Some thoughts regarding the raising of children, with special emphasis on the fathers role in the home specifically.
As I reflected on fathers and their children and especially my own relationship as a father with my own three sons, it occurred to me that the best example of a Father/Son relationship to be found in the Bible is the one between Jesus himself and the Heavenly Father. Jesus said that “he always did and said what the Father told him.” Personally I have been trying for years to get my sons to have this same attitude with mixed results. My own father used to say, “son, don’t just do what I do, do what I tell you.” He seemed to understand as I myself have learned, that it is always easier to preach to our kids as to how they should live, who they should hang-out with, where they should go, what they should do, and so on and so forth. It is not always an easy task to practice what it is we preach. My own father knew one primary verse of scripture which he preached to us kids on many occasions, “honor thy father and mother.” He didn’t just preach this short sermon on Sundays however, but whenever he thought we were breaking the commandment.
Seriously though, not always do our kids have the same purpose or goals in life, nor are they of the same opinion on certain matters are we. Often in homes, there is dissension or division between parents and children. Some may call this the “generation gap,” or some other term. When they don’t think or act like we do, we think they have “gone astray” or “gone bad.” Someone once said, “a juvenile delinquent is a child trying to act like his parents.” What kind of an example are we setting for our kids? How can we help our kids to grow to have good values, morals and principles? God has something to say to us parents, especially us fathers, with regard to these kinds of questions. Let me share some of them with you from the pages of the Holy Bible.
Psalm 78 says;
Vs. 1 – “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.” This is an earnest plea from God to us as parents. It is from the depths of the great heart of God himself. He is saying, “this is one of the most important things you will every hear – my teaching.
Vs. 2 – “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old -” Jesus quoted this scripture in Matthew, chapter thirteen in reference to His teaching and to the fultillment of this prophecy in relation to his own ministry. We should listen to His teaching, to his words to us! When God says He will “open His mouth,” that means He will speak. We’d best listen! We’d best pay attention! When my own children didn’t pay attention when I spoke to them or told them what to do, the worst thing that would happen to them is that they’d get into trouble. The best thing that would happen is that they’d miss out on what I would consider to be a “blessing.” I had something important to tell them and they were missing the point. People often say, “I wish God would just speak to me on such and such a subject,” when in fact He is through the pages of His written Word!
Vs. 3 – “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.” This speaks of personal testimony. Do you have one? This verse speaks of personal, intimate, knowledge of God. Dad, do you know Him? Do you have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father? If your answer is no, or if you’re not quite sure, why not start up a relationship with God the Father today? Jesus said in John Chapter five, verse 23 and following, “…that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has CROSSED OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE.” God has built a bridge from the death of your old life to newness of life in His Son Jesus Christ. All you have to do is believe this and get on that bridge and walk over to the other side, God’s side! What an offer! Why wait? You won’t find an offer like that anywhere else – at a car dealer or a superstore or anywhere. Don’t turn it down! Just pray right where you are and ask Christ to forgive you and to come into your life and be your Lord. God is more than willing to answer your prayer.
Vs. 4 – “We will not hide them from their children…” As fathers, we will not hide these things of God, we won’t keep this great information for ourselves. We will share it with our kids and their kids. “We will TELL the next generation…” This business of teaching our children the things of God, and of our personal experience with God, is not up to the Sunday School department of your church, the Pastor, or anyone else, (although they may assist), it is up to you Dads, to you parents! As parents, we must check-up occasionally on the spiritual condition of our kids, to ask them as a priest I used to know when I was a kid used to ask, “how’s you love life?” Then, after he had your complete, undivided attention after putting that question to you, would add, “with God!” Verse 4 also tells us not just to tell our kids, but what we should tell them; “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.” Tell them dads of how God saved you, or how he rescued you from a bad situation. Tell them of what a great God you believe in. Tell them of how God has the power to help your kids when they get in a difficult bind, if they will call on Him in the day of trouble. Tell them what you know of God and don’t be afraid to tell them of what you don’t know. Your kids will respect you for telling them that contrary to their belief otherwise, that as a dad you simply don’t know it all.
Vs. 5 – “He decreed statutes…which he commanded our forefathers to TEACH their children…”
Deuteronomy 4:9 – “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. TEACH them to your children and to their children after them.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. IMPRESS them on your children. (Stamp them, indelibly etch them, imprint them like you would a young foal, so that they will know God). “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…;” (Do this talking and teaching about God at any time, all the above or when you are fishing or hunting or driving in your chariot. You will know when it feels right to teach them). “TIE them as symbols on your hands and BIND them on your foreheads. WRITE them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
All this “impressing, tying, binding and writing,” means simply this; DON’T FORGET THEM! THESE THINGS OF GOD! THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE!!!
So why do all this teaching and telling?
Vs. 6 – “So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” As fathers, as parents, we are to pass-on our faith.!
Vs. 7 – “Then they would put their TRUST in God and would NOT FORGET His deeds but would KEEP His commands.”
God wants to bless your children. He wants you to have a happy family. He wants this for you just as you want good things for your children. It’s not too late! Start now so they won’t be like the parents God spoke of in Verses eight through thirty-two of Psalm 78. Of those forefathers, God said they were; “not loyal, not faithful, cowardly and unbelieving, did not keep his covenant, refused to live His way, they forgot, they continued to sin, (instead of stopping), they rebelled, they put God to the test, they spoke against God, they did not believe in or trust Him, they kept on sinning (in spite of all His care for them).”
Do you want this for your kids? Of course not! If not, then follow this advice from Proverbs 22:6, “TRAIN up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Webster defines “training” as “to cause to grow as desired, (i.e., a vine on a trellis). To form my instruction and discipline.”
How do you want your children to grow? Do you want them to be godly? Do you want them to be just like you? Get a testimony for God for yourself by crossing that bridge, then TELL, TEACH AND TRAIN them in the things of God and may He bless you in the effort to do so!