Beyond just a day of celebration, how can we continue honoring and celebrating our fathers everyday, even when it’s hard to?
Last weekend, Trinitarians celebrated Father’s Day. Fathers were treated to a live original song performed by DiscoverLand children, as well as gifts and cards presented by IGNYTE ministry.
Lead Pastor Gerald Tan exhorted fathers, affirming their headships over their families and positions of godly influence.
As the weekend of vibrant celebrations came to a close, it got me thinking about what it really means to celebrate Father’s Day. God commanded us to honor our parents in Exodus 20:12. It’s easy to honor someone who openly loves you, but what if your father is difficult to love?
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
In recent years, my relationship with my father has not been the best. Instead of ministering godly values, his unpredictable temper outbursts have left me with tears.
A revelation came this year after one of my father’s outbursts. After asking him an innocent “why” question, he unexpectedly exploded with anger and accused me of always questioning him, as well as bringing up my past mistakes that were unrelated to what we were talking about. I was so angry and hurt that I did not speak to him for a week after that and kept asking God,“Are you seeing this God? How am I supposed to honor and love such a father?”
While I expected God to affirm me and tell me the incident wasn’t my fault, Colossians 3:12 kept appearing over and over in my times of prayer.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12
I was baffled. Surely God meant that my father should be the one clothing himself in kindness and patience? Ironically, it was precisely this line of thinking which made me realise that I had elevated myself into thinking I was morally and spiritually above my earthly father.
God then reminded me that Jesus first clothed Himself in humility, lowering himself to die for our sins, even while we are still sinful and didn’t deserve it, and Jesus died for ALL, my father included.
God also reminded me that He would not put us through anything that Jesus did not do Himself - including honoring our parents.
All fathers, like any human, are imperfect and may fall short of expectations. And just as God extended grace to all of us, I also had to learn how to extend grace to my earthly father.
What Honor May Look Like
One practical way to honor our parents, and particularly our fathers, is by obeying them. By submitting to our fathers, we are also honoring God’s appointment upon fathers to be heads of their households, as well as following Jesus’ example of willingly submitting to His Heavenly Father’s will.
I think a general rule of thumb to obedience is that so long as our parents’ wishes would not cause us to disobey God, we should try to obey them as much as possible.
Honouring God's appointment upon fathers to be heads of their households.
Another way to honor our fathers is to respect them despite their imperfections. This can come in the thoughts of and views we have towards them. We need to recognise their intentions even if we may not completely understand them.
Perhaps some of our fathers are not expressive in their emotions or are “silent providers” with few words of love. I have come to accept and appreciate that one way my father expresses love is by asking me if I have enough money and providing for me.
One way my father expresses love is by asking me if I have enough money and providing for me.
Lastly, if you have been hurt by your father in the past, perhaps it’s time to consider extending the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about letting someone get away with the things that they have done, but it is an act of surrender to God, submitting all past hurts to Him so that His healing love can come upon us. I knew that God was definitely speaking to me when the next verse after Colossians 3:12 spoke of forgiveness.
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
It (forgiveness) is an act of surrender to God... so that his healing love can come upon us.
God is our Ultimate Father
While our family circumstances may be different, one thing is for certain: we all have God the Father. In place of our fathers’ imperfections, God fills the gaps and loves us unconditionally. There is also a deep hope and consolation in looking forward to a future with God where He reconciles all things, including our imperfect relationships with our parents on earth
God fills the gaps and loves us unconditionally.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
Until then, let us continue to run our own race, growing more in Christ-likeness. While Father’s Day may be over, let’s be mindful and intentional in celebrating our fathers every day through small care acts. Whether it’s spending time together having a meal or telling your father “I love you”, a little love goes a long way in building a wonderful relationship.
Reflect & Respond
Reflect on how your father loves you despite his imperfections.
What is a small act you can regularly do to express your love and gratitude for him?