|Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
Gary C. Hampton
A daily poll is a part of a website I enjoy visiting from time to time. A recent poll asked people where they eat supper. Forty percent said, “In front of the TV.” That led me to a question. Does the television distract family members from paying close attention to what other family members might be saying? The survey did not have a response for what a person was doing while eating the meal. How many appear disinterested in their families because of smart phones and tablets?
God directed that the family make a continual effort to teach and train children. Notice Moses’ words to the second generation of Israelites delivered from bondage in Egypt.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NKJV)
Parents should make every effort to learn what their children are doing and thinking. Seize upon questions, viewing them as teaching opportunities. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Abraham serves as a living example of that approach when going to carry out God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. “But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’” (Genesis 22:7-8).
God’s desire for children is that they be taught by their parents. Successful parenting must include continual teaching. Questions should be viewed as opportunities. Let us all pray God will bless our efforts to bring our children up in the way God would have them to go.
[Editor’s Note: Look around your own home. Glance at fellow diners in your favorite restaurant. Brother Hampton is right. Nearly everyone, young and old, is completely absorbed in his smartphone, tablet or television – to the extent that virtually no direct communication occurs between family members or diners at the same table. These days, moms and dads can hardly teach their children since they, too, are mesmerized with the same gadgets. Bible classes twice a week and additional youth activities or devotionals on occasion cannot substitute for daily parental interaction and teaching children by their mothers and fathers. It is little wonder that so many young people among us stray from the Lord’s church. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Look at the Cross
“See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?” (“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Isaac Watts).
Sin is such a commonplace element of the world in which we live that it’s easy to take it for granted. We see it in the world in general and in society. How sad the way people treat one another! It’s something we can experience in our own families, and we see the effects of it in ruined lives of people we dearly love. We also know what it can do in our own lives, in how we can struggle against yielding to the demands it makes in our own lives and the frustrations it brings to our efforts to live faithful and godly lives in Christ. We agree with Paul, who said of himself, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:22-24 NKJV).
So, how do we break out of the bondage to sin to live in the light of God’s will, to know fully His love for us and the beauty of life in Christ? Paul went on to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). How do we find God’s grace and mercy to overcome sin, when sin returns so many times to tempt us, to trap us, to destroy us? Perhaps, we need a renewed perspective of what God in Christ has done for us, to drive us to our knees and to realize just how ugly and vicious sin is to our lives.
Isaac Watts' words above, at least for me, tap into a realization of the depth of God’s love, of the pain and suffering Christ endured in the flesh for us. It should cause us to take a deeper look at what the cross means to us. We’ve become so familiar with the story of the cross, it’s easy to forget what happened there for us. The eternal Son of God had to become flesh and blood on our behalf (Luke 1:31). Not only that, but He had to be tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Showing Himself to be the spotless, sinless Lamb of God, He suffered the shame of the cross, the torture of the pain of the cross, the separation from the Father on the cross and poured out His blood for our atonement from sin (Hebrews 12:2). The cross had nothing to do with any failings of the Son of God, but rather our failings – our sins (1 Peter 1:18-20)!
Maybe sin wouldn’t be quite as appealing to us if we would, through our mind’s eye, go back to the cross and focus on all Christ endured to die for us there. He did it freely for our sake, but what a price He paid! See, from His head, His hands, His feet, that sorrow and love flow mingled down for us through His spilt blood. Satan doesn’t love us, but he uses sin to destroy us. Where else does sorrow and love come together than in Christ being pierced in death, that His blood can cleanse us of our sins? What greater crown could be worn than that which was mockingly placed upon Him, which, however, truly revealed Him as our Lord and Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords?
When you are tempted with sin, just step back and remember the perspective of the cross. Satan is a liar, a deceiver and a destroyer. Christ is deity become flesh who reveals truth to us. His love is genuine, observable by His offering of life, salvation and eternity for us. Does that image not touch your heart? Can it not renew your resolve for holy living in Him? Will it not motivate one to find life and eternity in such an image? Go back to the cross. No, it isn’t a pleasant image to consider or about which to read, but it is the depth of God’s love revealed. It will humble and break our hearts. It will draw us out of sin to a better, nobler, unending resolve to honor the love revealed there. Let’s go to Calvary and look upon the Christ, dying for us to have life. Make it a daily part of your routine. What a difference it can make in our lives. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).