Being a dad is a challenging… privilege. Kids have this way of bringing out the best and the worst in a man – at least in me. As a dad of 4 kids 6 and under, there are moments when I’ve felt like I aced it as a dad and could win the dad-of-the-year award, and then moments when I’ve been ashamed and humbled by my failures and worried about how I was permanently scarring my kids.

If you are a dad in the room – then you’ve been there. Like the times the kids are squabbling, and I’ve told them “Calm down” with a voice that confirms that I clearly don’t know what “calm” means.

Or, even worse, the time when, already frustrated by the inconvenience of having to, yet again, deal with a situation, I jumped to a conclusion, assumed my child guilty, disciplined without listening, then realized moments later as they explained through tears that I was wrong….

If you are a proud and selfish man and like it that way, I don’t recommend becoming a dad. For that matter I don’t recommend getting married or becoming a Christian either. When I first became a Christian, I found out how selfish I was, then I became a husband and found out I was still more selfish than I thought. Then I became a dad and wow…. God’s done some work on me through that.

Being a dad is a challenging privilege. Around here we describe it as stewardship – a responsibility entrusted to us by God to be done for God’s glory. We don’t own our kids, they belong to God and he has put us over them to see that they become all God intends for them to become.

Anyone here agree with that approach? Raise your hand if you want to be a dad committed to stewarding your child.

Okay, so if we are going to do that, we need to get into God’s Word and soak in that as it contains everything we need to live a life pleasing to God.

I hope you brought your Bible, because more than anything else, that’s what we need this morning. You can open it up to Galatians 6 where we are going to look at what it means to be a wise & godly father.

Before we dig into the text, I want you to know that I recognize that I’m not preaching to a room full just of dads. There are lots of different types of people in the room, and I get that. For some of you, this might be a challenging day, perhaps because you’ve wanted to be a dad, but haven’t been able to become one for a variety of reasons. For some of you it might be a challenging day because your dad isn’t involved in your life or has passed away. For some it may be challenging because your dad still isn’t saved, and you are praying that God would open his eyes before it’s too late. To each one of you here, know this. We are family – and family bears each other’s burdens. Your pain is my pain. You are not alone today.

But you also need to know that our joy is your joy. We are family – and family shares each other’s joys. So, if you are struggling with a burden, share it, and if you are overflowing with joy, share it. We are in this together!

Now let’s get to the Bible. If you’ve ever read the letter of Galatians you’ll know that the apostle Paul – a messenger for Jesus – was writing to a church that had started out well but had swerved from the straight and narrow and had started to confuse and pollute the good news of Jesus. He wrote to them to correct them and near the end of the letter, where we are going to pick up, he is reminding them of some very basic Christian principles. One’s you’ve probably heard before.

He says in Galatians 6:7-10, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

This passage has broad application to each person here, but today I want to focus specifically on how it can apply to fathers in the room and I believe the passage clearly outlines three qualities are essential to becoming a wise and godly father.

First, a wise and godly father is clear-headed about how God’s world works.

There is a direct connection between clarity and godliness. You don’t need to be especially brilliant to be godly, but you do need to be clear-headed. You need to know a few things and know them with conviction.

You don’t need to be especially brilliant to be godly, but you do need to be clear-headed. You need to know a few things and know them with conviction.

Today, just like in Paul’s day, deception is far too common among believers. The Galatians started out well, they started out by believing Christ in faith alone, but then along came some Jewish people who tried to convince them that good works of the law – things like circumcision which was a sign in the old covenant – really was a necessary thing to be in right relationship with God. Some of them were starting to be convinced so Paul wrote to them and said, “having begun by the Spirit [i.e. faith in Christ alone], are you now being perfected by the flesh” [i.e. good works of the law/your effort]? (Gal 3:3) His point was to say that feeding the flesh – the sinful human nature – never produces spiritual fruit.

Satan’s aim is always to deceive us – to make us fall for something that isn’t true. To string us along taking us down the wrong path. And I believe one of the tactics he uses is to first confuse us.

