A Father’s Love and Humility

Presented June 20, 2010 by Pastor Eric Cuenin.

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     This morning I want to talk about dads. Being a good dad, a good mom, a good husband, a good wife certainly isn’t easy in this old world. Many Christians fail in their roles in the family. I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know.
     I confess that I sometimes think people say it’s because we’re just not twisting the family role just right; you know what I mean? We’re looking at what the Bible says about what it does for a family and how it’s supposed to operate, what a dad’s supposed to do and we’re kind of trying to do this but I think one of the failures or difficulties in the Christian home today isn’t just because we’re not following the guidelines correctly or that we didn’t go to the right seminar. It’s not just because we didn’t listen to last year’s Father’s Day sermon or Mother’s Day sermon or a discussion about the family. I think the main crux of the problem is this: we think it’s our daily walk with Jesus Christ. And that perhaps we think that we can become a good dad alone, a good Christian dad alone, and somehow neglect being a good Christian the rest of the week, or just when we’re in front of other people and the same is true about being a husband, a mother, or a wife. I think that the key to all of this is that if we fail in our Christian life, don’t think that you will succeed as a dad, a mom, a father, a husband, whatever else in your role, even children.
     We fail to realize that the Christian life isn’t just what people’s perception of you is. Or what you want it to be. In other words, when they see you, if you look like a good dad, act like a good dad around them, go out and play catch with the kids or take them out for ice cream, then we’ll be perceived as a good father. But I think it has to do daily with our Christian life and walk. I’m not saying anything that is earth shattering, but I think we sometimes forget the simplicity of God’s word. We want to succeed in one area, but we neglect the overall picture. The overall picture is God wants you to live for him day by day, to obey him, to trust him, to live the life 24-7. That is all the time and our failure is that we think we only need to do it part of the time.
     I think there’s a tremendous need for grace in our homes; I really do. There’s the struggle of home in the spiritual life. We have this fragmented fatherhood.
     Look with me in the book of James 5. Be the right person. Some of you are struggling in your fatherhood, your motherhood, your ability being a husband and a wife and you wonder why. And the problem is that it’s your Christian life, folks, and I’m going to be as direct as possible.
     Some people say I’m so direct that it bothers them, but don’t you get tired of people beating around the bush about how you get somewhere? We’ve just got to get to where we need to go and, in essence, what I’m sharing is you’re struggle with being a dad because you’re struggling with your Christianity, you’re struggling in your Christian walk and you don’t see that and ask why is this failing? If pastor would only preach more on the family. You know, people tell me that a lot.
     I remember one year I probably preached about ten sermons on the family. This was several years ago. And somebody came up to me after that year and said: if only Pastor would preach more sermons on the family. And I thought to myself, I’ve preached I don’t know how many messages on the family this past year, which was much more than I usually do, and I thought to myself: Wow. Where were you when I preached those sermons?
     I think there’s a tremendous need for grace in our lives and our homes, and I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s hard to live the Christian live. I’m not going to pretend and tell you that it’s not. You are who you really are when you go through the doors of your home. All of your blemishes, all of your weaknesses will be seen in the home by your children, your wife, your husband, whomever it may be. I know I’m not speaking directly just to dad’s. It will be seen when you enter into your home. Hey, that’s the place where you take off your coat, kick off your shoes where you can finally put your feet up somewhere; this is where you can really live your life. And that’s kind of the problem, too. Sometimes we don’t think we have to live the Christian life when we go to our homes. And we start living as a different person, and that’s a struggle.
     James 4:6-7. It says but he giveth more grace wherefore he sayeth God resisteth the proud but giveth grace unto the humble.
     How do we get more grace in our home? How do we do these things? How do we get out of this difficulty where our fatherhood seems to be so distinct from the rest of our Christian life?
     I want more grace in my life, don’t you? I really do. I want more grace in my life.
     Wherefore he sayeth God resisteth the proud. You see, one of the things he resists is when we’re arrogant, when we don’t think we need any help, when we think we can arrive to all our own conclusions, when we think we can do it without God, when we’re more important than what the Word of God says, when we don’t have to bother to live the Christian life, and become proud, arrogant and selfish.
     It says but he giveth grace unto the humble. The way up is always which way? You’ve got to go down, don’t you? You’ve got to get down on your knees. You’ve got to go down in your life instead. It’s rather a sad conclusion, and I sometimes feel sad when I look through these passages.
     We’re told to submit yourselves, therefore, to God, and it’s not just when it comes to passages about certain portions that I’m willing to agree to in my life and that I’m open to. Or I said, hey, I gave it a shot once and it didn’t work and I don’t want to do it.
