With great excitement and anticipation, the young parents-to-be opened the book of names hoping one would leap out at them. They didn't have to look far before the meaning of a name captured their attention. After considering the entire list of names, their hearts were settled. They would call their first daughter, Abby, source of her father's delight. The name is significant because it expresses the great pleasure a father has in his first child. What is the source of the father's pleasure? It is hearing his child call him, "Abba", which means father.
Men who have the heavenly Father's Heart love their children. The heart of a father swells with pride and joy when one of his children wants his attention or needs his protection or care. A father delights as a child launches into his arms, bear-hugs his neck, and enjoys his affection and care. When his son offers first-time obedience, thanks him for teaching him a new skill, and honors him by calling him, "Sir", a father feels greatly blessed. A young daughter's cuddling up with dad on the couch as he watches a game, a teen-age girl asking him for advice, and a beautiful bride-to-be anchored onto her daddy's arm as they walk down the aisle deeply touch the heart of a father. Why? I think it's because God wants fathers to relate to His heart for His children.
The importance of the relationship between fathers and their children hasn't been missed even by the secular culture. The father/child theme is a popular theme in literature and screenplay. Authors often capitalize on the emotional impact of the resolution of a conflict between a dad and his child. Portraying the relationship between a father and his son or daughter is a surefire way to draw the emotions of the readers or audience into a story. Everyone can relate. They have all been powerfully affected by their fathers, both negatively and positively. Very few things a father does have more impact on his children than expressing his delight and pleasure in them.
A father's pleasure in his child is a shadow of a powerful spiritual reality. The almighty God has revealed to mankind that He is The Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. The gospels repeatedly record the interaction between The Father and The Son so we might know how the Father and Son love and relate to each other and of the heavenly Father's delight in His Son.
The Father is pleased with the Son!
Reading the Scripture below, one can't help seeing what captures the heart of the God of creation. He delights in His Son! His disciples wrote of what they heard and observed.
Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased" (Luke 3:21-22).
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him" (Matthew 17:5)!
"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel (John 5:20).
God provided Himself another testimony of the Father's delight in His Son through the Apostle Paul. He was an enemy of Jesus Christ who was converted, transformed, discipled, and sent as another witness of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised to find the relationship between the Father, God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, to be a central theme in his letters. His letter to the Colossians is a powerful testimony of the Father's pleasure in His Son, Jesus. He explicitly stated the heart, will, and pleasure of God, the Father.
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—(Col. 1:18-22).
Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will (Col. 1:9), and then unpacked what the Father's will is, namely, that the Father's pleasure is in His Son. It pleased the Father to create everything through and for Jesus (1:15-16), to sustain everything through Him (1:17), give Him as head of the body (1:18) so that Jesus would come to have first place in everything in our lives. He did this because it was His pleasure to do so. What most pleases the Father, God, is that all creation be reconciled and men and women find their fullness (happiness and contentment) in His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul also wrote that it pleased the Father to hide "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (2:3) in Jesus so we would discover that our "life is hidden with Christ in God (3:3). Jesus, the Son of God, is the source of the Father, God's delight.
Are you filled with the knowledge that Jesus is the source of the Father's pleasure?
According to the Apostle Paul's prayer for the Colossians, which he prayed often, being filled with the knowledge that Jesus is the source of the Father's pleasure is the only way a person can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, and being strengthened with His power for the attaining of all steadfastness in his or her walk (Col. 1:10-11). To be a Father-pleaser, one must be filled with the knowledge of what pleases the Father, God. Without such knowledge filling them to overflowing, the child of God cannot please the Father.
The Scriptures also reveal that God isn't pleased with man's efforts at righteousness. Instead, He is pleased with the person who relies on Jesus' righteousness as his or her confidence before God. The Father isn't impressed with the performance of religious traditions, rules, standards, and judgments if it isn't motivated by a relationship with His Son. The life and love of His Son expressed through rescued, reconciled, redeemed, forgiven, men and women thrill Him infinitely. The Father's response to His Son's life in us is our inheritance as sons of God and members of the body of Christ. We can expect Him to pour out on believers the very same love He has for His Son, Jesus, as they find their fullness in the Father's pleasure–Jesus Christ.
If you are filled with the knowledge that God, your Father, is pleased when you find your fullness in His Son, Jesus, you will live to make much of Him in everything you do at home, work, church, and in the world. The pressing desire when you rise each day will be, "I will find my life in Jesus today." As you go through your day, you'll know the Father's pleasure as you express your relationship with Christ, and His pleasure fills your soul with wisdom, love, joy, and satisfaction. I encourage you to meditate on this wonderful life-changing truth. The heavenly Father delights in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus in you is the source of the Father's pleasure in you.
