Grace For The Journey
This morning I want to continue on the subject of parenting. The importance of this issue is obvious to those who are busy rearing their children, but is also important for everyone else too. Why? Primarily because . . .
If we can understand what the Lord
Wants us to teach our children,
We will also understand what
The Lord wants in our own lives.
And to remind us that everyone
Has some affect upon children.
That may be through either direct involvement
Or the indirect involvement of your example.
How you live does have an affect upon other people,
And children are the ones who are most easily influenced by that.
Over the past two blogs I have sought to lay out some foundational principles concerning parenting. Two days ago I stressed parental responsibility. We live in a society that tries to shift responsibility for the care and the outcome of raising children. However, God’s commands concerning bringing up children are given to the parents, not the government, school district, counselors, doctors, or church workers. Other people can help, but the responsibility belongs to the parents to direct their care and to make sure the Lord’s commands concerning them are carried out. While Ezekiel 18:20 makes it clear that parents cannot be responsible for the sins of their children, nor the children for the sins of the parents, it also makes it clear that each is responsible for their own sins. The child will be affected by the sins of the parents, but each bears the responsibility of their own sins. The solution for the guilt that comes with sin and failure is repentance, confession, and forgiveness, not shifting the blame.
Godly people will diligently strive to carry out the Lord’s commandments while being humble to seek godly counsel and freely admitting failures and seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. They are also careful of their example knowing that it will influence others and especially children. Since God requires children to obey their parents, godly parents will teach their children to obey the first time, right away and without complaint or agruing lest they teach their children to sin in behavior or attitude.
Yesterday, we examined some additional general principles of parenting arising out of Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4. There are both prohibitions and prescriptions for parents. Parents are to avoid provoking their children to anger or exasperating them and causing them to lose heart. There are quite a few things parents need to be careful about or they will affect their children in those ways. These would include such practices as physical or verbal abuse, being inconsistent, selfishness, favoritism, excessive expectations, discouragement, and using affection to manipulate.
On the positive side, parents are to be careful to bring up their children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. As described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, parents are to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul and might and then diligently teach their children the ways of the Lord by talking about Him and His commands in all the various situations of life – when you sit in your house, walk by the way, lie down and rise up. Parents are to set into the minds of their children how to walk with God and other people. Wise parents will use the Scriptures extensively to accomplish this because according to 2 Timothy 2:7 the Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Use the Word of God to teach your children the path of life, to reprove them when they get off that path, to correct them back to the path and instruct them on how to stay on the path.
That is what I want to concentrate on this morning . . .
Using the Word of God to help
Your children walk the path of life.
Before I get to those specific Bible passages, let me quickly remind you of the two primary goals in parenting . . .
As much as I would like to say that it is to raise Christian sons and daughters, the reality is that you cannot save your children. That must be the work of the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin, righteousness, and judgment so that they may personally repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. However . . .
You can and are to lay the foundation
For this work of the Holy Spirit,
And you will do so if you follow
God’s commands concerning them.
As we have already seen from Deuteronomy 6, it is your first goal is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might and to diligently teach your children the commandments of the Lord by talking about them in all the various situations of life. When you “sit in your house and when you walk by the way” encompass the daily activities of life. What are you doing when you “sit in your house” – having a meal, reading, playing a game, being entertained? When you “walk by the way” encompasses all the activities when you are away from home since you have to travel to them. When you “lie down” refers to this being the last thing you are doing before you fall asleep. When you “rise up” refers to this being done from when you first get up in the morning. In all your activities and in all your waking hours you are to be looking for, creating, and taking advantage of opportunities to teach your children about God and what He desires and requires in all the subjects that come up in the course of life.
So then . . .
While the first and foremost desire of Christian parents
Is that their children will also become genuine Christians,
Your actual primary goal can only be to teach them
All about God, what He is like, what He has done
And what He commands while modeling this
Supreme love for God in your own life.
That goal can only be accomplished by being diligent to teach them throughout the course of daily life. Then by praying fervently that the Lord will draw your children to Himself and save them.
