|Volume 22 Number 3 March 2020||
Each preacher, parent and teacher may be compared to a sculptor who is working with a beautiful piece of marble, trying to chip away a little here and there until he at last has created a masterpiece. Yet, as preachers, parents and teachers, we are seeking to use God’s Word and Bible principles to chisel and to shape ever so carefully the heart of a person. We love others, and we want them to be the best they can be. Of course, we realize that in the case of a child, there is an active response of the child involved as well. We see both sides of these matters involved in the following passages. “Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it…Lo children are a heritage of Jehovah; And the fruit of the womb is his reward. Happy is the man that hath a quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:1, 3-5). “Train up a child in the way that he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor thy Father and thy Mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth. And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:1-4).
As parents and teachers of God’s Word we will only have our young people with us for a brief period of time. Then, they will launch out on life’s sea by themselves. They will have to make their own decisions based on the education and training they received during their earlier years. Oh! How soon our sculpturing work as parents and teachers will be over! During these formative years, children desperately need love, guidance, instructions in the ways of righteousness and friendship, but they also need discipline. Somewhere along the way, they must learn the meaning of the word, “No.” What kind of parents, preachers or teachers would we be if we weren’t willing to tell our young people about Satan, sin and suffering (1 Peter 5:8; Romans 3:23; 6:23; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:8)? Life is not all positive. We must love them enough to tell and show them by example of the Savior’s love, the Lord’s Church and the Christian life. We must care enough to correct. Even the Lord said, “As many as I love, I reprove and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). The writer of Hebrews also emphasized that “whom the Lord loveth he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).
Now, our young people need to realize that parents, preachers and teachers, who care enough to tell them the truth and correct them when they are wrong, are the ones who truly love them (Galatians 4:16). In this passage Paul said, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Notice the following passages from the Book of Proverbs. “Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate thee. Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:8-9). “He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray” (Proverbs 10:17). “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkens unto counsel” (Proverbs 12:15). “A scoffer loves not to be reproved; He will not go unto the wise…The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly…He that refuses correction deprives his own soul; But he that hearkens to reproof gets understanding. The fear of Jehovah is the instruction of wisdom; And before honor goes humility” (Proverbs 15:12, 14, 32-33).
What good will it do for people to get mad at the preacher for telling them the truth and exposing sin in their lives? What they really need to do is be honest with themselves and their sin problems, and then they need to decide to do something about their sins before it is too late. Getting mad at the preacher is a very poor solution for repentance (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30-31). If a piece of marble stubbornly refused to comply with the sculptor, his hammer and chisel, then there would never be a masterpiece.
So You Want Your
Children to Prosper
Righteous people throughout the ages have shared a common wish for their children. They want them to prosper in the Lord and to do well in life. There is no guaranteed recipe for this wish, although there are many things that will contribute to this plan. The best thing one could do to ensure such an outcome for one’s children is to start them out on the right foot, and prayerfully constrain them to walk in the “light” as long as they shall live. God’s plan is right and true, and it certainly cannot be wrong. However, the outcome depends upon the individual. All of us know families of six or eight children where every single one of them grew up to be righteous individuals. By the same token, we also know of families where only two children are born and one of them is exemplary and the other is an outright renegade. The difference? Their attitude toward God’s Word and the instructions from godly parents is what makes the difference.
When King David came to his last days, he communed with his son, Solomon, this way.
I go the way of all the Earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself. That the Lord may continue in His Word which He spoke concerning me, saying, if thy children take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, they shall not fail thee (said He) a man on the throne of Israel. (1 Kings 2:1-4)
Summarized, if you want your children to prosper, instruct them in righteousness and set a proper example before them. That’s the best anyone can do!
The great apostle Paul gave a heartwarming account of the young Gospel preacher Timothy. “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy Grandmother Lois, and thy Mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Timothy 1:5). If we would couple this sage advice with Paul’s timely words to fathers, we’d have a good grasp of the truth that will greatly ensure the righteousness which we wish for our children. “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Many years earlier, the wise man, Solomon, had advised, “Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). However, as you consider these words, do not fall into the old “Calvinistic” doctrine of “Once saved, always saved.” The same Solomon who spoke this, is the Solomon who is considered in 1 Kings 11:1-2, “But King Solomon loved many strange women, …Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto he children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come into you…”
The words of our eternal God are not simply drivel to fill an empty page, but they are rather the inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word that will be used to judge every accountable soul at the end of life’s way. These instructions do not result from guesses, whims or a majority rule situation, and neither do they come as a smorgasbord collection from which something might work! Every role and every instruction from God works every time, if faithfully followed. So, the best you can possibly do for your children and yourself is to follow God’s Word faithfully until death. Then, you and your children shall receive a crown of life which fadeth not away (Revelation 2:10)!