A Letter to Christian Parents

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Some time ago I was in a home when a father asked his little child to shut the door. The response was, "I don't want to." "Then poor Dad will have to shut the door himself." "I don't care; I just don't feel like it."
And I saw "poor Dad" get up and shut the door. Uncontrolled at six; a delinquent at sixteen?
I must confess to an immediate urge to have that child for about fifteen minutes, but a more sober reflection brought the realization that it was really the father who needed the discipline.
One of the most dangerous signs of the times is the deterioration of home life, causing a growing disrespect of children for parents and others in authority. In 2 Tim. 3, the Apostle Paul, in describing the last days, accurately tells us where we are now.
The longer I live, and the more I see of the joys and sorrows, the success and failure of this life, the more I'm convinced that the home problem is the greatest one which exists today. The home is the center of everything. Whether humble or pretentious, the home provides greater possibilities for joy or sorrow than all the rest of the world. The downfall of many characters can be traced to some defect in the home life, while the loveliest picture earth furnishes is a family going on together, on their way to heaven. We step from the portals of our home into the social, moral and civil world. What we are in the home will be what we are in the assembly and in all fields of life.
When God Himself would found a nation, He made the home life the deciding factor. In choosing Abraham it is said of him, "He will command his children and his household after him" (Gen. 18:1919For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:19)). Here we have two fundamental ideas for a successful home-authority and example. Without these you cannot have a happy home, assembly or nation. God's ideal nation starts with the home, with the father of the home "walking in the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment," his children and household following after him.
Anarchy is not born in the streets of New York, Chicago or London. The question of obedience to law is settled in childhood. The child who does not obey his father and mother is not likely to obey social, civil or divine laws. When God said, "Children obey your parents," He revealed where obedience originates.
A father and mother who had raised six Christian children, without a black sheep among them, were asked how they had done it. With a smile, the father replied, "With prayer and a hickory stick." Two better instruments were never used. This is not meant to encourage the brutal punishment of children, but when prayerfulness and wholesome authority go hand-in-hand, obedient and godly. children follow. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Pro. 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).
Authority alone is not sufficient, however. As noted above, a godly example is also required. Are we, as fathers, exhibiting our obedience to the authorities to which we should be subject-not only the Word of God, but also the civil authorities He has placed over us?
What kind of legacy are we leaving our children? Our day requires more prayer for grace and wisdom than ever before, for the needed help to bring up our children as tropics of His love. One day soon we shall give God an account as to our stewardship of the children He has entrusted to our care.
In closing, a true story comes to mind which spoke to my own heart. One beautiful, hot day a father took his daughter for a short hike into the foothills. As he lay down under the shade tree, his little girl ran about gathering flowers, bringing them to him, saying, "Pretty, pretty." Soon the father fell asleep, and the child wandered away.
When he awoke, his first thought was, "Where is Nancy?" He shouted at the top of his voice, but all he heard was his own voice echoing back. Then, he peered over a nearby cliff, and there upon the rocks and bushes below he saw the broken body of his beloved Nancy. Ever after he accused himself of being the killer of his little child, because while he was sleeping she had wandered over the precipice.
How many fathers and mothers are now sleeping while their children wander over dangerous cliffs falling into indifference and sin. How many parents-either knowingly or unconsciously- encourage their children to disrespect authority and the Word of God? Now is the time to train our children in the way they ought to go. What a tragic day it will be if we should awaken from our spiritual indifference to find that while we were sleeping, our children wandered away!