True children of God, who are Father-pleasers, understand their heavenly Father delights in them as they are transformed from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that emanates from the Father and the Son. With the Apostle Paul they declare, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). Father-pleasers desire holiness, union with Jesus Christ, so they can delight their Father in heaven. Out of their relationship with Christ they walk in a manner worthy of Christ, so He can get the glory in their lives and so they can experience the joy of the Father and the Son.
Parents who are Father-pleasers want their children to experience the same joy of the Father and the Son. They want them to be transformed from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit so the life of Jesus Christ can bring pleasure to the Father. With the Apostle Paul they pray, "May they be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" (Col. 1:9-10). What is the knowledge of God's will that they want their children to be filled with by the power of the Spirit? It is the Father's pleasure that all the fullness dwell in Jesus and that He come to have first place in everything (Col. 1:18-19).
Therefore, these Father-pleasing parents repeatedly point their children to God's working through Jesus Christ and all that God did through Him as their fullness in life and the reason for their holiness of life. In the early child-training years, parents should seek to give their children a positive moral conscience by teaching them the foundational reasons for their behavior - love for others which expresses itself in honor, respect, and kindness to all people. Ways to express these virtues must be taught and obedience expected in the early years.
However, as children grow older, parents should explain that the moral training is merely preparation for a spiritual transformation, from the inside-out, which will result in loving through a relationship with Jesus and that's what ultimately pleases God. The reason they will do what they do is because of the life of Jesus in them of which the Scriptures testify in the gospels and letters of the New Testament. Children of Father-pleasers need to see integrity, a consistency of witness in the Scriptures and in their parents' lives that powerfully testifies to the reality of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They watch to see if you are being changed by the power of your relationship with Christ. Such parenting provides a strong moral, spiritual environment for the children. Their consciences will be shaped by a spiritual morality based on Scripture and relationship in contrast with a morality based on gaining the pleasure and acceptance of men.
Furthermore, parents who long to bring pleasure to the heavenly Father also continually hold out hope to their children–the hope that the Father will also work in their lives through His Son, Jesus Christ. They want their children to know that as they seek to know God, the Father, through knowing Jesus Christ, that the Father will reveal the glory of the person of Jesus Christ to them. There's a confidence that comes from knowing that the Father delights in His Son, and that they are seeking to know the Son. Both parents and children can expect the Father to be faithful to His Son in their lives as they seek Him.
What I've said about parents also characterizes pastors and shepherds of the body of Christ who are Father-pleasers. Their emphasis with the flock isn't leading them to comply or conform to the traditions and commandments of men to obtain a good reputation. This would be the ministry of men-pleasers and what Paul called, "self-made religion" (Col. 2:23). Knowing that the heavenly Father's delight is in the work of His Son, Father-pleasers make much of Jesus in their preaching and counseling. They maintain a firm reliance on the revelation of God in the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about life-transformation in His body.
Rejoice with the Father and the Son!
If you believe in Jesus Christ as God's provision for your righteousness and that He became sin for you that you might become a child of God, then I invite you to rejoice with the Father and the Son for what they have accomplished on your behalf! You and I have the blessed privilege of entering into their joy as we recognize what God has done for us through Jesus. I encourage you to read Colossians 1:12-23 this week and worship God because of the honor and glory He has bestowed on His Son, Jesus Christ. Lead your family to come up with a list of what God has done through Jesus. Underscore for them that when God worked through His Son, He bestowed honor and glory on Him. Then help them make this connection: God still honors and glorifies His Son as He works in your lives transforming you by the power of the life of Christ in you. It is the Father's good pleasure that all the fullness we experience come from His Son, Jesus Christ.
• The fullness of the heavenly Father's delight is entirely in His Son and His work.
• The person who desires to please the heavenly Father will rely entirely on the righteousness and substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ as his or her confidence with God.
• The person who desires to please the heavenly Father, will make much of God's Son, Jesus Christ, in everything he or she does.
• The person who thinks God takes pleasure in and will reward his or her good works in addition to faith in Christ misunderstands what pleases the heavenly Father.
• God is only pleased with the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in one's life (Jesus' life within) and takes no pleasure in one's conformity to righteousness motivated out of fear, pride, or desire to obtain a good reputation.
• Father-pleasing parents will lead their children to understand that outward conformity is preparation for inward transformation by the power and revelation of God regarding His Son. The aim of all parenting is to lead children to a personal encounter and reliance upon the indwelling life of Jesus Christ working in them.