Topical Scripture: Job 1:1-5
Today is Father’s Day—in days past, the Christmas of tie makers, with 12,600 miles of ties being sold. That’s enough ties tied end-to-end to cross the country six times, with enough left over for 800,000 men to wear to church today.
This morning, as a father I’m more interested in what God wants me to give to my children than in what they will give to me. I have plenty of ties in my closet (and I’m so glad I don’t have to wear one to Chapel). What do they need from me in theirs?
Father’s Day should be every day. This day to encourage and resource our fathers is a biblical, urgent day for us all.
Of all things we should try to be great at, being great fathers should be at the top of the list. God has entrusted eternal souls to our care. We have no greater privilege or responsibility.
To that end, I’d like us to meet a role model for the ages. One of the finest fathers in all of literature. From his example, we’ll find keys to being a great father. And we’ll learn how to use them in our lives and families this week.
The first key: integrity
Our text begins: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job” (v. 1a). Job was a real person, referred to in Ezekiel 14:14 as a person of “righteousness.” Uz was a Gentile area, probably east of Israel in modern-day Jordan and Syria. It’s interesting that one of the most godly people in all the Bible was not even an Israelite.
Our text says of him, “that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1b). “Blameless” and “upright” go together in the Hebrew text as two sides of the same coin. The first means to be “complete, entire, lacking nothing”; the second means “standing straight,” unwilling to compromise morally.
Taken together, they lead to our first key: integrity.
The word comes from the Latin for “one” and means “to be one person.” There’s nothing worse than when the inside and the outside don’t agree. Our children see this immediately. We can lead them no further than we are. If we want them to be people of integrity, we must be men of integrity.
The second key: spirituality
Our text also says of Job that he “feared God and turned away from evil.” To “fear God” is to reverence him, to respect him with awe and submission. To “turn away from evil” is to refuse it every time, in every situation.
Together, these words hold our second key: spirituality. Genuine spirituality requires both commitments. If I fear and reverence God, I will refuse sin. To have his power to refuse sin, I must revere and fear him.
Integrity and spirituality are both essential to great fatherhood. Many fathers live with personal integrity but without deep spirituality. Others are very spiritual on Sunday but demonstrate less integrity on Monday. We must have both to be the best fathers we can be.
It’s been said, “Until a boy is fifteen, he does what his father says; after that, he does what his father does.”
A famous child psychiatrist once studied the faith of children and compared it to their relationships with their fathers. His conclusion: “No child will think more of God than he thinks of his own father.”
The third key: time together
We’ve discussed Job’ personal life; now, let’s look at his family.
He had seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants. He was indeed the richest man in the East (vv. 2–3).
For many fathers, this would be enough. So long as we provide for our families financially, we think we’ve done all we need to do. When baseball player Pete Rose was caught up in an illegal gambling furor a few years ago, his daughter told reporters he was a “crummy father.” Rose responded: “What’s she mean I’m a ‘crummy father’? I’m a great father. Why, just last week, I bought her a brand-new Mercedes.”
By contrast, Job’s sons “used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them” (v. 4). Here we discover our third key: time together. Every night of the week, one of Job’s sons would host dinner for their entire family. Even though they were scattered around the area, they spent time together as a family, every day.
Children spell “love,” “t-i-m-e.” They cannot distinguish between “quality” time and “quantity” time. For them, there’s just time. It takes time to be a great father.
The fourth key: worship together
Our text continues: “And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts'” (v. 5).
Here we discover our fourth key: worship together.
Each week Job would “send” for his family, calling them to meet him at his house. He would “rise early in the morning,” a Hebrew idiom meaning “as his highest priority.” He would “consecrate” them, sacrificing an animal for each of his children.
He did this proactively, in case they had sinned. He did not assume that they were where they should be spiritually but took active steps to lead them to the Lord. He was their first pastor and priest, taking personal responsibility for their spiritual lives.
His example is in Scripture so we will follow it today. Do you have regular time to pray with your family? To read Scripture together? To worship?
We cannot lead our children further than we are willing to go. And, we must lead them if they will go there.
The fifth key: consistency
Our text concludes: “Thus Job did continually” (v. 5b). Not just on feast days, or special observances, or when problems arose. He was committed to personal integrity, spirituality, time together, and worship together, every week.
No matter the stress of his work or the circumstances of his life, these priorities came first.
No wonder he was known as “the greatest of all the people of the east” (v. 3). His family would have agreed.
How well would your family say you’re demonstrating these keys in your life and family? Personal integrity, spirituality, time together, worship together, and consistency—which is God’s invitation for focus and progress today?
Being your family’s spiritual leader is your greatest responsibility and privilege. You are shaping eternal souls. Nothing else matters as much. So be encouraged that your work is vital. And decide what you will do to take your next step today.
A group of botanists hiking in the mountains found a very rare flower. It was growing on a ledge of rock which could be reached only at great peril and with a lifeline. None were experienced climbers, so they found a local shepherd boy and offered him several gold coins to climb down the rope and retrieve the flower.
The boy wanted the money but feared that the job was too dangerous. He would have to trust strangers to hold his lifeline. Suddenly he had an idea. He left the group, and returned a moment later holding the hand of a much older man. He ran with excitement to the edge of the cliff and said to the botanists, “You can tie the rope under my arms now. I’ll go into the canyon, as long as you let my father hold the rope.”
Whose rope is in your hand today?