The other day I consulted my good friend Google about the characteristics of a good father, and it led me to some interesting sites. One site, for example, had the following to say: “A father should be a rock of strength to his children. He should provide a place of safety, so the child can fully develop him or herself in the protection of a stable home. A father should be someone who is tireless in his care for the children and who is righteous in his judgment. He doesn’t favor one child over the other but gives love to all. Yet, he is also firm in his love and doesn’t accept monkey business from any of them. He always searches for the best path even though his children may not always understand why he does what he does.”
This site was what we would consider a secular site, a site that has no religious affiliation or message, and yet, a pastor could have hardly put it down more clearly. Interestingly enough, the qualities of what could be considered a bad father were also mentioned.
“A bad father is a father that is not there when his children need him the most. A bad father is characterized as someone who prefers to shy away from his responsibilities; who is not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be an example to his children and is a man who puts his own needs above those of his children.”
The Bible talks about such fathers too. Paul, for example, writes: “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” * With infidel, Paul doesn’t necessarily mean a person who does not (yet) know God, but an obstinate, rebellious, hardened person who is mostly interested in his own happiness and cares little for others.
God is a father too, and he is a good Father. In the New Testament, depending on which translation you use, there are between 350 and 400 references to God as a father, and the most important prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, begins with the words, “Our father.”
More importantly, God is the only Father in which all the good qualities are combined. In Him is no trace of darkness. Consider in this context the following two Bible passages:
“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” *
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” *
Our Father wants to heal our wounds, repair our broken heart and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. He does that by drawing us near unto His own heart in deep and loving communion When we draw nigh unto Him He wants to take us in a loving embrace and kiss away our hurts. He never lets us fend for ourselves, and most certainly not in those difficult times when we do not seem to understand life and we tend to be confused and fearful.
Of course, the devil and the world do not agree. To them, faith in a loving Father is nonsense and virtually the biggest fairy tale ever told. Thus they seek for the smallest holes in our spiritual armor to release their troubling gas of deceit to convince us that God; if there even is one, is not a good father, who doesn’t care for us and who doesn’t know what He is doing.
Jesus called the devil a liar from the beginning.
Thus God, as a loving Father, asks us to honor Him with faith, to draw nigh unto Him, and to take the needed time for Him, so that His kisses can reveal the truth to us, and keep us on the straight and narrow. It was for this reason that Paul wrote: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
Or as another translation puts it: “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?'” (The Message)
Some consider the translation of the Message a bit too liberal, but as far as the word Abba, they got it right. The only real translation for that word is Daddy or Papa. It does not talk about a stern father that is eying his children from behind a desk and insists on obedience and has the rod ready in case one of his children breaks his commandments. Abba is the picture of a father who plays with his children, helps them with their homework and eventually goes through the fire to keep them safe.
Daddy, our heavenly Father.
I Timothy 5:8