     We submit ourselves, therefore, to God. It says resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. One of the problems is that we sometimes become bondage to the sin and the flesh that we once lived. We like to give way to the devil. We like to give way to our selfish desires. It’s unfortunate because it makes it worse for the home. It makes our home not what it ought to be because we want to feed the flesh.
     So we’re talking about a father’s love and humility. We notice that there’s this father’s fragmentation in his life. He has a hard time bringing it all together. There are too many separations in his life. He wants to go into one compartment or another. He wants to feed those things that make for life to be something well.
     I realize you live under a lot of pressures in 2010. Our life, even though we have a lot of eases and benefits and such, we have much less free time. We put a lot of bondage on ourselves. We try to consume our lives and with every moment doing something.
     Sometimes I watch the dads of our church and they’re consumed by many things. They are so busy staying busy, keeping up with all your neighbors, keeping up with the American lifestyle, and it sometimes runs you ragged. You have very little time to contemplate the things of Jesus Christ. You have very little time to give consideration to the wonder and the glory of God, your children and your wife. You do not grab a hold of life because we’re so consumed by all the things modern Americans are consumed by and it can be any kind of technology.
     We can be out there running, doing all the things we think we will do to make our children better and bigger and all of those other things, but we end up neglecting our spiritual lives. It becomes contagious toward your children and your wife as well. It’s kind of a sad consequence.
     I want to talk particularly about love and humility. You see, when we talk about humbling ourselves for more grace, two things come to my heart and mind: its humility and we see this in James. James says you if want more grace, what should you do? Resist the proud. God does that. That’s what he does. He resists proud people.
     And in the advent of all of these things in the beginning, thoughts of all of these things, where do I go? How do I handle humility? Usually it goes along with love. Love and humility kind of come together and dads have to lead the way. We talk about wanting to be the leader. We talk about wanting to direct the way we want to go and we want to lead our charges, our wives and our children the right way. How do we do it? It’s not who shouts the loudest in the home. It’s not the one who says that I’m the dad and bangs on the table; I’m the husband; I’m the father. That’s not how you lead. You lead by example. You lead by your servant hood. You lead by the way you live your Christian life and your existence.
     Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 13. We live in very proud and haughty days. We want to contend. We want to go up against others. We want to be the best.
     I went to the store yesterday and I saw a particular individual that I used to do see in a summer tennis league tennis years ago with Renee, my daughter, when she was a girl. We spent a few weeks doing those things for two or three years. And I remember I saw a guy in line. I stopped there for about ten minutes and picked up a few things at the store and saw this fellow in line and tried to get his attention to say hello. You know, it’s one of these things where they look right through you. Do you know what I’m talking about? And he never saw you, didn’t recognize you or whatever else. Those things just kind of happen.
     But I saw him and I remembered him He had a boy that played a number of years ago. His son graduated from high school a couple years ago, was younger than Renee, it was just a young kid’s group. It goes by quick, believe me; doesn’t it, folks? If you have older kids, it goes by fast, you look back and you say what did I really do? Were these the most important moments? But I remember he was really, really wanted his kids to play tennis very well, which is fine, but he also wanted them to be really good academically as well, and that’s what I remembered him for.
     I wondered how competitive we are in our lives, in our struggle to be the best at all of these things. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but do we ever find that we really desire our children to live for Jesus Christ first and foremost?
     In 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 — it says this talking about love. You notice it says love suffers long, doesn’t it? Long suffering. In other words, boy, I’ve got to tell you in the family that you’ve got to suffer long, don’t you? You put up with a lot of things in the family that are tough and struggling, and if you’re committed in your family, there are things that you’ll suffer long with. In other words, you’re willing to put up with a lot of things.
     Sometimes we’re not as willing to put up as much with other people which is rather of sad. Sometimes there are correlations even with the church. Paul is writing to a church, but I see it in the family. You see, I want to direct your attention this morning to families, but I want you to see it in the context of the Christian life. I want you to see yourself in the Christian life and then bring it into the family. You are only the right person in the family as you are before the Lord Jesus day by day.
     People often come to me saying they’re looking for the right person in their life. That’s who they want to marry. They’re looking for the right person. You know what I always say? What I always say to them is this: Are you the right person?
     Everybody wants the right person. Why in the world does the right person want to be with you unless you’re the right person, correct? You know, some things are really obvious to me. You want the right person. Yeah, I’m looking for Mr. Right; I’m looking for Mrs. Right in my life. Well, praise God, are you the right person? What do you mean am I the right person? What do you mean am I the right person? Are you the right person? Are you living for Jesus Christ? You want somebody that’s living for Jesus Christ, but you don’t want to live for Jesus Christ. Why in the world would that person be looking for you?
