Our own children are among our most valuable possessions, for they are eternal souls. Material possessions, our accomplish-ments, many things which we have counted worth giving our hours and days and years, our very lives, to acquire, will all be left behind forever one day. The human spirit alone is immortal.
Our children, as a part of ourselves, are a very special, and holy, gift from God to us. A gift - and a solemn responsibility. We are accountable to the heavenly Father who entrusted them to our care for the way we raise them. Being given the privilege of parenthood is no light or casual matter. Not at all.
It is very clear from the Word of God that it is His desire that we raise them for Him - that is, according to His will and His guiding principles. It is not enough for each of us as individuals to come to a right relationship with our Creator, and to “walk in the light”, live by His truth. For He will also ask us one day, “Where are the children I gave you?” If we are “commissioned” to the high job-assignment of being parents, we must teach and guide our children. The irrevocable duty is placed upon our shoulders to teach them “the way in which they should go.” If we neglect this God-given duty, or minimize its significance, nothing can compensate for the loss of the essential benefits in the lives of our children that can come solely from this personal labor of love. Yes, absolutely, it will require sacrifice on our part. But, the promise of God is that our labor will not be in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58)
Children cannot be left to raise themselves, nor can they be raised by their peers. It is sad but true that if we let children choose for themselves, they will choose wrong- since we are all born with a decided bias toward waywardness. It comes naturally to us to do what is wrong! Any honest mother will recognize this with certainty even in her tender infant. “Foolishness,” the wise Solomon wrote, “is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15); and also, “A child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). If we are to deal wisely with our children, we must not leave them to be guided by their own wills, by their own likings and desires - because the child cannot yet know what is good for his mind or his soul, any more than for his body. We must be persuaded that much of their welfare, as children and as the adults they will inevitably become, depends on us. Author J.C. Ryles wrote in the mid-1800’s (in The Duties of Parents) that one of God’s merciful arrangements is that “He gives your children a mind that will receive impressions like wet clay. He gives them a disposition at the starting point of life to believe what you tell them, and to take for granted what you advise them, and to trust your word rather than a stranger’s. He gives you, in short, a golden opportunity of doing them good. See that the opportunity be not neglected and thrown away. Once let slip, it is gone forever.”
The first steps in any undertaking are always of great importance. Our children’s character will take on the shape of the mold in which they were cast in their earliest years. Why would we as parents give up to anyone else the oversight of this crucial time in the lives of these little ones who are so precious to us? It is our grand privilege to be the greatest influence in their young lives - if we will.
Above all else, it should be of utmost importance to us who are blessed by God to be parents, that no interest that concerns our children should carry more weight on our hearts than their eternal interests. In all our plans, efforts, and arrangements for them, we would be wise to ask ourselves, "How does this affect their eternal spirits - that part of them that will never die?" We must teach and train always with an eye to our children's souls. Our choice to make it a top priority to invest our diligence and our dedication in thus training our children may put us in a minority. Other people may consider us strange, "different," or fanatic. So what?! The time is short. Everything in this world - all its glory - is destined to pass away. J. C. Ryles wrote: "He who has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth - for God, rather than for man - will be called wise at last."One of the most spiritual things we could ever do (a thing which greatly pleases God, our heavenly Father) is to be a faithful parent.
"For I know ('know that I can depend on') Abraham, that he will command his children to keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him" (Deuteronomy 18:19).
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Note: This word "train up" in Hebrew literally means "touch the palate" (that is, as parents, we should whet the appetite for, cultivate a taste for, help our children hunger and thirst for - right things).
In this section, I will share with you simple conversations that I have had with my two children. Through most of their growing up years, I included time in our schedule on a regular basis for sitting down comfortably together in the living room to share my thoughts with them for a little while. Also, my husband and I continually were alert for "teachable moments" throughout the course of our daily lives as we interacted together as a family. He also frequently set aside windows of his time to teach and to counsel the children, together or individually, sincerely desiring to instill proven principles of wise living into their heart perspectives and thinking patterns. My hope is that what I share here with you, merely as simple examples, may inspire your interest and imagination, and encourage you to set your heart to take seriously the loving guidance of your children.
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