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Fathers and What Is Best

Bill Cosby insists Mother's Day is a much bigger deal than Father's Day. All because Mothers are more organized. He said that mothers say to their children: "Here is a list of what I want. Go get the money from your father and you surprise me on Mother's Day. You do that for me." Cosby went on to explain, "For Father's Day I give each of my kids $20 so that they can go out and buy me a present — a total of $100. They go to the store and buy two packages of underwear, each of which costs $5 and contains three shorts. They tear them open and each kid wraps up one pair, the sixth goes to the Salvation Army. Therefore, on Father's Day I am walking around with new underwear and my kids are walking around with $90 worth of my change in their pockets." Cosby's funny take on fatherhood reminds us of a very serious point: real fatherhood always comes at a cost. Not every father understands that. A preacher told about a young father who pointed at his infant son and said, "There goes my chance for ever having a boat. Soon as I get the hospital bill paid, he'll need braces, and by the time I get those paid for he'll want a car. When it's paid for, it'll be time for college. By then, I'll be too old to want a boat." A sad story, but it presses home a vital point: giving is not an option for a man who would be a real dad.

The truth is many modem fathers (and mothers) are able to afford a boat for themselves along with braces and a car and college for the kids (and a boatload of other things like cell phones, PC's, I-pods, DVD players, TV's, etc.). The majority of young people in modem America enjoy material benefits and luxuries their counterparts from past generations could not have dreamed of. Many from the past few generations of American parents declared it their goal to "see to it my kids have the things I didn't." And now they do. But the point is not to make dad (or mom) feel bad for being good to their kids. The point is to remind us the best things we can give our children still can't be bought with money. We may give them a lot of good things but fail to give them the best things. Thousands of years ago, King Solomon, a man with enough money to give his kids any material thing on earth, declared, "Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatredBetter is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of feasting with strife (Proverbs 15:16-17; 17:1). Don't miss that word "better" (used 3 times in these 3 verses). There is nothing wrong with great treasure and a fatted calf and a house full of feasting. But Solomon says there is something better. It is good if dad can provide a beautiful house — it is better to give a good home. It is good to give a nice car and clothes — but it is better if dad leads them to Christ. It is good when father can provide fun — but far better if he also gives his children faith. It is good when a dad can give his children money — it is even better if he gives them a high moral code. It is a question every father should keep on his heart: as I strive to give my children good things, am I also giving them what is best?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