     Do you see the same correlation in the home with dads and moms in all of these things? Dads need to lead the way. They’ve got to suffer long. Boy, my dad’s got a temper; boy, my dad’s really impatient; boy – we’ve got to — you know what happens then? The sons and daughters become impatient. I struggle with impatience in my life and I’ve got a good reason; I wonder why. You know what? Sometimes that happens.
     We all have our battles in our lives, don’t we? I have my battles also. Sometimes we don’t succeed as much as we need to be, but we’ve got to suffer long. And God has, over the years, endeavored to teach me patience in many ways that I really didn’t want to experience and learn, but that’s how we learn. Either I’m going to learn it correctly or not at all.
     It carries on and says it’s kind. Boy, my experience is that moms are generally kinder than dads. Generally their heart is brimming with a little more love, but you know what? Dads are called to be kind, also and to show kindness in their life and to be soft and tender.
     Love envyeth not. We’re not always saying I envy this, I envy that, I’m jealous of all these things.
     Love — and here’s where we’re going with humility. Love vaunteth not itself. Vaunting itself means it lifts itself up. Love does not do that.
     Love is not selfish. This is kind of a secondary point in. One of the great tragedies of humankind is its sin. We are sinners by nature. We tend to be self-lovers; isn’t that true? You say I’m not that way; I’m not somebody that loves himself. I’m sorry, but the Bible says no man yet hateth himself; isn’t that true? In other words, it comes natural to us.
     Some of you are sitting there saying I can hardly wait to see what my wife is going to feed me for lunch today. Mmm boy, if Cuenin would just get us out of here I could get to the plate quicker. Why do we do that? Well, I’m hungry, Pastor, don’t you understand hunger? Yes, I do. But sometimes our self love for ourselves says to ourselves what? I want to eat, and I’m more important than all these other things; I’m a little uncomfortable; I’m a little of this; that’s why we do what we want; that’s why we do what we do, right?
     We like to feed the flesh. We’re self-loving. We vaunt ourselves. We lift ourselves up. I would be interested in who gets the biggest piece? Who gets the biggest piece of pie? Who gets the biggest piece of cake? Well, today it’s dad, but does dad always get the biggest piece? Does he always grab hold of it, or is it a big fight at your table to see who gets the biggest piece? You know, it’s an interesting sign of character how we handle this.
     I’ll tell you a quick story. First time I had a meal at Paula’s folks — I’m dating my wife Paula at the time. This is way back when, you know, circa 1843, you know, so — you know, you’re sitting there. They’re eating fried chicken. They pass the chicken to the new boyfriend or soon to be finance as we’re getting pretty serious at this point, engagement is fairly imminent. I don’t think we’re engaged yet, but it’s fairly getting close to that time, but I’m having a meal in Indiana.
     I’m out in Indiana. So here we are in Indiana and I’m at the table and want to make a good impression. I’m pretty hungry. I traveled from northern Ohio at my parents’ home to central northern Indiana and it took me about four hours to get there and now here I am at the table, and I get the chicken first. It’s best if you’re last in those situations, don’t you think?
     So I’m really hungry and I see all these big pieces of fried chicken going by and I say to myself, you know I’m not going to take the biggest piece because I have a feeling everyone here is going to watch and see what in the world I’m doing.
     This is a lesson for some of you other people here. If you’ve already blown it, it’s too late.
     So I take one of the smallest pieces I can find and place it on my plate. I say maybe no one will say anything, maybe no one’s paying attention, but later it became a topic in her family.
     Was it wise? One of the few times I was wise, but it was a case of saying to myself I don’t have to have the biggest piece in order just because I’m hungry. I don’t have to do that, and I know a lot of times dads don’t do that but sometimes there is a bit of selfishness that runs in our heart that we don’t even think about because we think we do this, we need to do those things. It’s when we’ve got to be the first in line, because we’ve got to feed our needs. Some of you allow your children to get away with that also and you’ve never taught them differently. That’s pretty sad. Dads and moms, you wonder why if you’re not the example, why are my children selfish? Because you allow them to vaunt themselves. They have never learned the meaning of self-sacrifice even in the little things of life. I’m teaching you actually what is biblical, but it’s also something that will run true in your life, it’s a demonstration of character.
     Character is important in life no matter what people tell you. There is a tremendous need for character in our lives, and we’re not teaching enough biblical character these days. We’ve got to be cautious.
     Because it goes on to say it’s not puffed up. It doesn’t have to be the biggest.
