Yesterday we looked at the Bible's directions for children. As a parent, there are some nice verses we can quote to our kids, "REMINDING" them of their call to obey. But, all joking aside, we must be careful, because guess what? The Bible also has directions for parents, and as you will see ... we've got a much greater responsibility than our children!
Before continuing, however, I want to remind us all (myself included) that studying Scripture and seeking God in anything is not about getting it "right" - here, becoming a perfect parent. The goal is to know God more - He is, after all, a perfect Father - walk closer with Him, and seek to glorify and enjoy Him, and guide our kids in the same direction. So, here are my BOLD statements before going on:
YOU WILL FAIL; Jesus' forgiveness is REAL.
YOU WILL GROW; transformation by the Holy Spirit is REAL, too.
Now, [deep breath] let's look to the Bible as our guide.
I like categories, so I'll present three that I see emerging from Biblical teaching to parents. Then, tomorrow I'll write a final post, putting it all together with more of an application focus (and some book recommendations, of course!) My apologies if you're left hanging today, but often God speaks to us in those "loose ends" places, doesn't He?
Scripture gives us direction as parents as to our MESSAGE, ACTIONS, and ATTITUDE in parenting.
Deuteronomy is full of directions for parents; in chapters 4, 6, and 11 God tells them several things:
- Remember/Don't forget who I am and what I've done
- Love and obey all my commands
- Teach my Word to your children - all the time!
God knows we modern folk are prone to forget that He's redeemed us from slavery, just like the Israelites. Having children to teach is a wonderful way to keep from forgetting - we've got to love, honor, and remember God in order to point our kids in that direction. The message God gives us to impart to our kids is about who He is from Scripture and what He's done in our lives and how to best love and obey Him according to His Word.
Proverbs addresses more the issue of disciplining our kids. I've found in some Christian circles this automatically means spanking the disobedience out of our kids. Hm.... It's based on a few verses (Prov. 23:13-14, 29:15) and sadly we can be deceived into believing that the right method will somehow make our kids turn out "right." But these verses are only part of our calling, not the primary focus.
Proverbs 22:6 says Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it. As parents we're not simply disciplinarians in the punishment sense; we are trainers. We are our kid's God-ordained coaches! We help them to learn that disobedience has consequences, that obedience can be difficult but brings reward, that growing up and improving takes work and practice, that good things come to those who wait. patiently. on the Lord. Training involves much more than punishment, it's a life-long discipling of our children. Not only showing them how they're disobeying, but teaching them to obey - what is right.
Ephesians 6:4b says [fathers] bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Just as God shows us what is disobedience and what is obedience, we do the same for our kids in our parenting. More on this tomorrow, but the take-away point here is that we have an immense calling that spans our childrens' life-times; no quick fixes here, "slow and steady wins the race."
Have you ever considered your attitude toward your children? One moment we can be overflowing with love and affection, and then next minute crazy frustrated and wildly harsh because of some behavior our kids display. God knows this and issues two warnings to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21; I believe they apply to all parents.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
I've exasperated and embittered my kids. This often happens when I'm expecting behavior from them that's not age-appropriate or have not taken the time to train them what would be proper in a specific situation. As we rear our children, we need the Lord to work on our heart attitude toward the calling He's given us in raising these little eternal beings, ('cause let's face it, sometimes we wish our kids would go away or be 18 already - we're sinful too!)
More tomorrow, friends. For today, let me pray for us:
Lord, we see in your word a calling to something we cannot do on our own. We know the damage parents can do to children, perhaps even the way our own parents fell short of this calling. The pain can run so deep. Remind us of Your love for us, Your desire that we share in Your holiness, Your tender care for us. There is no God like you. Fill us with a desire to know your Word, apply it to our lives, and teach it to our children. We need you and we love you. Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for giving us all we need for life and godliness and for the depth of Your forgiveness in Christ - what a blessed message we have to give to our kids because of who You are. Amen.