New Responsibilities Again: Chapter 21

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The precious baby which opened up the fountains of parental affection stored in the hearts of the young father and mother also brought to them new and grave responsibilities. As the mother of Moses was commissioned by Pharaoh's daughter to bring up Moses for her, so Christian parents are to bring up their children for the Lord. This is a full time occupation, and one that will require much dependence on the Lord.
In a wicked world, which is hourly growing worse, it is a serious matter to be entrusted with bringing up children. There will be so many adverse winds blowing that only by divine wisdom which is to be found in the Word of God, can a straight course be set. Ever since Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden and man had to make his way through a defiled world, the saints of God of all ages have needed a way marked out by God Himself. This is true of our whole pathway, but it is specially important in the bringing up of a family.
All too often the responsibilities of Christian parenthood are not realized early enough, and valuable formative years of childhood slip by insufficiently utilized. We need to make use of all the time that is given to us-"redeeming the time, because the days are evil." A young mother once went to an aged servant of the Lord and asked him when she and her husband should begin training their child; he replied by asking her how old the child was. When the mother gave the age, the servant of the Lord said, "You have waited just that much too long.”
It is hard to realize that the innocent and sweet infant has within it the root of an evil nature; it was born with a fallen nature capable of producing the sad fruits of departure from God. The proclivities are there, and as the child develops so will the ability to manifest them. In all this we shall be reminded that we have transmitted to our offspring a wicked heart and a perverse will which we received from our forbears. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." Prov. 27:1919As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. (Proverbs 27:19).
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh." John 3:66That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6). We passed on to our children the same character of flesh we have-not one particle better, nor one whit worse. We cannot give them a new life. They must receive that the same way we did; they too must be born again. The Spirit of God must work in their hearts producing a new life, with new desires. But shall we despair because this is true? Shall we fold our hands and say that we must wait for the Spirit of God to work in them? No! No!
It would be well if parents would bow the knee together and thank God for the gift of the beloved child, and then and there make earnest request that the child may early in life be brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This should be a matter close to the hearts of all Christian parents, and one that should be constantly borne up to our God and Father. We should do it in faith, counting upon Him; it is a matter of first importance and should be the burden of our prayers from the day of the child's birth.
The world has many books on child training which purport to instruct parents in the proper way to bring up their children. But for the Christian parent, these are untrustworthy, if not dangerous. They may contain a certain amount of human wisdom, but the wisdom of this world is not to be compared with divine wisdom. It is far better to prayerfully seek wisdom from God who "giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." If we lack wisdom (and surely we do) let us ask God for it. He will never fail a trusting heart. It is far better to be in a place where we feel our incapacity and our weakness than to turn to the world for counsel. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." Psa. 1:11Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (Psalm 1:1).
We should ever remember that the Word of God contains the wisdom that comes from above; therein is found that word to fathers—"Provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Eph. 6:44And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). It also contains many object lessons. We see examples of men and women of faith who brought up children in the fear of God, and solemn warnings in the histories of those who failed in this responsibility.
Abraham had a well ordered household in his day. He not only walked by faith himself but he commanded "his children, and his household after him," and for this he received special commendation from the Lord. It was because of his faithfulness in his household responsibilities that he received communications of the mind of God—"And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?... For I know him, that he will command his children," etc. Gen. 18:17-1917And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For 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 18:17‑19). Thus he obtained the title "the friend of God.”
Amram and Jocabed were faithful in their day, and all three of their children—Moses, Aaron, and Miriam—were signally devoted to the Lord. In the day when Moses was born, the chosen people were in very difficult circumstances. They were slaves—ill-treated ones—in Egypt, and a government edict condemned the boy babies to death. Surely a book published by Egyptians on how to deal with children would never do for these faithful parents. They acted in faith before God, and shielded their precious charge as long as they could. This is truly a good example for parents. Not many days and years are theirs in which to shield their "heritage of the Lord" from the baneful influence of this wicked world. Every opportunity should be taken to protect their young children from evil influences.
We can no more give our children faith to walk the path of faith than we can give them a new life, but in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord they will learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Moses was so thoroughly instructed in the ways and purposes of God toward Israel that when his mother had to turn him over to the royal benefactress to be taught in the schools of Egypt, he was able to walk by faith himself. He "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds" (Acts 7:2222And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. (Acts 7:22)), but he cast in his lot with the despised people of God—a company of slaves. "He forsook Egypt," because by faith he saw the end.
The word to bring up the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is to the fathers; they are responsible. Mothers, however, have a great influence over the children, for in their younger years the mother is more constantly with them. It is of utmost importance that father and mother be of one mind in the Lord in these matters. Nothing but evil can ensue when one parent pulls one way, while the other parent pulls the other way. Jocabed seems to have been especially prominent in the training of Moses. It is also of note that in the history of the kings of Judah and Israel we often read, "and his mother's name was —." It is as though the Spirit of God would call attention to the part his mother played in his early training. Sometimes the name or the nationality of the mother clearly indicates what showed up in the child.
Timothy was early instructed in the ways of the Lord. He knew the Holy Scriptures from a child, and the godliness of his mother and his grandmother are mentioned. Such instruction is like carefully preparing for a fire in a stove; the paper and the wood are painstakingly laid in order so that when the proper moment comes, all that will be needed is a light. A match is all that is necessary to produce a good fire after everything is in order in the stove; so with the mind properly stored with the inestimable treasure of the Word of God, all that is needed is the Spirit of God to use the Word to implant a new life. Then after the child is saved, all the stored riches of the Word stand him in good stead for the pathway before him.
Christian parents, take fresh courage; cast your little ones on the Lord in faith, shield them from evil influences while you may, fill their receptive minds with wisdom from the Word of God, and instruct them about the vanity of all here and its fleeting character, while you remind them of the heavenly glories that await all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus.