The next great goal of parenting should be true for all parents, Christian and non-Christian alike, and it is complimentary to the primary goal of Christian parents. That is that your children will grow up to be wise adults. This is the purpose of the book of Proverbs and why we will spend the rest of our time there this morning.
Proverbs 1:2-6 states its purpose, “To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.”
Wisdom, Its Origins & Attainment
The first questions that arise are what is wisdom, its origin, and how can it be attained? The answer to those two later questions results in very different understandings of what is wise.
The Hebrew word for “wisdom” (chokmah) has a root meaning “of skill” and refers to the ability to skillfully apply knowledge.” The Greek word for “wisdom” (sofiva / sophia) is similar in meaning. A wise craftsman such as a carpenter knows all about his craft and can skillful apply that knowledge to create and build something useful and of high quality.
A man who is wise about life
Skillfully applies his knowledge
Of it to make choices that
Will result in fulfilling the
Purpose and meaning of life.
It is the differences in what is thought about the purpose and meaning in life that separate godly wisdom from worldly wisdom. This point is crucial to understand in parenting, for it takes you back to your goal in parenting. Too many Christian parents have raised or are raising foolish children because they are following the wisdom of the world to fulfill the wrong goal.
Paul brings out the contrast between the worldly wise and the godly wise in 1 Corinthians 1. The Corinthians, being Greeks, were of course enamored with Greek philosophy which by its very human nature is contrary to God’s revelation. Paul had run into this much earlier on his second missionary journey when he was asked to speak to the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens. They listened until he brought up the major emphasis of the gospel that God had raised Jesus from the dead. At that point most of them began to sneer at Paul and only a few followed Paul to find out more and came to believe. For the most part the Corinthian people responded in a similar manner considering the word of the cross to be foolishness, but to those being saved it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24). Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:14 in verse 19 that God would destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever. Paul then begins to contrast worldly wisdom and godly wisdom in verses 20-31, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
In raising your children,
You will have to decide
Whether it will be according
To the wisdom of this world
According to the wisdom of God.
If your goal for your children is worldly success – material wealth, fame, power and pleasure – then you will raise them accordingly and reject what the Word of God teaches for its definition of success is the opposite – contentment, being humble, meekness and servant-hood.
The goal of worldly wisdom
Is man’s glory and
Fulfilling human desire.
The goal of godly wisdom
Is God’s glory
And fulfilling His will.
With that in mind, what is the origin of wisdom? The answer is giving in Proverbs … Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. And Proverbs 15:33 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor [comes] humility.”
It all begins with a proper and healthy fear of the Lord. Your children must learn about God, His character, His works, His authority, as well as His commandments. They need to know that God created them and will hold them accountable to keep His commandments, and it is this fear of the Lord (a reverence and respect toward that leads us to respond to Him as we should) that will keep them away from evil (Proverbs 16:6) and in fact cause them to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13). The fear of the Lord also prolongs life (Proverbs 10:27) and gives a strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26).
How then can wisdom be attained? Proverbs 2:1-8 answers that question, “My son, if you will receive my sayings, And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord, And discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth [come] knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; [He is] a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.”
You must seek wisdom like you would silver, but it is the Lord that gives it. And though you are to search for wisdom as for hidden treasure, that only describes the strength of desire you are to have to gain wisdom for wisdom is not hidden. Proverbs 1:20; 8:1, and 9:3 all personify wisdom and portray her as shouting in the streets and calling out to the naive to turn aside and learn from her. Wisdom is available and attainable to all that will hear and heed, but few are those that will. Most men think they can get by just fine or even better by their own intelligence. They refuse wisdom’s call, neglect her counsel, and reject her reproof because they do not choose the fear of the Lord and so hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:24-30). Parents . . .
Be diligent to
Teach your children
The fear of the Lord
To seek after the wisdom
That comes from Him.
If they grow up to walk in foolishness, you can be sure it is because they have rejected wisdom and not because teaching it to them was neglected.
It is important that we consider three traits of immaturity that children need to trained to overcome . . .
Childishness, Foolishness, and Correction.
