Parents to Children
"Just wait till your father gets home!" That phrase begets an absolute
solidifying fear. No child who has ever heard those words in context
has failed to feel their heart palpitate and hands sweat. The very
wording and structure of the sentence has been carefully crafted by
generations of mothers and I'm moderately certain it's proper use and
intonation is passed on from mother to daughter in secret ceremonies we
men know nothing about.
What's even more striking is that it is- in some degrees the reflection
of the biblical mandate for men to be the Christ centered foundation of
moral guidance and righteous judgment in the household. The image of
the man sitting idly by on the couch while mom tries to deal with
unruly children is a travesty of righteousness and a declaration of
either immature masculinity, or overbearing femininity or both.
That doesnâ€™t mean that mom is not supposed to discipline, she must,
not for mere survival, but because God has granted her the role of
raising children and discipline is part and parcel of that. The very
fact that God would entrust the most delicate and easily moldable minds
on the planet primarily into momâ€™s tender care should immediately
dispel the rumor that the Bible somehow teaches that women are
intellectually inferior to men. The Bible teaches nothing of the sort.
Sadly todayâ€™s society has treated raising children as a necessary
evil rather than a rewarding task. But a number of passages challenge
that notion. Start with Godâ€™s command in the garden to â€œBe fruitful
and multiplyâ€; move forward to Proverbs â€œChildren are an heritage
from the lord blessed be the man whoâ€™s quiver is full of them.â€ And
listen to Jesus rebuke his disciples by saying, â€œLet the little
children come to me and do not hinder themâ€¦â€ In three verses
youâ€™re face to face with Godâ€™s love of children, and with that we
begin to comprehend how important our task of raising them is.
Now, everyone here hasnâ€™t got children in the house but that
doesnâ€™t mean you should ignore this message. First of all we live in
community and in community we need to learn how to best help one
another. Second, we are the oneâ€™s that have the responsibility of
winning disciples to Christ and teaching them to obey all that Christ
commanded. And we canâ€™t teach it, if we donâ€™t know it.
So how should a faithful set of parents function towards their
children? What does it take to be a godly parent? How do we go about
raising children in a godless society? The answers are in the
scriptures because the scriptures were written to and for a people
living in a godless world trying themselves to do that very same
So let me give you three principles to live by in terms of the
functioning relationship of parents towards their children. And it
starts with putting God First in your family.
Teach Them The Love Of The Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-ff)
came time for God to lay the groundwork for a nation of people
dedicated to him, he gave them two commands. The first one is the guide
from which all the other commandments originate. (Deuteronomy 6:5,
NASB95) â€œYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your might.â€
The Second command is the conduit by which that command was to be
disseminated from person to person and more importantly, from
Generation to Generation. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9, NASB95) â€œYou shall
teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit
in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and
when you rise up. â€œYou shall bind them as a sign on your hand and
they shall be as frontals on your forehead. â€œYou shall write them on
the doorposts of your house and on your gates.â€
Training towards faith in Jesus. Itâ€™s a mistake for parents to sit on
the sidelines and not influence their child towards Christ. Most of the
people that Iâ€™ve spoken with that have this attitude – have gotten
there because they hated going to church as a kid and they donâ€™t want
to â€œRam religion down their kidâ€™s throatâ€ But children are not
inherently capable of making decisions about anything until they learn
their parentâ€™s decision making standards. Therefore if we sit idly by
waiting for them to choose Christ – they will interpret our silence on
the issue as ambivalence and that ambivalence translates into a
tendency away from faith rather than towards it.
There are many different filters we can press the old testament
through. Such as the filter of legalism in which the Old Testament is
seen as a collection of rules that Israel couldnâ€™t keep. We can pass
it through the filter of Grace in which we see God continually
withholding deserved punishment in hopes of Israelâ€™s repentance until
even Godâ€™s patience was exhausted.
Or we can see the old testament through the filter of failed parenting.
The primary themes of the old testament such as the repeated idolatry
of Israel, the need to send repeated prophets, and finally the
judgments on Israel and Judah for her idolatry are the main story lines
from all of the prophets, a large percentage of the psalms, most of the
books of 1st and second kings and chronicles. And they all stem from
(Judges 2:7) "The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and
all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the
great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. " (NASB95)
(Judges 2:10) "All that generation also were gathered to their fathers;
and there arose another generation after them who did not know the
Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." (NASB95)
If Those parents, and each successive generation had been about the
business of obeying Deuteronomy 6, it would be safe to say that the old
testament would be a different read indeed.
There is no more sacred duty for parents than passing on the faith, and
the nurturing of faithfulness. Thatâ€™s what Paul means in Ephesians
6:4 by (Ephesians 6:4) "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. "
On top of nurturing their faithfulness towards God, our task as parents
Discipline with Love.
Ephesians 6:1-2 should make it clear
that parents should expect obedience from their children. And a lack of
obedience should beget appropriate discipline.
Hebrews 12:7-10 is written to encourage us when God disciplines us and
in order to achieve that it uses the assumed reality that good fathers
discipline their children with the goal of crafting right behavior in
(Hebrews 12:7-10) "â€¦God deals with you as with sons; for what son is
there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without
discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are
illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers
to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be
subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for
a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our
good, so that we may share His holiness. " (NASB95)
The simple phrase â€œAs seemed best to themâ€ expresses our
fallibility as parents but doesnâ€™t excuse it. I have a feeling
thatâ€™s why Paul includes the exhortation to fathers in Ephesians 6:4
â€œFathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in
the discipline and instruction of the Lord.â€ (NASB95) both ends of a
narrow spectrum are in view there.
As parents we either have the power to frustrate our children by
failing to bring them up in godliness or to bring them up in godliness.
Connected to that idea – and knowing that itâ€™s a long hard road the
third principle is simply this:
Keep the Goal in Mind
Raising children is an issue of
stewardship. Everything we do, teach and say is a building block
helping children to grow into godly adults, or a hammer breaking them
down. Discipline is never intended for destruction – only correction.
There is no greater purpose in raising children than creating Godly
God designed the family to be more than the building block of society.
He designed the family to be the crucial environment for passing the
love and obedience to God from one generation to the next.
Ideally, Jesus Christ would be the center of every home, and the home
the center of everything else. We who are children of our heavenly
father should make every effort to make our homes into godly homes;
into faithful families that function in Godliness.