By Randy Reynolds
Parents, wouldn’t it be nice if our children could grow up in a bubble isolated from every evil influence? Wouldn’t it be great if they would somehow avoid hearing vulgar language and not be exposed to so much ungodliness via television and music? Obviously all parents who are striving to do that which is right fear the sinful influences that their children must face on a daily basis. And at times most parents have tried to plan and scheme (at least in their minds) how they can provide a perfect environment for their children so that they can be protected from facing the temptation of worldliness. However parents soon discover that this place called utopia that they are seeking for their children does not exist. It’s probably a good thing that it doesn’t because if it did we would raise children who are severely handicapped.
What Can We Do?
Since we cannot realistically remove all evil influences from their lives, as parents what can we do? How can we assist our children in making the right choices?
First and foremost in my estimation is your child’s home environment. What do they see at home? (“What have they seen in your house?” cf. 2 Kgs. 20:15; Isa. 39:34). If we want our children to follow the Lord then we must show them what it means to love the Lord and put him first in our lives. Far too often our children see that we are not as committed as we tell them that they must be. Parents, our children are not stupid! As a matter of fact they are very intelligent and very observant individuals. Thus, we must demonstrate for them the life that we would have them to live in service to the Lord. They need to see with their own eyes what serving the Lord is all about.
Second, parents we must retake control of our homes and our children. We are the ones whom God has placed in charge. Yet in many homes the children have assumed command. They tell their parents where they are going, what they are going to do and when they will be back. Solomon clearly tells us that children are not capable of making all of their own decisions (cf. Prov. 22:15). Parents, we are the ones that God has placed in charge in the homes. We must be the one who make the decisions for our children until they are old enough and mature enough to make them for themselves.
Third, instead of focusing on placing our children into that perfect environment we should be concentrating on how we will raise them to love the Lord in spite of the ungodliness that they must face. The Bible shares with us the fact that Timothy grew up in Lystra (Acts 16:1,2). Do a little research on this Asia Minor city when you have the time. When you do you’ll find that Timothy grew up in an environment where idol worship was prominent. Generally idol worshippers were more immoral than those who had no religion at all. These were people who stoned Paul until they thought he was dead (Acts 14:8,20). Are you interested in trading environments with Timothy? Not me!
How did Timothy grow up to be the devoted follower of the Lord that he was? He was taught right from wrong. He was instructed to choose good and reject evil (cf. Prov. 22:6; Rom. 12:9; 1 Pet. 3:8-16). And the indication from Acts 16:1 is that Timothy was instructed in the way of right in spite of his father. Timothy was blessed with a mother and grandmother who truly loved God and his word (2 Tim. 1:5).
Fourth, prayer must be important to us as parents. I would like to think that I could be a perfect parent. I would like to thank that my example, along with all of my instruction that I have rendered, has been flawless. but it certainly doesn’t take long for us to swallow our pride and admit that we made mistake as parents. This is one of many places where prayer becomes very important. My prayer has been and continues to be, “Father please help my children to turn out alright in spite of my many mistake as their father. Help them, Father, to see that even though 1 do make mistakes that l am willing to repent and try harder the next time. Father, help them to see past the flaws in my imperfect example. Give me the courage, strength and wisdom to do better and to raise them in harmony with your will.”
Fifth, parents your children are going to make mistakes. It will be important how we deal with their mistakes. Sometimes we deal with their mistakes. Sometimes we would like to become like the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand. But that won’t help them nor will it help correct the wrong that has been committed. And we need to learn that we cannot correct their wrongs for them. That is their responsibility. We can instruct and guide in matters, but it’s their responsibility. It won’t help our children one iota if we either turn our heads or take their blame. And let me quickly add to that thought by saying, if we don’t teach our children the important of repentance for wrongs committed then they will soon lose their sorrow for sin. Apart from the many good things that my children have done and the good deeds that they have performed that continue to make me proud of them in my eyes, their greatest achievement continues to be their sorrow for sin and their voluntary willingness to repent.
Sixth, when a child admits wrong and tries to do better it’s time for celebration. I have learned many things from the account of the lost son that is recorded for us in Luke 15:11-32. Yet for a while I freely admit my focus in this passage was on the actions of the son, how he left and came back. But now my attention has been directed toward the actions of the father. While it is evident that the father rightfully demanded that his son repent for his wrong doing, it is the father’s attitude and actions toward his repentant son that fascinate me most. He didn’t continue to scorn his son over his sinful actions. Why? In my appraisal, simply because he was totally absorbed in celebrating his return!
Perhaps we can find a place in this world for our children where humanistic, atheistic, ungodly and immoral ways do not permeate the society. But until we do we’ll have to do the best we can where we are.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 10-11
August 5, 1993