Holidays in honor of parents have been customary since ancient times, but in the Western world they have only become official in the 20th century. In this country, Mother’s Day was first established by an act of Congress in 1914. It took quite a while longer (1972) for fathers to receive their own holiday after acceptance slowly grew from initial observances in the early 1900s.
It is surely fitting to have special days to express love and gratitude for our parents. After all, the fifth of God’s Ten Commandments begins, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12). This was later affirmed and even reinforced through the apostle Paul when he further promised, “It may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3).
But what exactly does it take to be truly worthy of such honor? Biblically speaking, it starts when parents have children; they are then exhorted to “train up” their children “in the way [they] should go” (Proverbs 22:6). However, godly instruction is primarily the responsibility of the Christian father, applied with a gentle and firm hand to raise his children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). And such an environment naturally begins with the father’s own commitment to godly living and godly leadership.
Perhaps the greatest incentive for godly living is the example fathers set for their own children. From King Solomon we know that “children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6). Children do indeed “glory” in their father when his example is good and godly, and they will likely desire to follow his moral and spiritual model throughout their own lives.
One of the many joys of fatherhood is not only to have children, but, Lord willing, to see grandchildren as well. Honorable men work hard to be able to leave an inheritance to their children, and, through them, to their grandchildren. For a “good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22).
Obviously, circumstances may not make it possible for fathers or grandfathers to leave a material estate to their descendants. Therefore, promises such as these must ultimately be understood in the spiritual sense. Even a poor man can leave a good inheritance of love, counsel, and a godly life. Of course, the greatest of all gifts to pass on to your children is to have led them to saving faith in our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. This most precious heirloom will last forever.
In this sense, even men who are biologically childless can have spiritual children as they bring others to Christ. Paul, for example, could call Timothy “my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2) and remind the believers at Corinth that “in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). Then what a joy it is when someone we have led to Christ begins to lead others to Him! In the great family of God, these spiritual grandchildren are our “children’s children” and constitute a beautiful and everlasting “crown” of fatherhood.
Through the years ICR has equipped multitudes of fathers and grandfathers (and mothers and grandmothers, too) with solid resources to help train their children in biblical truth. Perhaps our work has personally touched you in this way, or like me, you have the tremendous privilege to “glory” in the inheritance passed on by a godly father and grandfather. If so, ICR prayerfully invites your financial help to continue our ministry to “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris IV, H. 2013. The Glory of Godly Fathers. Acts & Facts. 42 (6): 21.