If I were to ask today, is it by your works you are saved or by faith, I’m guessing most everyone here would recognize that the right answer is “faith”. But if I took 15 minutes to confuse you as best I could by taking Scripture out of context and using a string of logical fallacies with hidden presuppositions, then asked you a loaded question, it would be a whole lot easier for us to come to the wrong conclusion. It is way easier to deceive in confusion because that’s where deception lives. Paul knew that, so he warned the Galatians clearly, “hey don’t be deceived, You can’t fool God.”

It is way easier to deceive in confusion because that’s where deception lives.

I suppose we all recognize at some level that we can’t fool God, but it is good to be reminded of that often. Sin takes our eyes off of God, twists the truth, and convinces us to think and act very illogically. We may act at times like we think we can fool God, but don’t be tricked. You can’t fool God. Don’t take your eyes off him and assume that he’s taken his eyes off you. That’s not how it works.

God says that “whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” That’s a rule that he has put in place in the natural world, and we are going to see that it is also a rule in place in the spiritual world.

You don’t plant an apple seed to get an orange tree and you don’t plant an bean seed to get peppers. Right from Genesis 1:11 when God created the world up until today, each seed produces fruit according to its kind. It is remarkably consistent. And God is saying that the same is true in the spiritual realm – the seed that is planted will grow and produce fruit according to the seed.

Now at first glance, that may sound a whole lot like the eastern belief of Karma – that the sum total of your actions in this (and supposed previous lives) determines your fate in the future. Cause and effect. But there are some key differences. The concept of karma takes parts of God’s created order – enough to seem somewhat logical but deceives us by leaving out critical details.

Where Karma gets it right is that, if we do evil, we will reap evil in the future. Perhaps not in this life, but certainly in the life to come. Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death. Cause – sin; effect – death; therefore sin = death. So that is true. But Karma also assumes that we can do things that are truly good apart from God at work in us. This is where the concept of karma is very wrong. God’s Word tells us that we were all born in sin and that even our righteous acts are like filthy rags before him (Is. 64:6). No amount of good works will save you or guarantee a future with God. While sin = death, good works ≠ life. Yes, if you buy coffee for someone or help them, you may receive kindness in return, but you won’t receive eternal life from God. Your sin = death and no amount of your goodness outweigh your sin. You need to be so crystal clear on this.

The awesome news is that, through faith in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, we can actually be spared the eternal condemnation that we deserve.

We don’t get what we deserve because Jesus got what he didn’t deserve. That kind of logic doesn’t work with karma. And that’s why the gospel is such good news!

We don’t get what we deserve because Jesus got what he didn’t deserve.

Here is the key that unlocks the phrase, “you reap what you sow”. Without God at work in our lives, without faith in Jesus Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, you have no access to the good seed to sow. You can only sow tainted seed and therefore you can only grow bad fruit. It is a work of God’s grace that we, as Christians, can even begin to sow the right kind of seed.

This, dads, is critical information. If we are going to lead our families and steward our role appropriately there are a few things we need to be crystal clear on. We don’t all need to be brilliant theologians, but we do need to hold clear convictions and communicate them faithfully to our children.

As we train our children, we need to teach them the way God has created the world to work. Most of us are committed to making sure our kids have some common sense, but it’s the uncommon sense – the spiritual truth that we really need to be clear on. Don’t just teach them common sense – teach them uncommon sense.

There are consequences for sin. Be clear on that. The greatest reason to discipline your children in the here and now is to be a warning of the consequences of sin later on. Be clear on what sin is. God defines it pretty objectively in His Word. It’s an offense against him. When you get your kids to apologize, make sure they apologize to God each time too – not just the other person. Be clear that works will not save them. Be clear that Jesus, by his grace, alone can save them. One Christian author has given good instruction for parents in saying “you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish.[1] That’s worth chewing on for a while.

If this sounds complex and complicated, just remember the Christian version of the KISS principle: Keep it simple, steward… Seriously though, our goal is to be crystal clear about the things that matter the most. As dads we need to be clear-headed about how God’s world works.

Second, as we’ll see in verse 8, the wise and godly father looks at the long game. He is thinking not just about today and tomorrow, but about eternity.

