Bible Study Opportunities
“Behold, Children are a Gift of the Lord"
By Jon W. Quinn
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with some prospective first time parents. They seemed eager to welcome their new baby into the world and voiced their concern about being good parents. They felt that in order to be successful that they would need God in their lives. Of course I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, the only way to have a successful family is to obey God's instructions to the family! Some may disagree with that statement. They may point to some reasonably successful families of unbelievers. But think; what makes those families "successful" ? Isn't it because there is love for one another? Respect and unselfishness? How about patience and forbearance? You see, these unbelievers are actually, perhaps even unknowingly, applying what the Lord has said to their family relationships and are profiting by it. They are not so doing because God said, but because they have determined from their own observation that this is indeed the best way to live. Such a family will enjoy some success, but it cannot be what it ought to be without God. It cannot do anything to help prepare its members for eternity! The title of this article, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord", is taken from PSALM 127:3. This particular Psalm begins with another important statement: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (PSALM 127:1). This article is dedicated to parents; past, present and future; who have determined to receive the Lord's gift and build their houses as is approved by the Lord. PROVOKED, ANGRY, EXASPERATED AND BROKEN OF SPIRIT "And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (EPHESIANS 6:4). "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart" (COLOSSIANS 3:21). I suppose that there is nothing as frustrating as doing your best while still not pleasing your critic. If this critic happens to also be your parent then the problem is compounded. If the expectations are unreasonable (demanding that a five or ten year old "act like an adult", for example), or insisting on perfection then trouble will likely result. Parental injustice, favoritism or simple indifference will certainly provoke anger and resentment. But perhaps one of the most common problems would be that of parental inconsistencies. "Do as I say and not as I do" are the words of a person without integrity. A dishonest parent insisting that his children be honest is a hypocrite. A parent who picks up the phone and covers the mouthpiece and says to the spouse "Its your boss, are you here?" is obviously quite willing to lie if lying is convenient. Or how about the parent who tells his children about how important God is while rarely making Him a part of their lives? The parent is the first example that the child sees and is going to help mold his outlook on life. He is going to learn to be honest and faithful, or he is going to learn how to pretend to be, or he is going to become so resentful that he won't even pretend. THE DISCIPLINE AND INSTRUCTION OF THE LORD "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lay down and when you rise up" (DEUTERONOMY 6:6,7). The time to begin building the basics is at the beginning of life. Some basic concepts to be taught to children so that godly characters are produced are: 1. A work ethic. Things worth doing are worth doing well. The child of God seeks to do all things well so he can be like his Lord. "Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (PROVERBS 16:3) 2. Perseverance. This quality is needed to overcome problems, both physical as well as spiritual. Finishing what is started is an important lesson to learn. As Paul summed up his life, he said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (II TIMOTHY 4:7). 3. Self-discipline. This is also a needed key to self-improvement. By this we are able to set goals and examine ourselves to see how to improve so we may reach those goals. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (II CORINTHIANS 13:5). 4. Cooperation. Learning to work well with others and make a contribution is important to fulfill ones responsibilities in the home, school, job and of course, the local church. "Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near" (HEBREWS 10:25). It is certainly clear that one who learns these lessons is going to have a more successful life all around. It is not at all surprising that these principles have been revealed in the Scriptures for generations. Teach your children well! THINGS CHRISTIANS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (PROVERBS 22:6). Leaving the general principles behind, there are some things of special importance unto Christians that need to be instilled in our children. Children should be able to see that their parents are thankful for them and that they are considered as special blessings from the Lord. Certainly, the parents need to teach by both example and word such important ideals as a genuine love and respect for God and His word. Children should be taught how to maintain purity and how to deal with their own sexuality. They should understand that God, their heavenly Father, loves them very much, just as their earthly parents do. They should be taught that sin is heinous and should be made aware of its consequences. They should be taught about the Lordship of Christ, what He expects out of us, how to obey Him and that they have a part to play in God's purpose. That makes them important!
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois April 21, 1991