Raising Up Godly Children
In our last two studies we were considering the Christian home, the place which Satan has attacked the most from the days of Adam and Eve, and which is under tremendous attack till today. In our last two studies we considered the relationship between a husband and a wife. In this study we want to continue and consider God's plan for bringing up children.
Children were part of God's perfect will from the time He created man and woman. When God created Adam and Eve, the very first words that He spoke to Adam and Eve, mentioned in Genesis 1:28 were, "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it" They were to have physical relationship with each other and thereby produce children. That was God's will. Again, in the last book of the Old Testament (Malachi), in the last page of the Old Testament, we see an emphasis on that.
Why did God tell Adam and Eve to be fruitful? Their children were to reflect God's image just like Adam and Eve were to reflect God's image. God created Adam and Eve that they might reflect His image. Adam could not do it alone. Eve could not do it alone. Together they were to show the character and the nature of God. There are things a man can show of God's nature and there are things a woman can show God's nature. Together there would be a balance. And their children were to carry on fulfilling that ministry in the next generation.
In Malachi 2:14-15, the Lord mentions two important things. In the middle of verse 14 we read, "The Lord hath been witness between thee, and the wife of thy youth, whom thou hast despised: yet she was thy partner, and the wife of thy covenant." Is your relationship with your wife - the wife of your youth- in good order? Why does He emphasize that? Maybe you are both 50-60 years old today. But when you chose her, she was a young attractive person in your eyes. And to you wife, your husband was a young attractive man in your eyes. But you have dealt treacherously with each other. You have not been faithful even though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
Do you know that marriage is a covenant? You promised to be faithful to her. She is meant to be your companion, your friend. How many of you husbands can honestly say that your wife is your best friend? She should be. That is what God says in the the Old Testament. And how many of you can say, 'I have not dealt treacherously with her?' And if you have, that you have repented and you seek to be faithful to her now. This is God's will. Then He goes on, in the next verse (Malachi 2:15), to say, "And what was the one God seeking in uniting you as husband and wife?" I am paraphrasing the words: He was seeking a godly offspring. He was seeking godly children that in the next generation they would transmit God's image to the next generation. Not just offspring, but a godly seed to transmit God's image to the next generation.
It is easy to have children, but to bring up children in a godly way, that is a task of a lifetime. It requires sacrifice. It requires sincerity, wholeheartedness in our life to God. Just like God is the binding force that holds husband and wife together, it is only with God's power that we will be able to bring up our children in a godly way in this evil generation. The way your children have turned out is an indication of whether you have lived in a godly way or not in your own home. Do you know what the Bible says about the way children turn out later on in life? It says in Proverbs 22:6, "It is a proverb: Train up a young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it." Now either that is the stupid opinion of a man or it is the inspired word of God. What do you think it is? If you accept this as the inspired words by God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, then listen to it. If you do the first part of that verse, the second part will be automatic. What is that?
If you train up your children in the way you want them to go. It doesn't say a spiritual way. No. It doesn't say if you train up a child in a godly way. No. Maybe you want your children to make money in the world. Fine, train up a child in the way you want them to go, when he is old he will not depart from it. Why are your children running after money today? Because you have trained them up in that way! When they are old they will not depart from it. Why are your children seeking for greatness in the world? Because that is what you wanted for them! He may speak high-sounding spiritual language, and be a Priest or Deacon, but if your children are worldly and wayward and unconverted, dear parents, I don't want to condemn you, but I would encourage you to take the blame instead of blaming circumstances, people, etc. Humble yourself and say, 'Lord, it is my fault that my children are not converted. It is my fault that my children are not following the Lord.'
When you take the blame, God can help you, even if you are being a failure. Do you know that God can help you, even if your children have left your home? They have gone away and you recognize today that you failed miserably in the way you brought them up, and as a result today they are unconverted?
Now, when I say that they should be living for God, I don't mean they should have a spiritual vocation in the religious life. No. That is a matter of calling. God doesn't call everybody to the religious life. But they should be disciples of Jesus. 99.9% of people are called to work for the Lord in a secular job, but they should all be disciples of Jesus, every single one of them. So we are not to train up our children to become missionaries, Priest, Nuns, and Monks. No, that is not primary. We train them up to do the will of God; to be disciples of Jesus in whatever God calls them to do. If God calls them to be a priest, that is fine. But they must be disciples irrespective of whether they are nurses or teachers or engineers or missionaries or priest or nuns, or whatever it is. They must be wholehearted disciples of Jesus. Whether they are teachers or clerks or peons doesn't make a difference. They must be wholehearted disciples of Jesus.
And that is what we have to train them up in, from earliest childhood, to show them that the only thing worth living for in this world is the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The children must see this in their parents. They must see the way their parents live. They must see what their parents live for. If children see that you, as parents, have lived for money, even though you go to some church and speak high-sounding spiritual things over there, don't blame your children if they grow up doing what they saw you doing at home. If they saw that, even though you went to Mass every week on Sundays and lived as hypocrites at home with other standards, you can't blame your children for going astray. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. I believe that is the word of God. It can work for the good of the children or for the bad of the children depending on how you bring them up.
Why do you think Judas Iscariot went astray? Was it because he was not dedicated to the Lord as a little baby? He was probably taken to the temple exactly like Jesus was taken to the temple and dedicated to the Lord. But it is quite likely that, after dedicating him to the Lord, his parents brought him up for the world. Maybe when Judas Iscariot did little wrong things as a child, such as him bringing back from school somebody else's pencil or pen or something like that and his parents just ignored it. When you ignore the little thefts and the little lies that your children say, you are training them to be thieves and liars when they grow up. Even a small thing!
Supposing you see your child come home one day from a kindergarten class with a pencil that you never gave him. And you ask him, 'How did you get this pencil?' Suppose he replies, 'Well somebody stole my pencil, I don't know who it was. So I found somebody else's pencil and I took it.' Then if you gave him the impression that he is a smart boy, you trained him to be a Judas Iscariot when he grows up. It starts with a small pencil but it may end with robbing a bank. What do you need to tell that child at that time? You need to tell that child, 'If somebody else robs you of your pencil, it doesn't mean you can rob somebody else of theirs. Tomorrow go and give it back to the teacher or to the person to whom it belongs to, and say I am sorry I took this.'
My dear friends, very many times, parents are responsible for the godless way in which children grow up. Do you realize that God wants you to bring up godly offspring? The responsibility primarily comes upon fathers. We read in Ephesians 6:4, "And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord." There are two things we need to give to our children: instruction and discipline. Instruction in the Lord does not mean just the stories of Joseph, and David, and Moses. That is good. But at the same time teach the principles of justice, of honouring parents, honouring and speaking respectfully to older people. Who is going to teach children all these? Who is going to teach little girls modesty of dress and behaviour? Parents, if you don't teach your little girls principles of modesty and behaviour, they are going to pick up practices from the television screen and from the pictures of the film stars they see.
Take these responsibilities seriously. If you have failed and your children are grown up, repent. Take the blame and ask the Lord to change them even today. If fortunately your children are still with you at home, then say, 'Lord, give me grace to bring them up in a godly way.'