Galatians 6:8 says, “For the one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

The “flesh” is a term used often by the Apostle Paul to refer to the sinful human nature. It is not indicating that all things physical are sinful, but it is pointing to the part of our physical nature that is sinful and opposed to the Spirit. The Spirit, here, is capitalized – which means that it is not just referring to our spirit but is referring to the Holy Spirit – the third person of the triune Godhead. The analogy of sowing in this illustration points to the decision to submit your life to something – to plant or build your life on something – either the flesh or The Spirit. “Sowing” to the Spirit reaps eternal life. That’s because surrendering your life to the Holy Spirit by placing your faith in Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Contrasting that is “sowing” to the flesh which reaps corruption. If you submit your life to the sinful nature and allow it to be master, then you will reap eternal separation from God – corruption.

Both of these results – corruption and eternal life – are not fully experienced in this life. There are certainly elements of them in this life – for example, in John 17 Jesus says that eternal life is to know the Father. We know the Father in part now, but we shall fully know him when Jesus returns or we pass on. Similarly, corruption is tasted here in part by the consequences of sin; however, there is still greater consequence in the future for those that don’t turn their lives over to the Spirit.

Right now looks can be deceiving. If you were to line up 100 people who have chosen to follow Jesus and are living for him and 100 people who are living for the flesh – you should not expect them to look the same or for the believers to look like everything is better than the unbeliever. In fact, God reminds us elsewhere that believers will face persecution and difficulty in this life. Yes, we will have more joy if we keep an eternal perspective and think about the long game, but that joy will very likely come from being persecuted not from being liked.

Just last week I was walking down our street one evening, wearing one of the harvest shirts that says “dead to sin, but alive to Christ” on the back in big bold letters. This truck came up behind me and as they drove past they rolled their window down and yelled profanity at me – at first I thought it was directed as someone else, but then no one else was around. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, but then I remembered my shirt. And it was kind of strange feeling, but I actually got kind of excited! I’m actually being persecuted in a small way for claiming the name of Jesus. It’s no fun when someone swears at you for doing something foolish like cutting them off in traffic, but when you meet opposition clearly because you are a Christian – That’s exciting! Acts 5:40-41 describes how the religious leaders treated the early followers of Jesus, “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”

 

Reaping what we sow does not happen overnight. And this is why so many of us get off track. Because delayed gratification is difficult. But make no mistake. In the long run, if you feed your sinful human nature you will certainly reap the consequences.

Looking at Galatians 5:16-24 we get a clear picture of the fruit in this life of either path.

“16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

As fathers, it is important that we first and foremost ensure that we are daily walking by the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh. It starts with us. The greatest gift you can give your family is to get on track with God and submit to the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I am tempted to look at the fruit of the Spirit and try to manufacture them myself. All too often I use unspiritual methods to try to bear spiritual fruit. But as I’ve said before, we don’t grow in the Spirit by feeding the flesh. You don’t grow in true patience when your goal is to proudly say you’ve “arrived.” Pride motivates a whole lot of false fruit so watch out for that, because God isn’t fooled by false fruit. If you want true spiritual fruit, you need to connect to the source – the Holy Spirit.

The same is true when you are working to lead your children to grow in the Spirit. If we don’t daily point them back to Jesus Christ and encourage them grow in their personal relationship with Him – looking to eternity for reward rather than tomorrow –  we are doomed to fail.

Here’s a challenge I will openly admit to. I want the best for my kids. I want them to succeed. I want them to have all the opportunities that I had and more. My default setting is for them to have Jesus AND get the world, not for them to suffer hardships – I don’t want them to be insulted, to miss out on what the world offers – but I need to keep a long term perspective constantly. If I encourage a love for the ways of the world in them then I am directly opposing a love for the Spirit. You CANNOT love the world and God. They are opposed to one another. Am I positioning them for spiritual growth or am I constantly opening them up to the temptations of their sinful nature. Am I helping them to keep their eyes on eternity or on today?

Is my goal to produce a half-hearted Christian or a wholehearted one. An insightful pastor told his son once, “Listen, son.  Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know enough to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy. Be wholehearted for him!”[2]

That’s what we are aiming for. Keeping eternity in perspective as we shape our families for God’s glory.

