I spent my twenty-ninth birthday in the Emergency Room. It was late at night, and our four-year-old daughter was having severe abdominal pain. Feeling the situation was urgent, we decided that Tim would stay home with our infant son, and I would head to the hospital with our daughter. Without my husband by my side, I did the only other thing I knew to do…I called my Dad.
I don’t remember what time it was, but it was late enough for the roads to be clear. When we arrived, Dad was already there waiting for us. A few hours later, with some prune juice in hand, we were cleared to go home. We can laugh about it now, and it’s a memory that perfectly encapsulates my Dad. Always there for me, especially in a pinch.
The Perfection Gap
Isn’t it interesting that God has chosen to reveal himself to us as a Father? It might be easier for us to see God as a delighting-in-his-children-kind-of-God if that’s the kind of father we’ve had. But as wonderful as some of our fathers are, and have been, they are still tainted by sin.
God has none of the imperfections of our fathers, and yet he does reveal himself in a relationship we can all understand. Like an earthly father, he loves, protects, disciplines, and sacrifices for the good of his children. He is not just a heavenly Father, he’s a relatable, close, approachable warm, Abba Daddy.
I love the way John Piper expressed the gap between our earthly fathers and our heavenly One.
“God is ten thousand times better than any good father. The difference between a good earthly father and a bad earthly father is a millimeter, but the difference between God and the best earthly father is infinite.”
We don’t usually see it that way, do we? We see a wide gap between good and bad fathers. But consider, the best father, no matter who he is, or how wonderful he may be, is infinitely less good than the goodness of your heavenly Father.
Widening the Gap
Jesus acknowledged this gap when he said, “If your father, being evil, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more does your heavenly father know how to give good gifts to those who love him” (Matthew 7:11). Even our “good” fathers, who are evil in comparison to the goodness of God, want to bless their children. This is common grace. Even unbelieving dads want to do good for and by their children.
Even though our perception of what is good is limited by our humanness, at a foundational level there are some qualities we generally think a good dad should possess.
A Good Dad will…
- Work hard to take care of his family.
- Buy things to show his family he loves them.
- Serve his community faithfully.
- Know the world is evil and be on the lookout for truth.
- Want to make his kids happy.
- Love his wife.
- Discipline his kids.
- Leave an inheritance for his children and grandchildren.
- Give good pep talks and help his children when they are down.
- Protect his children from harm and evil-doers.
- Want to see his children succeed.
- Desire to be a good role model.
Some dads would undoubtedly feel accomplished checking off some of that list. These traits do paint a picture of a good, morally upright man. But, if the gap between a good dad and an evil dad (according to Piper) is a millimeter…how can a good dad stand out even more?
The gap widens when a man desires to not just be good, but godly.
Compare the qualities of this list with the one above. The distance stretches from millimeters to miles.
A Godly Dad will…
- Live and work with God’s glory always in view. (1 Cor 10:31)
- Know his gift-giving is a reflection of God’s heart to bless those he loves. (Matt 7:9-11)
- Serve the Lord with his whole house. (Josh 24:15)
- Believe Jesus is Truth and therefore seeks to keep careful watch over his own life and doctrine. (1 Tim 4:16)
- Pursue his own joy in the Lord, knowing this is for his good, and the good of his whole family. (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 37:4)
- Consider his marriage as the grace of life, and show his wife love and honor in front of his children. (1 Peter 3:7)
- Seek to use discipline as a means of discipleship. (Eph 6:4)
- Know his legacy begins and ends with leaving a godly heritage. (Psalm 127:3-5, Prov 23:24)
- Exhort and encourage his children to walk worthy of their calling for God’s kingdom. (1 Thess 2:11-12)
- Teach his children to fear God who has the power to cast them into hell. (Luke 12:4-7)
- Know no greater joy than to hear his children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)
- Know he daily falls short of the glory of God and relies on the grace of God. (Rom 3:23, Heb 4:16, 2 Cor 12:9)
Embrace the Gap
The perfection gap between our fathers and God, shouldn’t make us uncomfortable, it should give us joy. No matter how wonderful your father has been, your heavenly Abba loves you infinitely more and better. And if your earthly father has failed you, know that your heavenly One never has and never will (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5).
It’s not hard for me to honor the men in my life this Father’s Day. My husband and father have both been imperfect, but godly examples to me and my children. I know they are striving to love us like Jesus does, which is no small task.
Good and godly men deserve honor today. The standard is infinitely high. They love, protect, discipline, sacrifice for, and rush to the E.R. during all hours of the night because they love their children. If you have a good dad, you are blessed, but if you have a godly dad, you have a double portion. These men are pictures of God’s love towards us, and they are a good, good, gift.
Happy Father’s Day!
P.S. Do you have a godly dad? You can encourage him by praising the godly qualities you see in his life. Forward him this post as a way to say thank you!