His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse. Malachi 4:6
Yesterday I started a series on Fathers, Daughters, and the Crisis in the Western World. Today I want to talk about ways to heal the divide between fathers and daughters. The common approach to working out father/daughter relationships these days is to tear apart our fathers. Most self-help books, including Christian ones, have us women weep over the emotional disconnect, absence, or abuse of our fathers. Father’s no doubt have the severe ability to wound us, but let’s flip the paradigm for a moment.
Since I am a daughter I want to deal with us. The first thing I want to ask is this: Do you have a reputation for appreciating your father? Do you seek his counsel and respect his advice? If you are unmarried, do you make him part of your decisions and life direction? Do you value his masculine qualities? Simply put, do you honor him?
The Old Law established that we must honor our father and mother. Jesus dealt with it specifically with the Pharisees in Mat. 15:3-9:
Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”
Let’s deal with this passage ladies. If we don’t honor our fathers Jesus himself is saying our worship is garbage. Sit on that for a moment.
I don’t care if you are a 15 year-old who is bucking his authority or a 36 year-old married woman. You must honor your father.
Maybe you are sitting there, reading this and saying, “My father doesn’t deserve it.” Maybe he abandoned you. Maybe he was physically present but emotionally distant. Maybe you feel like he gave you nothing but heartache. (For the sake of this short article, I don’t want to deal with fathers who have been sexually abusive. I’m not qualified to deal with the layers of such a complex, painful situation.)
If you find yourself resisting the thought of honoring your father because you don’t think he deserves it, remember this: Your father is a sinner in need of grace. Your father is not God. Your father isn’t even a super-hero. He is a regular guy who has been wounded by a sinful world the same as you. Allow yourself to be the hands and feet of Jesus, extending forgiveness and grace to an undeserving sinner.
Here’s some ideas on how to honor your father:
- Write him a letter on the reasons you appreciate him
- Live out a forgiving spirit towards him
- Seek his counsel
- Hear him out
- Stop behaving disrespectfully
- Involve him as a grandfather
- Tell him thanks
Today is the day. The moment is now. Go honor your father and see what God does!