Since we all come into this world as sinners (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12), the major task of parenting is dealing with the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of a child while directing them toward wisdom. Keep in mind that foolishness and childishness are very different from each other.
Childishness is inability due to ignorance and lack of physical ability. A toddler spills his cup because it is difficult for him to hold it. A child strikes out because it takes practice to develop hand – eye coordination to hit the ball. A young child that reaches for a hot pan is curious and does not yet know it is dangerous. A math student gets the problem wrong the first time because he does not understand the concepts yet. Childishness is overcome by teaching them knowledge and helping them gain the necessary physical strength and coordination. It is never appropriate to punish for childishness. You continue to teach and warn as well as encourage and help them gain the knowledge, strength and skills needed.
Foolishness is the rebellion that is in the heart that prods him/her to do things his own way regardless of instructions and warnings received. A toddler that is told to stop playing with his cup, but then continues to do so and spills it is foolish. A child that strikes out because he refuses to hold the bat as instructed by the coach is foolish. A child that is warned about the danger of a hot pan and still tries to grab it is foolish. A student that fails the math test because they refused to do the homework that would have enabled them to master the needed concepts is foolish. The consequences for foolishness will include correction and some form of punishment.
Correction. For young children, the foolishness is generally going to be exhibited by outward actions. The major task is to bring their behavior into obedience to the parents or other authorities. This is largely done through verbal correction and physical chastisement. Proverbs has a lot to say on this issue starting with Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” I am well aware that many psychologists reject such physical discipline, but that is precisely the point at which you have to decide if you will follow God’s wisdom or worldly wisdom. Proverbs 13:24 states, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 19:18 adds, “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.” To withhold the proper discipline is to hate your child for it leaves him on the path that leads to death. Proverbs 20:20 states, “He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.” Proverbs 20:17 declares, “The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.”
I want to remind you that you are never to discipline your children in anger for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19). Calm down and make sure of your reasons for chastening and that you do it properly. The discipline also needs to be related to and appropriate to the offense considering factors such as the child’s age, general behavior, frequency of the offense, and the particular circumstances. It is appropriate to slap their hand if it is a hand offense – common among very young children. It progresses to a slap on the thigh and then chastisement on the buttocks with an appropriate instrument – something firm, but flexible and not something rigid like a wooden spoon or paddle. Why? Simply because the goal is to cause a sting painful enough to deter the behavior without physically damaging the child. If you are causing bruising, your hitting too hard or with the wrong thing; but at the same time, if there is not enough pain from the sting, it will not deter the foolishness.
It is important to take heed to Proverbs 229:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” It takes both verbal and physical correction to bring about wisdom because . . .
The long-term goal is to train the heart,
Not just gain outward obedience.
Behavior is the easy part. The heart must be trained in wisdom through moral instruction as part of daily life in teaching them about God and His commands, and it is further trained when the moral reason is reemphasized when giving correction. As the child gets older and outward behavior is gained, physical chastisement is replaced with more talking and other types of correction depending on the particular type of foolishness, its frequency and the child’s general character. This could range from just a warning, to a gentle swat as a reminder, to isolation so they can think about their actions, to loss of privileges related to the offense. If there were natural consequences to their foolishness such as a broken toy, skinned knee or loss of a friend, there is no other correction needed except explaining the correlation between their foolishness and the consequences experienced.
If you want wise children that will bring you and others joy and not foolish children that will cause you grief and shame, then you must train them in God’s ways. Though we just talked about the correction of their foolishness, the major work in training your children is to be through positive instruction, reinforcement and warnings and not negative correction after they have sinned. If a child is trained properly, they will generally have their behavior under control by around 5 or 6 years old, and by the time they are 12 or 13 they should be controlled internally by their own heart for the Lord and keeping His commandments. Such children can become friends and peers by their late teens or early twenties.
You will want to teach them the breadth of Scriptures about God and His commands, but Proverbs is a great place to find pithy statements about the moral lessons you want to instill into their hearts. These will be in both positive statements about what they are to do as well as warnings about what to avoid.
