Proverbs 23:22 reads, “Listen to your father, who gave you life…” In his Father’s Day message, Pastor Aries Zulkarnain preached on the value of honoring one’s Heavenly Father and his earthly father.
Fathers are often laden with heavy burdens and responsibilities of supporting the family, while putting up a strong front. This has been especially difficult amidst COVID-19. On the Father’s Day weekend (Jun 20 and 21), Aries Zulkarnain, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, shared a message to appreciate and encourage the fathers in the church.
Pastor Aries began by posing a question to the audience, “Why are fathers so important so important in our lives?”
Proverbs 23:22 reads, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
“Fathers teach us life lessons,” the pastor preached. “Someone once said that a father is neither an anchor, who holds us back, nor a sail, who takes us there. But a father is a guiding light, whose love shows us the way.”
Reading 1 Corinthians 4:15, Pastor Aries highlighted that although life skills can be gleaned through the Internet, such “Internet fathering” cannot match what a father can teach through day-to-day living with his children. Listing seven contrasts between instructors and fathers, the pastor went on to explain why “one father teaching you is worth 100 teachers instructing you.”
However, the pastor acknowledged that no father is perfect—some fathers may be far from what their child wishes they could be. But God does not makes mistakes—He has a reason for putting a child into a particular family under a certain father.
“There is value in learning to honor our fathers despite their flaws and weaknesses,” states Pastor Aries. He reminded the church that honoring one’s parents is the Fifth Commandment. Exodus 20:12 reads, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Pastor Aries unpacked this, noting that the promise attached to this commandment is that one’s success in life is tied to how one honors one’s parents.
“If you cannot withstand the tension at home with your parents, how are you going to manage crisis, pressures and tensions when at work?” the pastor asked. “The tension that you are experiencing at home with your parents is actually preparation for the coming pressure that you will face as you grow up.”
LEARNING FROM OUR EARTHLY FATHERS
Pastor Aries qualified his point with a personal example. When he was 18, he worked in his father’s factory in Indonesia. One time, the factory was badly hit by a flood and all their assets were destroyed. The factory could not continue its production until the flood receded. To his surprise, Pastor Aries observed his father going to work daily as if it was business as usual. He followed his father to the factory out of curiosity one day and he saw that the employees were just standing around in the factory, unable to work. He asked one of them what his father was doing.
The employee replied, “Your dad came not to wait for the water to recede but to give us moral support and to lead by example as the boss of this company. We are all here waiting to restart the moment the tide turns. Seeing him here with us gives us the confidence that he has not given up hope on this factory, which is our bread and butter.”
That day, Pastor Aries said he caught a value that has shaped his life since. Seeing his father show up despite the crisis taught Pastor Aries “when life comes down hard on us, it is important for me to not give up and to just show up every day”.
Pastor Aries encouraged the church to honor their father even when they see his failures. “If you choose to obey God’s word and honor your father, God will set things up for you one day and that you will be able to catch a life lesson from him,” he encouraged.
LOOKING TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
Pastor Aries went on to encourage the church, and especially the fathers, to understand the love of their heavenly Father.
John 17:20-23 records the last prayer Jesus said at the Last Supper. His prayer is for “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Why is it important for believers to know that God loves them? 1 John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.”
“The nature of our heavenly Father is love, so if you do not know His love, you do not know the Father,” Pastor Aries explained. The next two verses taught that if a believer understands the perfect love of the Father, he will not be afraid of going through crisis and hardship.
Pastor Aries said that the fear mentioned in the verses was not referring to the fear of opposition, but the fear of punishment. “You think that you are facing this problem because God is angry with you and is, therefore, punishing you.”
When people err, there are consequences, but these are not a punishment from God. When they know the love of the Father, believers gain the assurance that God loves them regardless of their actions and situations, and understand that hardship is not God punishing them.
Pastor Aries told the audience that their relationship with God must go from just serving God to having God as their Father. They must mature to a point where they view themselves as sons and daughters instead of servants. “Learn to serve God from a position of relationship, and not from a position of transaction,” he encouraged.
Hardships, the pastor taught, are necessary for discipleship. The Greek translation for hardship is training. Just as a father trains his children, God allows His children to go through hardships because He treats them as His children.
“Discipline seems unpleasant at the time (you are going through it), and even painful. However, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace,” he preached. “God disciplines us for our good.”
He added, “The greatest Father’s Day gift we can give our heavenly Father is our revelation that He is a loving Father, not just a deity who is so far away and separated from what we are going through in life.”
In closing, Pastor Aries reminded the church that God loves them and will take care of their families. When they choose to obey God and honor their earthly fathers despite finding it hard to do so, God will give them grace. The pastor ended the service by praying a blessing over fathers and for children to obey God and honor and respect their fathers.