As Father’s Day approaches, families prepare to honor their fathers. For me, as a father, it is a time to reflect on the meaning of fatherhood. The Apostle Paul’s observation about fathering in 1 Thessalonians 2 is a good place to start.
Paul observes that he had been like a father both by example and his instruction. As for his example, both the Thessalonians and God were witnesses of how holy, righteous and blameless he had been toward them.
Holy refers to him in relationship to God; he was a devout, pious man, intent on pleasing God. Our families must see the integrity of walking with God. We will sin, but they must see a Dad who walks with integrity and deals with sin before God and before them.
Righteous refers to him in relationship to others. In dealings with others he was circumspect, ethical and principled.
Blameless refers to his public reputation; he was exemplary, virtuous and unimpeachable. People in the community could observe him as a man of virtue.
One of the take-aways here for dads is that Paul saw his example as part of being a father. He took the example he set so seriously that he could summarize for them these qualities of fatherhood. He self-consciously reflected these father-like qualities.
He works that out even more fully in verse 11. In this verse Paul is describing himself as a responsible father-figure to his spiritual children. He is there for each of them.
For you know we dealt with each of you…
Encouraging you – the word means coming alongside, to admonish and inspire, to motivate and stimulate, especially to follow his example.
Comforting you – providing sympathy, solace, reassurance, encouragement, support and cheer.
Urging you – this carries the connotation of coaxing, prodding, exhorting, goading even exciting his children to what is good.
Notice here the end of these three activities. He is not just motivating them to external behavior, but to the character of God—to be like God.
Of course, there was only one Son who ever had a Father this good. His Father give up his Son so that you and I could be fathers worthy to be called father to our children.
In His grace you and I can be the Fathers we are called to be.