doesn’t even say fear death. You know what it says? Fear God! That’s who you ought to fear. In our society, people fear everything but God.
So fathers, teach your sons that real joy and liberty without boundaries and accountability leads to disaster. It says in Ecclesiastes 11:9:
Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes.
He says to a young man – follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. But this is what he adds:
Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.
Wait, that changes things, right? That changes what I’m going to do. That changes how I’m going to act. Get this – during childhood or let’s say from the spanking stage, you’re teaching your kids what? Rules. You teach your kids yes and no, right? Don’t touch this. Don’t go there. Don’t do that. You’re warning them. You’re teaching them by your voice. You’re teaching them that you’re the authority, not the little demon in diapers. You’re the authority, and so they should listen to your voice. In fact, the fifth Commandment – obey your parents. Why is it in the middle of the Commandments? Because the parents act as God to their children until they can pass on that authority to the children when they realize that they are responsible before an almighty God.
So as a young man or young children grow, what what do you do? You move through the training stage. You’re setting boundaries for them. You’re setting rules for them. You’re showing them what is good and what is bad, what is God’s way, what is every other way. Happy pleasure is really related very closely with obedience. If you want your parents to enjoy you, obey them. Of course, as you obey God and they obey you and they all obey together, that’s where happiness and pleasure rises up, doing what is right. When your kids get older and they do what’s right, doesn’t it make you as a parent feel good? You say: man, did I have anything to do with that? I don’t know, but you point them in the right direction. You gave them something. You didn’t give them everything. You gave them something. You gave them something that’s going to benefit their life. They know the difference between good and evil, between what pleases God and what doesn’t. And that’s the best thing you can give them. Not wealth. Not things. That’s what you need to give them because that’s going to benefit them no matter how long they live and where they go in the world, whether you’re there or not.
When Scripture writes follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes, it means liberty and freedom, but liberty without boundaries is dangerous. It will actually be a joy robber and a guilt producer, but it should be a liberty and freedom acquired while knowing God who will bring everything into judgment because God is not only a God of judgment, He’s a God of mercy. He is a God of grace.
The great temptation for young people is to say this – that I’m young. I want to enjoy my life. I want to have fun. There’s no real rush to live for God. Then when I’m older, I’ll start thinking about God and religion. See, that type of thinking really has two flaws to it. The first flaw is that somehow life can be enjoyed apart from God and His standards for living. It cannot. And secondly, that living for God is only important for older people and it is not a requirement for the youth. That is also untrue. So you can either believe lies or believe the truth. And the point Scripture makes is come to know God when you’re young and serve Him and enjoy Him throughout your life. Then when old age comes, you’ll be glad you lived for God. Waiting for old age may be too late because all mental and physical opportunities could have diminished forever. See we have to think like this – God exists. He is the creator. And since God is the Creator, He is also the Judge. And if God is the Judge, there will be a final judgement. And since there will be a final judgement, everything we do, what we think about God, and how we live, it all matters. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says:
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
In other words, someday people will stand before God. You can’t live any old way and you’ll what you want and get away with it and think that God is going to pat you on the head and say: everything’s alright sonny. Everything’s just going to be fine. It’s not. Though life is but a fleeting breath, life is not insignificant and it’s not futile. So the bottom line is: life without the Lord is pathetic. It’s a hollow drag. You see, unless one connects with the living God through faith in Jesus Christ, life is reduced to an empty existence. Then, a responsibility of a spiritual father is to lead his children to the Lord, to let him know that this is the most significant manly thing that I can do. It’s not a childish thing. It’s not a weak thing. It’s the strongest thing I can do – is lead you to the Lord and cause you and teach you how to live before God.
Now that brings me to the last one there, and that is that a spiritual father is someone who teaches his son to live blamelessly. See that’s the third adverb. That is a life characterized by godly habits. It is being up-to-date on confession before God and apologies to others. So do you see the degree of attainment in their behavior, that Paul and his missionaries that are coming to teach the Thessalonians are teaching them to live before a watching God and live before an observing world. Christians never should think that you live in a vacuum – you do not. But you live before a watching God and a watching church and a watching world. The epistle of Titus put forth the same thought like this in Titus 2:12:
instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age,
Whatever age you’re born, live right now as lights in the world. Live as salt of the earth. Live it right now. Now you would expect it to follow that if Paul lived this way, then he would demonstrate the strength of a loving father, not only being a living example for his children to follow but also someone who comes along them to exhort them, to encourage them, to implore them for his spiritual children towards godly living. That’s exactly what he does. He comes to the third responsibility. A spiritual father’s third responsibility is his words, how he speaks. He wants to direct his son with his words. Look at what it says in verse 11.
He uses three words. He exhorts them. Quickly, you know what that is? That’s a teaching language, exhorting someone, teaching them how to do things. No, that’s not the way I do it; this is the way I do it.
