|Vol. 14 No. 5 May 2012||
How Do We Wear Him?
Betty Burton Choate
On the one hand, the Scriptures speak of the Christian being clothed with Christ, being washed in His blood in baptism, and as wearing His righteousness. As we go about our daily lives, people are to see Christ in our behavior. On the other hand, the Scriptures speak of Christ dwelling in the Christian: “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17). This means that whatever we do and wherever we go, we take Christ with us — that He is in us (Romans 8:9-10).
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. (Psalm 78:5-7)
On my Yahoo email account there is often a life insurance advertisement with a picture of a little boy sitting alone by the side of an empty street – perhaps a dock near a harbor. Written to parents, the sign simply says, “When you die, love continues.” Naturally, the scene is meant to touch heartstrings and cause one to think seriously about providing for his family after his demise. It sparked questions in my mind and a Bible class lesson that I would like to share today.
1. How can we be sure our love continues after we leave our children? 2. How will they benefit from our having reared them instead of some other parents rearing them? 3. What legacy will we leave them?
Christian parents are told to lay up for their children (2 Corinthians 12:14). Jesus recognized this as a normal response (Matthew 7:9- 11). Generally, most parents have a desire to leave their children a good inheritance. Most want to provide them with the good things they need so they do not have to suffer. I for one do not appreciate the bumper sticker that says, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” That shows a seriously wrong attitude.
However, many well-meaning parents have a wrong sense of values. They may only think in terms of lands, houses and money for an inheritance. Value is a relative thing. Obviously, not everyone values the same things. A blind man does not value the breathtaking sunset. A man who has just eaten too much does not value a delicious steak. Then there is heat in a desert, ice in the North Pole and so on. Now if we put these same items in a different context, they become quite important.
It is unrealistic to say money has no value at all, but its true value is limited. We know that there are different kinds of riches (Proverbs 13:7). According to the apostle Paul, we can have nothing and yet possess everything (2 Corinthians 6:10). I have never met a person who did not agree with Solomon when he wrote, “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). What then will wise parents leave their children? Solomon, the wisest man in the world, had much to say on this subject.
First, we can leave our children a memory of a Christian home. What a wonderful blessing it would be for every child to have the privilege of being reared in a Christian home! The early years are the most impressionable years. Early training can prove beautiful (Proverbs 22:6). Even the Prodigal Son carried the memory of a good home with him as he agonized over his mistakes (Luke 15:17ff). His home had been filled with righteousness, thoughtfulness and love. This is what inspired him to return there for help when he most needed it.
Next, we can give our children respect for parents and for those in authority. If we do not fulfill this responsibility, it can be fatal for the child (Proverbs 29:15). We have a promise from God, if we do our part (Proverbs 29:17); “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (NKJV). Taking care to train children in these things will give them the promise of a long life (Ephesians 6:4). This same process can give them an eternal inheritance. We know that we can leave them great wisdom if we teach them to fear God (Proverbs 9:10). Similarly, we can destroy our children by withholding correction (Ecclesiastes 7:7). We can leave our children as souls delivered from hell (Proverbs 23:14).
A third thing we can leave our children is a sincere desire to work. Solomon noted that they will suffer if they do not learn to work (Proverbs 19:15). Many today have the idea that the world owes them a living (Proverbs 12:24). We cannot listen to excuses when it comes to work (Proverbs 26:16). We have to understand that we did not make our children; this is God’s work (Proverbs 22:15). We bless our children by teaching them to work diligently (Acts 20:35). Some parents had not given their children a good inheritance (Ephesians 4:28). Every Jewish child learned a trade, and it is still a practice in Judaism today. Even the Son of God learned a trade for 30 years (Mark 6:3).
Often we hear, “My child is going to be worth something.” Or we may hear, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” One little boy replied that he wanted to be a preacher, but the person asking the question said, “No, sir! You need to make something of yourself.” Is that the response we would have for our children? God had only one Son, and He was a Preacher!
Furthermore, are we leaving our children a good Christian example? Would we want our children to know everything we do? Are we ashamed of any part of our lives? We should strive to leave them a good example of honesty and integrity (Proverbs 19:22). It is good to give up money for a good character, but not the reverse (Proverbs 8:10-11). Seeking to be rich is not the wisdom that comes from God (Proverbs 23:4). Can we give our children a good example of reverence in worship, or do we show them we are still entwined with the world?
We first meet Samuel’s mother praying; it seems her whole life was involved in her relationship with her Creator (1 Samuel 2:1). Samuel inherited the same love for worshiping God. What do our children see? Timothy received a beautiful inheritance of a love for God (2 Timothy 1:5). We can also be salt for our children (Matthew 5:13). When (or if) our children see our devotion to God, they should be encouraged to follow. What do they actually see? Do they see faithfulness to assemble with the saints for Bible study and worship? Do they see faithfulness in getting there on time? I know one family that is always late for every service. When they arrived at 10:30 one Sunday morning, a young teen sarcastically asked, “Are they late for class or early for worship?”
Even a child can recognize unfaithfulness. Our children are gaining much from their inheritance right now. Do they see a good example in applying the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)? Do they see a good example of loving the church for which Christ died (John 13:33-34)? They need to see a faithful, loyal, dedicated service to our Lord and to His church.
Most of all, our children need to inherit a compelling desire to be like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). Our ultimate goal is to be like Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13). There are many people in the world teaching our children to eat, drink and be merry, but we should be teaching them self-denial and devotion to God (Luke 9:23-24). Eli honored his children and gave in to their desires. Both of his sons were lost. Hannah only had Samuel to teach and train for approximately five years, but he never lost that inheritance. We know that Abraham talked enough about heaven that he was known for his example (Hebrews 11:10-13).
What will we leave our children? Really, the question is what are we leaving our children every passing moment? We are, at this time, leaving them their inheritance. What about non-Christian families? They can only leave money, lands or keepsakes, but not eternally valuable things. We can be like Eli, Jezebel or Judas and be a wrong influence for our children, or we can be like Hannah, Sarah and the other godly parents who talked about God day and night (Deuteronomy 6:5-9). Our Father in heaven wants to be our “real Father.” He wants to leave us an eternal inheritance (Galatians 3:29). When you die, will love continue?