We repeat our warning against the many magazines and books which are for sale which purport to give wise counsel on the way to bring up children. For the most part these books are not only in error, but are definitely harmful. They stem from the infidel teachings of the day which say that a child does not have an evil nature, but that it is inherently good, and only its surroundings are bad. This is a plain lie which originated with the "father of lies.”
According to this "counsel of the ungodly," a child only needs a little instruction, and not correction or discipline. The modern way is to let the child develop naturally, and to call all his badness by another name. He is to follow his own bent without restraint. A euphemistic name has been coined for it —"self-expression"—but call it what they will, it is one of the chief causes of all the juvenile delinquency in the world. Through it Satan is laying the groundwork for the days of utter lawlessness which are to come.
Christian parents, do not be misled by the so-called psychological approach to child training. It is better by far to use the wisdom that comes from above. It is to be found in that inestimable treasure, the Word of God; and if problems present themselves to you that you do not know how to handle, you have a constant resource where perfect wisdom may be had —God Himself. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." James 1:55If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5).
Be sure of this, God knows best how children should be brought up. His Word says: "He that spareth his rod hat eth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Prov. 13:2424He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24). Would we wish to be without God's chastening? would we want to be left to our own bent? We ourselves are chastened at times and, why? "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." Heb. 12:66For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6). Another verse says, "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Prov. 19:1818Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18).
The rod should not be used in anger, nor with brutality, but in the fear of God and true love for the child. Discipline, however, is a solemn responsibility which cannot be overlooked without damage to the child, and eventual dishonor to the Lord. Any harsh or unfeeling manner in discipline can discourage children; it is to be used with a heart yearning over them for their good.
We could learn some important lessons in disciplining children by considering how our all-wise and all-loving Father disciplines us. In Heb. 12:1010For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:10) we read that our parents chastened us as seemed good to them (so it should read), but they may have lacked wisdom; not so with our Father, who chastens "for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." Thus discipline should be carried out thoughtfully and prayerfully for the child's good, with a certain end in view—the glory of God. Rashness and harshness in discipline should be sedulously avoided. The child should sense that the parents dislike to punish it, and that it is done in love with a view to proper training.
We read of a wise father who when he was walking with his son noticed an old crooked tree. He stopped, drew his son's attention to the ill-formed tree, and suggested to his little son that they try to straighten that tree. The son was old enough to know that it could not be done and told his father it was too late to do it. This gave the father a wonderful opportunity to explain that it was also necessary to correct children when they are young, and that was the reason he often corrected him, for he did not want to have him grow up like that crooked old tree.
It is true that children should obey their parents without questioning, but it is not wise for parents to wield their power arbitrarily without reason or explanation. The child quickly senses whether our actions are weighed and thoughtful, or perhaps even unfair. A father may have occasion to forbid the child to do something, or to go somewhere; is it not more effective if the fear of God is brought into the matter? Would it not be better to explain from the Scriptures the basis for his refusal?
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers, he said, "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children." 1 Thess. 2:1111As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, (1 Thessalonians 2:11). Paul had a father's heart toward the saints, and his statement emphasizes the part a father is to have in training his children. Paul's fatherly way with those believers was to exhort them, or to encourage them by bringing the Word of God to bear on their conduct; he also comforted them, and how could he do that without bringing in "the God of all comfort"? As an apostle he could charge them and testify to what their ways should be for God's glory. Read his word to them in the 4th chapter: "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
If fathers would read the epistles of Paul they would learn how he as a father admonished and instructed the saints. May God grant to the young fathers today more of this spirit in the disciplining of their children.
Paul also acted the part of a loving mother toward those saints; he said to them, I have been "gentle in the midst of you, as a nurse would cherish her own children." 1 Thess. 2:7,7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: (1 Thessalonians 2:7) J.N.D. Trans. Who can have a mother's heart but a mother? and yet Paul in his measure had such a heart for those dear Christians. Oh! the gentleness and graciousness with which he acted toward them! He might have acted quite arbitrarily as an apostle of Christ, and commanded what should be done, but read how he wrote to Philemon; he did not demand, but wrote in such a way that only a base and cold heart could have withstood his appeals.
What parents who have brought up children will not own that they have failed in the discharge of their God-given duty? And will not we all confess that our failure has been in a large measure due to lack of giving attention to these divine principles as found in the Holy Scriptures? Therefore, it is important that young fathers and mothers search the Word for that wisdom that comes from above, so that they may be able to guard their dear children from the dreadful influences abroad in the world. The world stream is getting more and more corrupt; the characteristic features of the antediluvian earth and of Sodom are fast coming back, as the Lord Himself said they would (see Luke 17:26-3026And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:26‑30)).
May God stir up the hearts of His people to the realization of the seriousness of the times in which we live, and of the dangers that beset our children.
“Mark you broad and rapid stream!
Brilliant though its surface seem,
Mingling in its depths below
Poisonous currents surely flow.
Christian parent, pause to think
On that treacherous river's brink,
Ere you launch your tiny bark
On those waters deep and dark.
Yours the path of Jesus here,
Seek it for your children dear.
Though you cannot life impart,
Cannot bow the stubborn heart,
Do not help to weave a chain
You would gladly break again.
Shall not He who for you died,
Food and raiment still provide?
He who has your children given,
He can bless for earth and heaven.
Seek then first His holy will,
Seek His pleasure to fulfill,
Constant still in faith and prayer
That this blessing they may share.
And when by the Spirit's power
Comes the gladly welcomed hour,
When the lips you love so well,
Of a Savior's grace shall tell,
They will have no cause to say
That you turned their feet astray;
Rather, from their earliest youth,
Taught and nurtured in the truth,
May their light unhindered shine,
To the praise of grace divine.”