Paul planted many churches, among them the church in Thessalonica. In a sense that made him the Thessalonian Christians’ spiritual father. Therefore, from Paul’s relationship as seen in 1 Thessalonians 2, we can see some images of what a father is like.
A father sacrifices to provide for his family (2:9). Paul did not desire to be a burden to the Christians in Thessalonica and so he worked hard to support himself. Rather than imposing his needs on his spiritual children, Paul took it on himself to work as a tentmaker for a living. Just as Paul demonstrated sacrificial giving for others in the Christian family, a father works hard for a living and demonstrates sacrificial giving for the sake of his own family.
A father’s life influences his family (v10). Paul was holy, righteous and blameless in his Christian walk. While an earthly father cannot achieve sinless perfection, he can influence his family by walking in faith resulting in a life not personified by sinful ways. This will result in a righteous life, a life of integrity marked by moral and ethical correctness. He will take care to be blameless meaning beyond reproach, maintaining spiritual habits that will acquire blessing from both God and man.
A father’s life inspires his family (vv11, 12). Paul was like a father to the Thessalonians (v11). While the characteristic of a mother’s love is tenderness and cherishing her children, a father’s love demonstrates strength in lifting up his children to pursue godly lives. To this end, he encourages them, comforts them and urges them. A father will not just make his children feel better in life but he will also make them want to do better in life. To do that, requires a face-to face element in his family relationships. He must be personally involved in the lives of his children. A father must be concerned for the Christian walk of his children just as Paul was concerned for the Thessalonians’ Christian walk (v12). Paul wanted God to be proud of his Thessalonian children, whom God has called “into his Kingdom his Glory”. Paul did his best to ensure they grew as Christians that would glorify the name they bore. Similarly, an earthly father would want to be proud of his children. He would do his best to ensure his children picked up right virtues, conduct and character to honour the name they bore.
Some of you may recall the TV comedy series “Under One Roof”. In many episodes, the family patriarch Tan Ah Teck would sometimes launch into his famous “Let me tell you a story about a long time back when I was your age…” routine. Then all his children will sigh as they thought another boring life story was coming up. However, I think this is a wonderful thing showing how a father can encourage his children from his own experiences. Every child needs to learn how to life a purposeful life and to do that, the child needs good role models to follow.
May all our fathers be faithful servants and caring fathers who will grow children that live and honour both their earthly and heavenly fathers whose name they bear.