Honoring Your Father in Fatherlessland

By Andrea Guachalla

Now we know why we ought to honor our fathers even if they don’t act like it. It is not because of their wrongdoing and not because of their right doing. The reason we honor our fathers in fatherlessland is that the Lord has made them our parents, and He did so for a reason.

Although it might seem complex to take it to practice, you’ll see that it is the Lord who gives you the means, strength, and wisdom to do so. You can start by…

Praying thanks to God. Give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). That includes thanking Him for the father you have. It’s easy to complain when we think we deserve better, but the truth is that we don’t really deserve anything, everything is a gift from God. If our heart is filled with thankfulness there is no room for grumbling.

Whether you have found peace regarding the father you have, or you still struggle with honoring your father because he’s never there for you, or he hurts you in any way, you can still pray thanks to the Lord. You can thank Him because He is gracious and if you ask, He will enable you to honor your father, and learn through the difficulties that come with that.

Obeying. That’s part of our role as sons and daughters: to listen to our father’s instructions and obey. Important note: we obey as far as his instructions are aligned with the Word of God. Even if he is only partially present in your life or almost completely absent, you can probably recall your father instructing you simple things that were for your good: honor those efforts of instruction by obeying them.

It is true that most often you don’t get great life lessons from your father in fatherlessland, but if you look for instructions worthy of being obeyed, you will find something. It could be as simple as following your father’s examples of being punctual or clean up after your messy room. Whatever it is: obey.

Ask for his advice: This can be very challenging, but if you’re ever in touch with your father ask him for advice. Even if it’s for very simple things. That shows him that you value his opinion and you believe he has wisdom to offer.

Now, I know that when you don’t have much contact with your father, you may get a weird look from them when you ask for their advice because they are not used to being asked for their opinion to guide your steps, even in some occasions they might not be open to even try to offer advice of any sort. But just the fact that you are trying sends a very valuable message and whether they are conscious or not about it, he knows: he is being honored.

Don’t talk idle about him. Let me repeat this passage here:

“For God commanded ‘honor your father and your mother’ and ‘he who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death’ ” (Matthew 15:4)

Remember. You don’t want to be put to death. Just kidding! But let’s remember what Philippians 4:8 says: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

We are not to dwell on idleness and wickedness, we are not to expose the sins committed against us, we are not to expose our fathers’ faults and flaws openly to anyone. And I know sometimes it gets hard. We are human beings. We might struggle with finding nice things to say about our ever-absent fathers when we know deep down their true selves. But here you have a few things that are good about your father, I urge you to think about these things:

  1. He was made to God’s image
  2. God gave you life through him
  3. He made you a son or daughter
  4. He enables you to love God by loving him

Take care of him: This is a great way of honoring our fathers even if they never show interest in serving us, not paying evil for evil but loving regardless of their deficiencies (Romans 12:17). As our fathers get older they face different struggles and health issues, and that when (if possible and wise) you can step in and help in any capacity is possible for you. Whether your father accepts your help or not, by the grace of God you are at least trying to honor them by responding to their needs unconditionally.

The last point I want to make about how to honor your father is:

Forgive him: Yes, even if your father never apologizes for what he did or did not do. You can overlook his absence or his wrongdoing and forgive him the same way God did with you. Of course, depending on your particular circumstances and the extent of his wrongdoing, and his character, not always it’s gonna be possible to reconcile and have a normal relationship, especially if your father is unwilling to repent and change. But you can surely forgive in your heart and not hold on to resentment.

None of this is possible in our own strength, but it is possible when we focus on our gracious and loving Savior Jesus Christ. Knowing that He gave His life for us sinners, and enabled us to reconcile with God should be your greatest motivation to show love to your father, who like you, is a sinner in need of God. Let’s remember one more time what God says in 2 Corinthians 6:18:

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters.”

Other sources:

Jeremy Yong. 2018. 5 Ways Grown Children Can Love Their Parents. The Gospel Coalition. Recovered from: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/grown-children-love-parents/

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