Grace Community Church
bible-light-rays.jpg

Sermons

Featured Sermons from Our Pulpit

Godly Fathers in Ungodly Times

Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, June 17, 2018
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter

A Father’s Day Message: “Godly Fathers in Ungodly Times”
Titus 2:1-7

Perhaps you’ve noticed over the past few decades that the characterization of fatherhood has been surreptitiously maligned by segments in our society.  And this is especially true in the arts and entertainment industry.  I recall in times past TV shows like: “Ozzie and Harriet, “My Three Sons” and, of course, who could forget “Father Knows Best.

But even in those days when fathers were portrayed in a ‘positive light’, there was still something peculiar.  Something was array.  Because we rarely, if ever, saw those fathers at their workplace.  Did they even have jobs?  It seemed that Ozzie Nelson was always at home.  Was this the first example of what a ‘cottage industry’ looked like?  But at least in the TV series, “The Life of Riley,William Bendix, who portrayed a blue-collar worker, went off to work each day with that black lunch pail in his hand.

TV sitcoms gradually started depicting fathers as “buffoons” like Archie Bunker in the hit show, “All in the Family,or Al Bundy in “Married with Children.”  Now don’t get me wrong, sarcasm and humor have their place.  But, fatherhood is no laughing matter.  And this is certainly true in the eyes of God.

In the creation account, it says: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth…’” [Genesis 1:26].  Later we’re told: “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became ‘a living being’” [Genesis 2:7].

Yes, man was intended to have dominion over all the earth.  On the earth and below the ground; on the sea and under the sea; and the skies reaching towards the heavens [Genesis 1:28].

Man was endowed by His Creator to be proper stewards over all living things.  No small task!  But, man did not keep his part of the bargain.  He not only failed in this regard, but he proved to be a miserable example of the patriarch of the family.  An institution which God Himself ordained and established [Genesis 2:24].

So, how do you suppose God would grade us in our role as fathers and husbands?  Might we be sent back a grade or two for remedial training?  Mankind has been given every conceivable opportunity to make himself worthy.  But, all too often, we have taken our leadership roles for granted.  You will find few examples in the Bible where there were men who proved themselves to be faithful husbands and loving fathers.

But before delving into this morning’s passage, let’s take a deep breath and breathe in a healthy dose of humor.  After all, laughter is a soothing elixir for what ails us.

Why just the other day I received some heartwarming cards and emails from friends and loved ones.  One read: “I feel so miserable without you.”  And I thought to myself, ‘What a kind thing for someone to say.’  But then the note went on to say, “Why, it’s almost like having you here.” [Attributed to Stephen Bishop].

An old classmate of mine wrote: “Cooper, you have no enemies.”  ‘True enough!’ I said.  But my old chum closed by saying, “…but you are intensely disliked by your friends.” [Attributed to Oscar Wilde].

Finally, I received an email from a former business acquaintance who said: “Some cause happiness wherever they go…”   ‘Yes, I have always tried to brighten up someone’s day.  But then it ended, “…others, however, bring happiness whenever they go!” [attributed to: Oscar Wilde].

In all seriousness, it’s time we take our roles…seriously!  In part, that’s why Paul wrote to his young protégé.  Titus was of Greek ancestry.  Like his counterpart, Timothy, Titus was young and somewhat timid.  Both were mentored by Paul.  And both remained loyal and trusted followers of Paul’s teachings.  Titus first served at the church in Jerusalem.  Later, he became a roving ambassador on Paul’s behalf to the church in Corinth.  Eventually, Titus took over the reins as the spiritual ‘overseer’ of the church on the isle of Crete.

Paul instructed Titus not only teach the scriptures, but to live them.  He used the axiom: Knowledge + Application = Authenticity.  Likewise, we, too, must teach, encourage and even correct whenever it is deemed necessary.  Like Titus, we should not be intimidated when charged with the spiritual oversight in the local church.