Let me go over a few of them as a framework on which you can build.
There is nothing more important than
Teaching your children about God.
We have already seen that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but Proverbs also says much about a lot of other things concerning the Lord.
We are to trust the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5-8, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.”
Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.”
The Lord is in control.
Proverbs 26:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.”
Proverbs 21:2, “The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
The Lord cares for the righteous.
Proverbs 10:3, “The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will thrust [aside] the craving of the wicked.”
Proverbs 10:29-30, “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity. The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land.”
Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”
The Lord knows your heart.
Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.”
Proverbs 17:3, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests hearts.”
Proverbs 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”
The Lord’s desire for you.
Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice.”
There are things the Lord especially hates.
Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness [who] utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”
The discipline of the Lord is a good thing.
Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord , Or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.”
Proverbs address issues of the family – marriage, husband, wife, parenting, and children.
Encourage your daughters to be wise like the woman described in Proverbs 31:1–31 and your sons to find such a woman for a wife.
Proverbs 31:10 “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. . .”
Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” And girls, find a man of integrity.
Proverbs 20:7, “A righteous man who walks in his integrity – How blessed are his sons after him.”
But warn them about being foolish or finding one.
Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
Proverbs 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames [him] is as rottenness in his bones.”
Proverbs 21:19, “It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and vexing woman.” That includes foolish men.
Proverbs 12:15a, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”
Proverbs 14:17, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.”
Proverbs 19:3, “The foolishness of man subverts his way, And his heart rages against the Lord.”
Proverbs 29:11a, “A fool always loses his temper.”
Proverbs 21:20, “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up.”
There is blessing when parents and children are wise, but tragedy when either is foolish.
Proverbs 10:1, “A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.”
Proverbs 13:1, “A wise son [accepts his] father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Proverbs 17:25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.”
Friends & Neighbors
Use Proverbs to explain some of the characteristics of true friends.
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” It also warns,
Proverbs 27:14, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him.”
Proverbs 28:5, “A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.”
Proverbs gives a lot of counsel on relationships with neighbors.
Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Proverbs 25:17, “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s house, Lest he become weary of you and hate you.”
Proverbs 26:18-19, “Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows and death, So is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, ‘Was I not joking?’”
James 4:2 tells us that a man that can keep from stumbling in what he says is a perfect man. Proverbs tells us a lot on the use of our tongue. Here are a few of its statements to teach your children.
Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”
Proverbs 18:10, “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”
Proverbs 10:31-32, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked, what is perverted.
Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wie makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.”
Proverbs 20:19, “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.”
Proverbs 17:4, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”
Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Wouldn’t all of us be better off if we were all careful to heed this wisdom?
Wealth & Work
Our society places a premium on wealth, but Proverbs gives a better perspective on the source of wealth and what is important in life.
Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Proverbs 10:22, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.”
Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
Proverbs 15:16, “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure and turmoil with it.”
There is also much warning about it too.
Proverbs 23:4-5, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration [of it.] When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For [wealth] certainly makes itself wings, Like an eagle that flies [toward] the heavens.”
Proverbs 28:22, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him.”
Proverbs 13:11, “Wealth [obtained] by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases [it.]”
Proverbs 24:33-34, “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” then your poverty will come [as] a robber, And your want like an armed man.”
There is of course much, much more in Proverbs concerning these issues and many more topics. It is a good book to teach your children that they might have wisdom in many areas, and a good book to continually review yourself for the same reason.
The bottom line of godly parenting is teaching your children about God, His ways and works, and His commands. As they learn to see the world from the Lord’s perspective, they will be able to discern what to do in any situation that comes upon them. Teach them to obey and have proper respect for the Lord, for you as your parents, and for other authorities in the lives. In addition, teach them to have respect for others because people are precious to the Lord. He created them and Jesus died to redeem them, and so we are to also treat them as being precious and that includes treating their property with respect too. Finally, teach them to treat nature with respect too. God has given man dominion over the earth, but He created it all and will hold man responsible for the stewardship entrusted to him.
It all does boil down to the two great commandments – to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”