|Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017||
Today is a special day as we honor our fathers for all that they have done for us. Fathers have so many roles to play. In most families, the father is the primary “breadwinner” in the family. Because he is masculine, he does things that most youngsters want to copy; he is strong, so he excels in sports and athletics, and what young offspring doesn’t like to play ball, go fishing, etc.? A father normally knows about mechanical, electrical and electronic things, so by his expertise, he impresses his children. Being a father is a wonderful experience. Being a good father is an even greater joy. However, being a Christian father who honors God by the way he lives and cares for his family is the greatest joy of all. In order to be the best father possible, a man only has to look to God’s Word for the guidance he needs.
After all, in that Word, we read of the most wonderful Father ever, and that is God, the Father. We have a Father who “knows what things you need, even before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). In this same chapter, we go on to read, “Don’t be anxious, saying, what shall we eat or drink or with what will we be clothed… Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.” God knows our every need, and all He asks is that we “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33). Our Father will “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). What one has to do to receive all he needs is to be faithful to the Father. God will take care of us.
God loves us so much that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s creation (that is, man) became gross sinners, but that didn’t stop Him from loving those He created. That’s the way we humans are. No matter what children may or may not do, they are still our children—our flesh and blood. Sometimes a child may get “disowned,” but that is not normal, and it certainly is not God’s way. He had a Son that He loved more than anything, and He sent that Son to earth to die a cruel death in order that the men he created and loved could be reconciled to Him through the blood of that Son. God’s love prevailed in spite of our sin.
Sometimes, in dealing with offspring, favoritism may be shown to the one who tries hardest to do what is expected of him. This also is not God, our Father’s, way. Peter said in Acts 10:34, “God is no respecter of persons but, in every nation, he who fears Him and works righteousness is acceptable to Him.” To gain God’s favor, all one has to do is His will. That door is open to every person.
When we do wrong, God is a merciful Father. We read in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful as your Father is also merciful.” Mercy means to show leniency or pity. He pities us because we are doomed while in a sinful state. He will forgive us if we sincerely admit our wrong and ask His forgiveness. We are told this in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” All one has to do to be accepted back into God’s grace is to honestly and to sincerely admit fault or the wrong we have committed and ask for God’s forgiveness. Remember He is not partial and shows no favoritism. Sometimes in dealing with problems within the family, it’s difficult to get the point across that the person being disciplined is still loved. It’s hard to think of being loved when one is being punished or reprimanded for wrongdoing. God punishes us for wrongdoing even though His love is forever as He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Paul told the Corinthian brethren, “Blessed be God… the God of all comfort; the Father of mercies, who comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). He is a merciful God and will do His part in reconciling ourselves to Him. We read in 1 John 3:1, “What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God!” God’s people will be rewarded beyond measure for their faithfulness.
Fathers, we’ve looked at ways our Father Who loves us with an everlasting love provides our needs, gave His most prized possession as a sacrifice for our sins, shows no favoritism, and is merciful and forgiving. May you be more God-like in your human role as “fathers.” Happy Father’s Day!
Carry a Little Honey
T. Pierce Brown
In Genesis 43:11, there is a statement that made a special appeal to me. Jacob was giving his sons some instructions about what to take back to Joseph. He said, “Carry a little honey.” I remember brother Marshall Keeble saying to me about 40 years ago, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” I replied, “When I am preaching, I am not particularly interested in catching flies.” So, I continued my usual caustic way of preaching. I have little doubt that I have turned persons away from the truth, not because they hated the truth, but because of the harsh way I have presented it. I hope I never live long enough to learn how to preach the soft, “mealy-mouthed,” watered down doctrineless speeches that are called sermons in many places today. I also hope I do live long enough to learn what brother Fred Barton tried to impress on me when James Walter Nichols and I were debating against another team in his class. I had rather sarcastically attacked the logic of our opponents, implying that a person with enough brains to fill a peanut could present a more logical argument than they. Brother Barton said in his slow Alabama drawl, “Pierce, a person can be a Christian and a gentleman at the same time.” Sarcasm and ridicule was never practiced by great debaters like Alexander Campbell and need not be practiced by any Christian.