     It says it doth not behave itself unseemly.
     It seeketh not it’s what? Its own. It’s not about me all the time. We’re losing that context because we’re being taught today that there is no one more important than we are in life. Our society teaches that from the time you’re a little child until you are older that there is no one more important than you, no one, and yet that does not exemplify love and humility and we wonder why we are lacking in the home, in the church, and the love and humility that is necessary to carry on in our live, and this is sad.
     It’s not easily provoked; thinketh no evil. Right now I hope you’re not thinking evil of the pastor because you love me. This is the result of a lack of love and humility.
     Here’s the test in your home to see if it’s a home of selfishness or grace. I was thinking about this. I’m sure there are many other tests. This is my own little test.
     The first test is your own children. It’s the fruit of your labor. It’s always the fruit of your labor. If a farmer goes out during harvest and the weather has been good and has he taken care of his crops. He goes out into his field and he checks it over and says here is the result of my labor. Why are all these weeds out here? Why didn’t it grow well? Perhaps you neglected it. Perhaps you didn’t do what you should have done.
     And the result of a lacking of our own Christian life, the lack of teaching biblical character, the lack of humility, the lack of love in a home will produce what? It will produce what you to say that. Perhaps in some respects it is. I have to live by the same test. I don’t always like what I see out of my children’s lives a hundred percent, but there are some things that I thank God for, that God has worked some grace in their lives.
     The test of your children is seen by what you have taught them, and it’s possible, if there are not the results coming out of their life, that it could be because of two things: Perhaps they really don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, perhaps they’re immature. There are other possibilities.
     It’s the test. It’s the result. It’s always what we get and sometimes I understand how that works even in my life and my home, why I am the way that I am.
     You see, the Bible says this in Philippians 2:4. It says; look not every man also on his own things but every man on the things of others, right?
     That is how we live the Christian life. We watch out for each other. Part of the success that our church will derive in the future as well as the family is our ability to be able to do these things. Do we have the love and humility that we will look out for the things of others? But I don’t want us to think: can’t they grow up enough and start doing it themselves? Perhaps they need your helping hand.
     Another test is the ability of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an interesting situation. I will share this with you about forgiveness.
     You see, we’re taught in 1 Peter 4:8 — It says this: And above all things, it says have fervent love among yourselves. Fervent love. It’s kind of like — it’s passionate love. It’s fervent. Have a fervent love among yourselves. Perhaps we don’t talk about love enough.
     We talk a lot about it in the home. Do you love each other? Do you love your daddy and your mommy? Do you love your sister? Do you love your brother? We teach these things, at least in word. But sometimes we have to understand that it goes beyond the scope of words.
     We can talk about love in the church, but here is the hallmark of love and humility. This is of utmost importance. Above all things have fervent love among you for love shall cover what? A multitude of sin. Love will cover a multitude of sin. We’re too proud and not humble enough to forgive someone else, that’s a problem. We need to humble ourselves before the face of God in order that we might have the grace that is needed to carry on. We need to love people so much that we’re willing to forgive them.
     That’s why sometimes dads and moms can forgive anything their child does. Sometimes their love gets a little out of whack, they forget the discipline part and the character part because they think love is only doing whatever the child wants and that’s a mistake.
     You see, you forgot the other passage in Hebrews 12. No one yet loves somebody. No father loves his child — you know, this is a great passage for Father’s Day — unless he really disciplines them.
     Finally in closing, love and humility shows maturity. You will finally start arriving in your lives as a family; you will start finally arriving in your lives as a family when you start showing love and humility.
     And you say where do you get that? Well, just stick with the same passage in 1 Corinthians 13:11, it says when I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. Sometimes we have to put away the childish things that are immature for the Christian life.
     I’m praying that your home will mature. I’m praying that our church will mature. I’m praying that we will demonstrate these things. How great is it when we have humility and love in our homes and our lives. This is our Christian life day by day. We deal with each other in humility and love and instead of arrogance, pride and where forgiveness is absent. We don’t just love each other enough. Let’s put it into action today, folks. Let’s put it into action beginning with our homes. Let’s do that.
     Oh, Father, as we leave today, we pray that dads and moms might come together. May this be a wonderful day for the whole family where dads and moms can love each other, they can embrace and say that they love each other, that they will do whatever they can in humility to come together for the working of the home and for the glory of Christ. May this be the result? May your family and the families of Berean Baptist Church come together as they’ve never come together? In Jesus’ name. Amen.
     Perhaps families today need to talk. That is my invitation. I invite you to talk to your families if you come together. Don’t be so proud; don’t be so unloving as to not do that.

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