Paul begins his letter by focusing on the ‘core beliefs’ of our faith in Christ Jesus.  The apostle warns Titus not to waste time “majoring in minors” by getting bogged down in trivial pursuits.  Stick to the essentials of the Christian faith by accentuate those doctrines pertaining to salvation.

That’s what Paul meant by this phrase, ‘sound doctrine.  This carefully crafted phrase is found only in the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).  Sound meaning “healthy.”  And the word ‘doctrine’ has to do with the truths of God found only in Scripture.

But head knowledge alone is not enough.  One’s character and conduct takes us far beyond what society considers ‘proper decorum’ (having to do with one’s appearance).

Paul spells out what is to be expected by both young and old men alike.  He refers to the older men (age 60 and above) as ‘elders’; not the apostolic office by the same name.  Elderly men should exemplify the moral and spiritual values set forth in God’s Word.  This goes far beyond societal norms or culturally-accepted behavior.

Elderly men were to conduct themselves as the ‘royal priests’ of their respective families.  In the Book of Hebrews, it says: “…every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness…” [Hebrews 5:1, 2].

Senior citizens were expected to be temperate, deliberate in matters of faith and practice.  But, the ‘elders’ on Crete had acquired a sullied reputation for being “lazy gluttons.” [1]

Paul then turns his attention to the young men of Crete where he says,

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified…”  ‘Rough housing’ or ‘abuse’ (physical, emotional, mental) should never be condoned by young or old alike.  Certainly not in the House of God; nor in homes where God is worshipped and glorified.

Young men, those who are prone to act impulsively and hastily, are expected to behave sensibly, reasonably; with temperance and forbearance in both the home and in public.

Although today we’re celebrating ‘Father’s Day, you, women, ‘are not off the hook’!  One’s household should be governed by godly women.  Or, as the old saying goes, “A man might be the head of the household, but the woman turns his neck!”   

Some of the same moral principles outlined here in Titus are also reiterated in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where he addresses both the husband and the wife.  Paul reminds us: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands.”

In virtually every civilized society, both then and now, women have been revered and respected by the men.  They cook.  They clean.  Our women nurture their children.  They heal and bind up our wounds.  They are the first to rise in the morning and the last to go to sleep at night.  In addition, the womenfolk are charged with loving and respecting even the most stubborn of husbands.  One such example was Abigail who was dutiful to her foolish husband, Nabal, which in Hebrew means just that: ‘foolish’ or ‘wicked’.

But the women of Crete apparently didn’t ‘fill the bill’ either!  They indulged in idle gossip which is a most unsavory trait in the eyes of God [Proverbs 6:16-19].  They had a proclivity for drinking wine excessively.  Which suggests these Cretan women had entirely too much time on their hands…idle hands!

Are you getting the drift?  Titus had his hands full!  Because of his youthful exuberance, the older men looked down upon him.  And despite his credentials as a preacher/teacher, he was treated disrespectfully.

But Paul was not about to have these Cretans get away with their ‘comeuppance’!  He set forth these moral precepts so as not to have the Word of God compromised, or de-legitimized.  If their behavior was left unabated, it might well have hindered the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  For just as it says, “God will NOT be mocked” [Galatians 6:7]!  The Church was in no way to accommodate to the ways of the world.  No!  The world must conform to the ways of God.

Men!  Don’t shrivel up and bury your head in the sand.  Life’s too short!  The hour glass is running low of sand!  For far too long, men have cowered in fear.  It’s time for us to ‘Man up’!  Paul Keating, the former Prime Minister of Australia, was not a man to mince words.  In addressing a political opponent, he said disparagingly: “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up!”

So, let us resolve anew to assume our rightful place in the home and in the church.  Let’s be the faithful husband to our wives, and the loving father of our children!  By God’s grace, let us endeavor to be the Man God created us to be!

Let us pray…

[1]     Kenneth Barker, General Editor,  The NIV Study Bible  (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers,  1985)  pg. 1852.

Grace Community Church