Knowing his sons as Jacob did, he could well have meant, “Not only take a little honey in your jars. Take a little sweetness in your soul. Do not be your usual crabbed unpleasant self.” Let us think of a few reasons for carrying a little honey.
First, do it for your own sake. It is not enough to be good. Most of us know those who are morally good but very disagreeable. They have strength of character but not beauty of soul. They are religious but lack attractiveness and cheerfulness.
It is true that the joy, peace and tranquility of a Christian are not the same as the giddy gladness of a child at a county fair. Nor is our tranquility the same as the deadness of concern of those who may get their tranquility from a pill. However, a person who is a chronic complainer, a dispenser of disillusionment and a purveyor of pessimism needs to examine the boat in which he is crossing the sea of life and see if perhaps he has sprung a leak.
We admit that there is enough to make a person sour, somber, cynical, bitter and sad if we dwell on the ingratitude, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, failure and hypocrisy of many preachers and others in the brotherhood. Yet often, the greatest problem is our own attitude, not the objective situation. The story of the two shoe salesmen who went to Africa to see if they could sell shoes is an illustration of that. The first one said, “Bring me home. Nobody wear shoes where I am.” The other sent the urgent message, “Send me 2,000 pair of shoes immediately. Nobody wears shoes where I am.”
Jesus knows better than any of us the dark clouds and shadows of life. He was a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He felt loneliness that none of us have yet felt, deserted by men and forsaken by God. He was misunderstood, mocked, mistreated and murdered by His enemies. Yet, he said, “My peace I leave with you.” James said, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers testings” (James 1:2). This is not only a command, but it gives enabling power to “carry a little honey.”
We need to do it not only for our own sakes, but also for the sake of others. Since there are so many things in life that bring disappointment, discouragement and despair, many need our help and encouragement. They need the “honey” of encouragement. Hebrews 12:12 says, “Lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees.” Paul said in Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Although I think it the business of a preacher of the Gospel to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, I have spent a large part of my preaching doing the latter. If I had a chance to start over, I think I would try to move a little closer to the former. That does not mean I would fail to rebuke sin. It does mean that I would be a little more conscious of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
I would try to carry a little honey of encouragement and appreciation. There are so many faults in my brethren that I felt it necessary to “Reprove, rebuke and exhort” much of the time. I still do, but I have discovered that one can do that and still intersperse heavily with, “Thank you. You have done a great job” when the situation calls for it. One does not have to lie, play politics or condone sin in order to do that.
There would be a great deal more wonderful things done and fewer problems of all kinds if we could carry a little honey in the home. By some strange quirk, many of us show less appreciation, courtesy and magnanimity in the home than we do anywhere in life. As I have grown older, I have wondered why I have been so sparing in my expression of praise and adoration for my wife. She is far sweeter, kinder, more thoughtful and more considerate than almost anyone I know, certainly more than I am. It is practically impossible for anyone to know her and not love her. Yet, some perverse spirit has caused me to reply to her question, “Do you love me?” with “A little, I guess.” If she comes out with a dress that enhances her natural beauty so it almost takes my breath away and asks, “How do you like it?” I may have replied many times, “Not too bad.”
That she has lived with me and loved me with consistency and constantly is a marvel of the ages. She has carried a little honey in the home, in church and in social relationships as she recognizes good, encourages any effort that is right, and shows appreciation and praise for even small things.
How does one learn to do this? Acts 4:13 gives a clue. “They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Those who are born with a sunny disposition may not need to have credit for being sweet, but those of us who may have a tendency to gripe, complain and find fault may have to work at it harder. Yet, we can do it as we live closer to the Lord. The more we really let the life of Christ be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:11) the more we will carry a little honey.