By Mike Willis
Brother Irven Lee has repeatedly cited the example of Lois and Eunice rearing Timothy as a godly child in the midst of great ungodliness. He reminded us that Christian parents should not despair; we can still have a godly family during an ungodly age. The success of Eunice is magnified by the remembrance that her husband was not a believer (Acts 16:3).
The Advantage of Godly Parents
We who have been privileged to be reared by faithful Christians have much for which to be thankful. “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22). Unfortunately, some children of godly parents rebel against God and speak derogatorily about their godly parents. “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction” (Prov. 15:5). Wishing to avert responsibility for their choice to disobey God (every individual has free moral agency), these renegades against God try to lay the blame for their ungodliness at the feet of their righteous parents. They say, “I don’t go to church now because mother and daddy made me go when I was little.” Rather than depreciating their parents in my eyes by such a comment, these ungodly children have complimented their parents. Even as their parents taught them the value of education and cleanliness against their childish protests, they also had the wisdom to teach them to worship God. They should thank their parents for this instruction instead of condemning them.
Here are some benefits which I have personally received from having been reared by godly parents:
1. A stable home environment. My father and mother never divorced one another and tore us children apart in trying to win our affection. We could depend upon our home being together throughout our childhood. We were not thrown around to uncles and aunts who did not want us; we were not put in homes to be raised at government expense.
2. An atmosphere of love. We knew we were loved by our parents. We never witnessed child abuse, either physical or verbal. Being the sixth of seven children, I would probably have been aborted by many of today’s mothers. However, my parents never made me feel unwanted or unloved.
3. An honorable name. Though my parents were never wealthy, the community always respected them as honorable people. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1).
4. Training for living. My parents taught me to work, even enjoying much of it while I was doing it. They taught us how to manage money, how to get alone with others, industriousness, and other virtues which enable one to succeed in life.
5. Religious training. My parents also taught us to distinguish right from wrong. They emphasized the role of the Bible in determining right and wrong and then taught us the Bible. How privileged I am to have been reared by Christians who introduced me to Christ, taught me the plan of salvation, showed me the New Testament church, exposed immorality and sinful behavior, exemplified biblical teachings about marriage, etc.
I thank my God in heaven for having been raised by Godfearing parents. May I never blame my failures upon them!
Mistakes Some Parents Make
Not all parents have the same success in rearing godly children. Indeed, some godly parents have children who turn out to be rebellious and disobedient to God. They have done their jobs as parents but the children, sometime under peer influence or something else, choose to live a different lifestyle.
There are some occasions when parents’ mistakes are obvious and result in “provoking children to wrath” (Eph. 6:4) or otherwise making the children unprepared for life. Here are some mistakes which parents make:
1. Too much guidance. Some parents smother their children with too much guidance. Their children are never able to make a decision of their own; they are never allowed to make a mistake and learn from their mistake by suffering its consequences. These children will be immature.
2. Threatening. Some parents take a dictatorial attitude toward child-rearing (“So long as you are under my roof . . .” ). The parents have the right to manage their home according to their best judgment and the children need to recognize this; however, when this becomes the primary means of controlling behavior, the child decides that he will live like he pleases when he turns eighteen. I have seen several families whose children attended worship faithfully until they turned eighteen and then the children left home and became wild.
3. Teaching children to put other things before Christ. I have witnessed parents inadvertently teaching their children that school work, ball games, recreational activities and jobs takes precedence over the demands of Christ on one’s life. This is done by parents who allow their children to miss worship in order to attend these events. Children are brought up believing that they should attend worship if nothing else is scheduled for that evening.
4. Unfair comparisons. Some children are driven to despair and deep-seated anger by constant comparisons with others. Not all children have the same abilities. When one with little math ability is compared to a sibling who excels in math, he may work to his best potential and never achieve the same level of excellence. As parents, we need to give children room to be themselves, encouraging them to reach their own potential, not someone else’s potential.
There are many other ways that we fail as parents. Our children cannot expect perfect parents anymore than parents can expect perfect children. Where affection and love predominate, our failures can be forgiven and heal (1 Pet. 4:8).
Some Biblical Admonitions For Parents
The Bible teaches parents how to be successful. Here are some of its instructions:
1. Teach your children the Bible. “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psa. 78:5-7; cf. Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:14,15).
2. Provide a good example to your children. Christians should manifest an “unfeigned faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Children are able to detect the slightest hypocrisy. Parents who drink cannot successfully teach their children to avoid, strong drink; parents who have a “live-in” boyfriend/girlfriend cannot teach their children to “flee fornication.” You cannot hide what you are from your children. They know whether or not you curse, drink, smoke, steal, etc.
3. Show them the right priorities. Jesus taught us to “seek . . . first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33), putting our obligations to God above our obligations to anyone else (Lk. 14:26). My children will see me give up personal pleasures in order to serve God, if I truly put Christ first in my life. They will see sacrificial giving on the first day of the week, attendance at worship services even when it is not convenient, helping with work days at the building, and many other forms of service which indicate to them how important the Lord is in my life.
4. Lead them to Christ. The parent should teach his child how to be saved, discuss the Devil’s efforts to keep him from being saved, and otherwise direct him toward the salvation which Christ revealed to mankind. If I see the necessity of talking to my friends about Jesus, I should also see the necessity of talking to my children about eternal life.
The impact of a Christian’s life is enhanced by faithful children. Our efforts to teach the world will carry greater weight when our families demonstrate by their lives the truths which we affirm. May God help every parent among us to rear God-fearing children.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 3, pp. 66, 86
February 4, 1988