When you imagine a loving father, what comes to mind? Maybe you had a great father, so you picture him. Maybe you didn’t and you picture the father of a friend or a character from a television show. No matter what you picture as a loving father, here on earth there’s no such thing as a perfect father because no human being is perfect. The only perfect father is God the Father and he wants to have a relationship with each one of us. While there are many things that make God a perfect Father, I want to focus on three qualities that I feel are very important.
Whether or not we’ve ever felt the love of an earthly father, there’s a heavenly Father who loves us all beyond measure. He has created us and he delights in us – “the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)
1 John 4 is all about a God who loves us. Verses 9 and 10 say, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Verse 16 says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
Maybe you had a father who was a disciplinarian and that has affected the way you view God. Unfortunately, people often have the idea that God is a judgmental ruler who exists to punish us for every little thing we do wrong. This is a very skewed and inaccurate concept of God the Father. But even though God isn’t looking to strike us with lightning every time we do something wrong, he does want to correct us and make us better. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
A loving earthly father wouldn’t allow his children to do things that weren’t good for them, right? So how much more our perfect Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to remain trapped in behaviors or attitudes that will ultimately do us harm. That being said, He doesn’t do this to condemn us or to make us feel horrible about ourselves – He does it for our benefit! This is where He shows his love, grace, and mercy to us by guiding us and leading us into becoming the people He made us to be, and ultimately more like Him. His love doesn’t come with conditions or requirements – it’s perfect, unconditional, pure love.
When I use the word providing, your mind may automatically go to finances. Both my mom and dad worked when I was growing up to contribute financially to our household. But with God, while he certainly can provide for you financially, he provides so much more. He’s provided me with guidance in making decisions, friends and family who support and love me, peace in hard times, and I could go on and on.
There are many occasions in the Bible where God provided for the needs of His people. In the book of Exodus we read about how he provided manna and quail when the Israelites were on their journey through the desert to the promised land. In Genesis 22 he provided an animal to sacrifice instead of Abraham having to sacrifice his son, Isaac. In the New Testament, Paul credits God with providing for him on his journeys – “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Take note that it says he will supply all your needs, not wants. Part of being a perfect, loving Father is not giving us what we want when he knows what is ultimately best for us.
No matter what kind of father you have or had here on earth, I pray that you would grow in your relationship with your Heavenly Father this week and accept his perfect love for you.