Then he uses a second word – encouraging. That word means to gently implore someone. You may have to direct them a bit. They get off course. Get them back on, and you do that with your words. A spiritual father knows how to use his words to be able at the right time. I don’t know about you, but as your kids get older, you can’t talk to them, like you can’t lecture them. In other words, you have to be creative, right? You have to talk to them differently. You have to try to convince them of your opinion without telling them what it is, right? I sat on the couch many hours doing that, to try to figure out how I’m going to say this in a way that I’m not preaching, I’m not lecturing, but they’ll get it. So it takes a while.
The third word he uses here is the word imploring. That’s a stronger word. It is a stronger language. It’s a word used actually in other places in Scripture for somebody who finds it difficult to live life, the Christian life, especially in the face of opposition. So a father comes alongside his son or his children and he uses stronger language that is pressing on their conscience. The word means to bring forth a witness and includes serious words, possibly to one who is slacking in what they know is the right way to live. So he knows how to use all three words.
Then it leads to the last one this morning – a spiritual father’s worship. There’s a goal that Paul has. There’s a goal spiritual fathers have. Look at verse 12. What’s the goal?
so that you would walk in a manner worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
See that’s the goal. It’s the Greek word that means to move about, to just live your life and go here and there. In the figurative sense, it signifies the whole round of an individual’s life. It means to conduct yourself and your behavior in a worldly manner. The goal of a spiritual father to his children is that they walk worthy of God, to walk a walk that is in conformity with holiness and the character of God in whom they put their trust. Remember, this is never a perfect life. It’s never the perfection of your life. It’s always the direction of your life. I’m going to live a holy life imperfectly. Someday, I’ll have a perfect body in resurrection, but now it’s not going to be perfect. But it’s going to be what God is pleased with. So here before us is the highest standard of lifestyle given for the Christian walk. Even though Christian should always appreciate the wonder of God’s lovingkindness because we will fall in our walk, more than we would like. But knowing the character of God, His love for His children will not grow less when that happens.
But here the truth that you and I must get our hands around and our heart around is our great God must be served with all our powers. Nothing less should be offered to Him who gave His son for us. Then all that we have and all that we are. His is not only the goal of a spiritual father. It is the goal of our heavenly Father. Ephesians tells us that we were elected to salvation before the foundation of the world – for what reason? That we should be holy and blameless before Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; that you should be holy and blameless before Him, complete without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is held out to believers the incentive to live worthy, to live here and now that way. Not wait for that, but live it now today. You have been saved according to Scripture by a wonderful God, a merciful God, a God of grace, a God who died in your place so you can have eternal life and be forgiven of sins. You have been brought into His kingdom and that’s what we look forward to. For all Christians, We face the glorious future no matter what happens in this world. It’s not going to change God’s plan.
In other words, he is saying to them as a spiritual father – live here and now in a manner worthy of such a high calling as a Christian. As a Christian, you can’t go any higher than that. You are God’s children. That means you’re born into royalty. As God’s children, God says go out in the world and live as royal children. Live as children of God.
So every Christian needs to realize that walk and talk are inextricably linked together, that life and faith cannot be separated. The character of our lives impacts our ability to share the gospel effectively. That’s always the goal – to live this way so you can tell someone else of the God you serve and how to be saved to be made right with Him. So both the truth of our words and their implications are known by the way we live. This passage reminds us again that the power of our words can be multiplied if only the character of our lives is consistent with the gospel.
In concluding, spiritual fathers, this is our mandate. Pass the baton to your son, to your children as they see your work, as they witness how you walk, as they listen to your voice and hear your words, and as they observe your regular growing worship to the true and living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the greatest impact any man could have on his son and his children – is to pass that kind of baton. Then they’ll know how to walk out of that door and go to college and go work somewhere in the world and go from you and they’ll not forget those things. Even when they fall on their face, they’ll get up and say: that’s not the right way to live. That didn’t work. I’m going to go back to what I was taught, because I lived before God and before people and I want to be a witness in this world until Christ comes or He takes me. See, that is the greatest gift that we can give our children.
So I prayed this day that all who are listening, including myself, that we would put these things into practice. As we put these things into practice and our kids grow, we would see as they grow these things bear fruit and then we give glory to God and say thank you Lord. Thank you that my child loves You. They’re not perfect, but thank you Lord that my child wants to do what’s right. Thank You for that and we give You glory. So we have to be that first before we can be an influence on someone else.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You again for Your great love to us. Thank you Lord, for the incredible impact of the word of God. It is penetrating to our heart. It exposes sin, but it also directs us in a way that we can know what Your will is. We could know what You want, and that your Spirit gives us the strength and the word of God gives us the information to be able to inform our hearts on how to live in a right way before You. Make us those kind of people. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.