A Parents Job
"Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth." (Psalm 127:3-4)
Almost 22 years ago my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our first child. Two years later, our second "blessing" came along. I think about the years since that time, and how richly blessed my wife and I have been to have our children as part of our lives. They are a great joy to us.
But I think also about the responsibility that has been mine as a parent. Children are a reflection of their upbringing. Gods word says they are "arrows in the hand of a mighty man". If these "arrows" hit the desired mark, they must be properly aimed. This is the parents job. For parents to rely on the school, church or any one else to provide the necessary guidance for their children is to relinquish responsibilities commanded them of God. (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4)
But this brings up another consideration. Just what exactly is the desired goal you have for your children? Unfortunately, the objectives many parents have are entirely worldly. They want their kids to have all the things they didnt have. But is this for the benefit of our children that they are lavished with material things? Does this truly have the best interest of our children at heart? What about the necessary moral and spiritual values they should be taught? Jesus said if we can have the "whole world" (financial security, good education, achievements in sports, wealth, etc.), it still is of no profit if we/our children lose their soul? (Matthew 16:26) Would you put a price tag on the soul of your child? You may not consider yourself guilty of child abuse, but if you are teaching your children that what matters the most in life are the things of this world, you are abusing your children is the worst possible way, for it concerns their souls eternal destiny.
Its not surprising when unbelievers set such trivial goals for their children. However, its appalling when those who profess to be Christians do so, setting up their children to be worldly successes and, at the same time, spiritual failures. Do we dare presume that we can stand in Judgment and such dereliction of parental duties go unnoticed by the all-seeing eye of God? (Eccl. 12:14; 2 Cor. 5:10)
Another contributing factor to this problem is spiritually divided homes. Unbelievers, even though they love their children, will not usually have spiritual goals set for them; its not important to them. Duty to Christ and service in His church are not meaningful objectives in their view of personal/family life. In a marriage where one spouse is a Christian and the other is not, conflicts can arise over the spiritual training of their children, leaving the believer in such situations to carry the burden of responsibility alone. Christians must be strong in such situations, for the sake of their own souls as well as their childrens. While I have seen some Christians in this circumstance faithfully committed to bringing up their children in the way they should go, I have also observed more who are swayed by the influence of their worldly mate to spiritual compromise. Becoming friendly with the world (its values and pursuits) displeases God (James 4:4). Therefore, wisdom dictates careful and prayerful deliberation of these matters, before one marries. Souls are at stake.
A key for success in rearing our children to be Christians is for parents to first be converted to Christ themselves. We will be little effective in helping our kids to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33), if were not doing so ourselves. This isnt something one can fake; our children will see through our religious pretense and see us as we really are. Moses gave this command to Israelite parents: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart (emphasis mine, DR), and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up." (Deut. 6:6-7) The Psalmist describes one having Gods word in his heart (the "blessed" man) with these words, "...his delight is in the law of Jehovah, and on his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:2) If Gods law is in our hearts, it will wield a powerful influence on ourselves and our children.
If we parents are not faithful examples of commitment to Christ, should we be surprised when our children grow up disinterested in God, Christ, the Bible, the church, prayer, gospel preaching, etc.? For example, if children are allowed to put school activities (i.e., athletics, plays, social functions, etc.), before Wednesday evening Bible study, they are merely reflecting the worldliness of their parents! Schools should be informed of ones religious convictions, and in my experience, they are willing (most of the time) to make allowances so spiritual obligations may be met. In times past, schools would never schedule an activity on a Sunday or Wednesday night out of respect for ones religious assemblies. But, with the general decline in spiritual interest, along with the steady increase in extra-curricular activities schools make available, many events are planned to conflict with worship services. Whats a faithful Christian to do? What will he allow his children to do? Read Matthew 6:33 again for Jesus answer. What our children really need, more than popularity in school, are parents who have the spiritual/moral courage to stand up for whats right against the onslaughts of this world. This is fighting "the good fight". (2 Tim. 4:7)
All parents (myself included) need to think more soberly about being responsible, godly parents. Its an awesome responsibility with far-reaching repercussions. The best thing we can give our children is a spiritual heritage, where they are being taught to remember their Creator in their youth (Eccl. 12:1), with the positive re-enforcement of our faithful example. Study the Bible and pray with your children at home. Take them faithfully to the worship services and Bible classes of the Lords church. And show them that serving God means having the conviction to put God first in the daily choices we make. Such upbringing will provide a sure foundation upon which they can build their lives and prepare for eternity (Matt. 7:24-27). God give us Christian homes, with parents who can shoot their "arrows" straight.
By Dan Richardson
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