The final characteristic of a wise and godly father is that

He does the right thing. Over and over and over and over and over.

 

Galatians 6:9-10

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, an especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

I am so encouraged by the men of Harvest. I’ve seen in so many of you exactly what I’ve already described this morning, and for you, the message this morning is not so much about a radical change as much as it is about persisting in what you’ve already been convinced of. Persisting in doing good.

Paul needed to remind the Galatians not to grow weary of doing the right and good thing. And we need the same kind of encouragement.

Paul likely had in mind a few good things specifically when he wrote this – Good things like restoring those caught in sin – see Gal 6:1, bearing each other’s burdens – whether that be physical or emotional – see Gal 6:2, and more generally to walk in the Spirit – see Gal 5:16. His primary focus was, according to 6:10 on doing good for believers – those of the household of faith.

We are called to do these things and not give up. Yesterday’s sowing does not excuse today’s laziness. Don’t grow weary. Keep going. Do the right thing over and over and over and over and over again.

Yesterday’s obedience does not entitle you to some “cheat days”. Don’t settle for that kind of thinking. Today or tomorrow won’t be the days of reward, but today and tomorrow are definitely the days to work. Do the right thing over and over again.

On a very small scale we know this is necessary – I mean how many times do you have to tell your kids to say, “please and thank-you?” or “look someone in the eye when you talk to them”, or “turn off the lights” or “stop arguing”? You tell them over and over again because it’s the right thing to do. Even though you probably have to do it about 60,000 times before you are done. That kind of consistent persistent parenting pays off and the same is true when we consistently persistently do the right thing no matter how small.

Don’t give up. This is worth it! This is why it’s so important to participate with your church family and small group consistently – 1st because it is way too easy to give up when you go solo. We need to stir each other up to good works – cheering each other on and reminding each other of what lies ahead. And 2nd because you can’t actually do good for the household of faith when you don’t see and interact with the household of faith. If you aren’t gathering with believers regularly, you ARE growing wearying of doing good. Dads, you need this, and other men need you.

When I read this passage, the first thing I tend to think about is myself. I ask, “am I growing weary? Am I doing good?” But what if we step back and ask, “are others growing weary?” You may not realize it, but there are other people here today that may not be back ever again because they are weary, exhausted, isolated, lacking vision, and about ready to throw in the towel on this Christian walk thing. Take a look around you. Would you be content if even 1 of the 10 people sitting around you didn’t show up again because they’re weary? I hope the answer is no.

That’s why I was drawn to this passage. My aim is to encourage each one of you here today (specifically fathers) to stick with it faithfully. Don’t give up. I know some of you walk in here week after week and think to yourself. I’m different. I don’t fit in. Things aren’t going well for me. I don’t have what they have. I don’t have it all together (which btw no one here does). You might think, I’m not experiencing joy in the Lord right now. Maybe you’ve thought things like that. God’s encouragement to you is: Don’t give up! Don’t grow weary! Sow to the Spirit not the flesh. There is a reward at the end of this!

I’m not going to pretend you don’t have to work. You were adopted into God’s family by faith alone, but you don’t mature as God’s child without effort enabled by God’s grace. It would be foolish to expect that God will continue the work of transformation without some perspiration.

But perhaps you are here and have not built your life upon the Spirit. You have not placed your faith in Jesus. You haven’t sown any good seed. The message for you is that it’s not too late to start. By God’s grace, you can place your faith in Jesus and be freely forgiven of all sins past present and future. And you can start to do the good works that God has designed you to do. And, by God’s grace, he makes up for all your wasted time running from Him and can make the remainder of your life an incredibly fruitful time for his glory. Your life is never wasted when it’s turned over to God for his glory!

So dads, Galatians gives us a picture of a wise and godly father – one who is clear-headed about the way God’s world works, one who looks at the long game – at eternity, and one who does the right thing over and over and over – enabled by God’s grace.

Let’s pray as we commit ourselves to His glory this week!

[1]Paul David Tripp – 12 Gospel Principles for Parents

[2] Ray Orlund Senior.