A Word to Children
On two occasions when Paul gives to his readers a long list of the ugly fruits of godlessness, right in the middle we find one little phrase: “disobedient to parents” (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2). Conversely, when you read church history, you discover that at times of spiritual awakening, practical godliness followed—including children’s submission to godly parental authority.
Children’s obedience to their parents is not merely a suggestion; it is an obligation. Scripture teaches that such obedience is right according to the natural order of God’s creation, in accordance with His law, and as a response to the gospel. Parents should not be afraid to call for, and praise, obedience. But Paul doesn’t only say that obedience is right; he also says that it is rewarded. In the Lord Jesus, there is a blessing that accompanies paying attention to God’s commands and promises. And when parent-child relationships are marked by love and trust and obedience, we don’t just create healthy people; we create a healthy, cohesive society.
Parents who wish to bring about such obedience would do well to remember five important truths that the Bible teaches about our children:
1. “Children are a heritage from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3). They are a gift and a blessing. Thinking of our children should prompt gratitude to the Giver of those children.
2. We don’t own our children; they belong to God. They’re on loan to us, for a limited time.
3. Children are flawed from conception, guilty of sin and not deserving of eternal life—just like all of us (Psalm 58:3; Romans 3:23).
4. Because they are sinful, children are in need of the commandments of God. As parents, we are responsible for instructing them in God’s law from the earliest days.
5. Our children can be saved only by grace. Therefore, we must teach them to look to Jesus alone for salvation.
Many of us live in a culture where these truths are opposed. On the one hand, children are seen as innately good, and their education or health or happiness is held up as the highest good. On the other, they are often the butt of jokes or subject of complaints. Sometimes even within the church itself, there is an absence of clear, biblical statements about parenting. But here is what God says: children growing up in the home are to obey their parents; parents are to raise their children to know God’s law and God’s grace. If we would raise a generation in our homes and in our churches that is more godly and more zealous than ours, we would do well to nurture our children in the context of God’s truth. Many of us are parents with children in our homes. All of us will be members of churches with children in our midst. So what should it look like for you to contribute to the spiritual health of the next generation?
The Value of Wisdom
1My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
9Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
12delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
13who forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
14who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways.
16So you will be delivered from the forbidden1 woman,
from the adulteress2 with her smooth words,
17who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
18for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the departed;3
19none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life.
20So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
22but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
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