Lesson 25 - Children and Parents - Page 2 of 2 (Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
3 *SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.
Since I did not honor my parents, I lost the promise of long life upon this earth. You children who have no respect for your parents, who are breaking their hearts by the things you do, the places you go, the company you keep, mark it well: you will not live to a ripe old age, because honoring godly parents promises long life and blessings on earth. If you are deliberately disobeying godly parents, rest assured that you will reap what you are sowing!
We hear a lot today about juvenile delinquency. I readily confess that we do have a good deal of delinquency among juveniles—but I hasten to say that in many cases the fault is not with the child, but with the parents. I know some parents that have done their very best by their children—and even then the children have gone the way of the world; but in most cases the teenagers who drink, curse, smoke, lie and steel have been brought up in homes where they were not disciplined or controlled.
The Bible promises, “Train up a child in the way it should go, and when it is old it will not depart.” The Word of God goes on to say, “He that spareth the rod hateth his son.” Today many children are juvenile delinquents because they were not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The time to begin training a child is not when the child is three, four, or five years old; but while it is still in a crib. Some parents wonder why they cannot control their children. The answer is simple: they did not begin in time! The majority of children will do almost anything they can get away with. You must remember that your child was born in a tabernacle of sin, totally depraved; and it is just as natural for a child to resist authority and go the way of the flesh, as it is for the sun to rise in the east. The inclination to do wrong is born in a child. The child must be taught to do right.
Do not misunderstand me: if a baby dies the grace of God takes care of the innocent; but I do not know any definite age of accountability, because the Bible does not tell us. Some children become responsible at a much earlier age than others. There is no set age when children can be saved, but long before they are old enough to know they are sinners, they demonstrate the spirit of a sinner. They scream, they fight, and they have all of the marks of their depravity. Therefore, the time to begin training the child is while it is still in the crib. If your children do not respect you, if they do not say “Yes, ma’am,” and “Yes, sir,” it is your fault! When you tell your child to do something, if he replies with “I will not do it,” or “I will do it when I get ready,” do not blame the child; but blame yourself. Parents are responsible for the child they brought into this world.
*In their original setting (Exodus 20:12) these words apply to the nation Israel and have specific reference to prosperity and long life in the Promised Land. The general promise is fulfilled to individuals, just so far “as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good.” Paul gives the words a wider meaning, making them apply to all children who render obedience and honor to their parents.
Samson and Absalom are two examples in Scripture of boys who did not follow this commandment, and their lives were short. Samson, a judge, died when he was a young man. Absalom rebelled against his father David, and he was killed when he was a young man.
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In using the word “fathers” there is no thought of taking responsibility from the mother. The word “father” is the term for parenthood, and is without a doubt designed to remind us that we represent to our children what our Heavenly Father does to us. The parent’s duty is stated both negatively and positively:
1) NOT to incite to anger by severity of treatment that arouses resentment and robs the child of respect for parental authority when not exercised with restraint.
2) Rather to nurture them; to do everything that is conducive to their growth and development in the continuous process of child-training, for such is the meaning of the words educate, culture, and discipline.
And you “fathers,” and you mothers, are the responsible leaders in home authority. Your authority is not for your gratification but for their good, entrusted for a season to your guardianship. No, “bring them up,” “educate” them, “lead them out” and on, in the development of good into better, in the “Lord’s discipline and admonition”; using restraint and using warning, but not what your own quirks and sudden whims dictate; it must all be “the Lords,” learned by you first in His school and animated with His love.
When a child is young the mind is being molded, and we can bend that tender twig to shape it into a beautiful life, if we handle it right. But if we make the child angry by tormenting it, or making a public example of it, ridiculing the child in public, we are doing wrong.
A parent should never whip or reprimand a child while angry. If your child does something that causes you to become angry, you should wait until the anger subsides, until you are calm, and then punish the child. May I add that there is an age when whipping will no longer help a child. What that age is will differ in children. Some children will bear disciplining much longer than others—but as a parent you can know when the child is too old, too big, to be corrected with a switch or a leather strap. When that happens, there are other ways of correcting, such as taking away some of their privileges or something they particularly love, which will do more good than whipping. Reason with the child, and try through understanding and reason to show him that the correction is for his own good.
This doesn’t mean that they are to be treated as if they were a cross between an orchid and a piece of Dresden China. I think that the board of education should be applied to the seat of learning whenever it is needed. The writer of Proverbs had a great deal to say about this Note especially Proverbs 23:13-14; “. . . if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.:
• “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24).
• “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death” (Proverbs 19:18).
• “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away” (Proverbs 22:15).
• “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
• “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul” (Proverbs 29:15, 17).
Parents should train their children in the things of the Lord. The Bible should be read in their presence, prayer should be made in their presence, and grace should be said at every meal. The children should not be sent to Sunday school and church—they should be taken to Sunday school and church by their parents. If we bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord the Lord will certainly keep His part of the bargain. “Train up a child in the way it should go, and when it is old it will not depart.”
Paul did NOT encourage children to be obedient to their parents because they lived in a dominantly patriarchal and hierarchical society. He encouraged it because it is right. It is as simple as that—for this and for all of the commandments!
The lifelong lesson is surly obvious: look for ways to honor your father and mother, no matter what your stage of life! Find them as soon as you can. It may yet transform family relationships and things will indeed go well with you!