Of all our earthly relationships there is none more important than family. God created it to be an ongoing source of strength, comfort and instruction as well as a trusted place of safety and nurturing. The family unit is the school of life and the Bible has much to say about how to run this school. Most importantly, God must be kept in first place. First in our personal lives and first in our households as the true head, the real Lord of the family.
Extended families can grow quite large including grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Whether by blood or marriage some families could fill a baseball field. Being a family member is a lifetime commitment ordained by God and both husband and wife are responsible for holding it together, no one is disposable.
The home is a child’s first exposure to the love and truth about God. When we are patient and kind, supportive and understanding and every time we forgive and ask to be forgiven we are modelling the love of Christ. This also means correction and discipline when necessary just as long as it is a thoughtfully measured response. As parents, we hope that our children will listen when instructed and learn when disciplined and not become rebellious. God wants the same thing with us, His children. Proverbs 3:11-12.
A child’s experiences at home have everything to do with how they are able to relate to God, so be very careful how you treat these little ones. Still, the fact remains, that even if you have done your very best to “Train them up in the way they should go…” Proverbs 22:6 they sometimes go a different way. Being raised in a Christian home does not guarantee that you will live a Christ centred life. It is a deeply personal choice that every human heart must make for themselves. As parents, there is nothing our kids could do to cause us to stop loving them, guiding them and praying for them…nothing. This is what God desires for the family.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour then His Holy Spirit now dwells in your heart and His redemptive work of regeneration has begun. That being said, it is now impossible for you to sin and not be convicted. We can ignore the conviction and continue doing things our own way but at some point we must come to repentance. Years ago I heard a statement that I have often recalled, “Christian, change your behaviour or change your name.” The longer we ignore conviction and refuse to alter a sinful lifestyle the more the family unit will suffer. Children learn from their parents. Having been literally banished from my “Christian” family many years ago Psalm 27:10 brought me great comfort. “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.” God is my Father, He is steadfast, merciful and full of love.
There is no such thing. People either have Christ or they don’t. It’s tempting to say, “they can’t be a real Christian” whenever we witness sinful behaviour in a professing believer, especially when we’re on the receiving end. Sometimes you’d be right, and sometimes you’d be wrong. When a new believer truly opens their heart to Jesus, He takes up permanent residency inside that person and begins His work of regeneration and instruction. This takes time…a lot of time. Our free will and our sinful nature can impede our growth in Christ. Once God’s Holy Spirit has come into your heart you are “born again.” You are adopted into His family and sent to school, so to speak. A child of God in His kindergarten is just as real and just as saved as an honour grad in His university. The difference being that the kindergarten student has yet to learn a great deal. That being said, there are things to look for in the life of a true believer. There should be evidence like the “fruit of the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-23.
Satan has been attacking families since the beginning. He hates the family and goes to great lengths to destroy it. The primary reason for this is that the believing household is where the Gospel is taught and hopefully, demonstrated. I say “hopefully” because far too often we parents hold our children to a higher standard than we have obtained ourselves. Children tend to imitate our behaviour much more than they obey our words. Not only does the devil want to prevent the teaching of God’s Word in Christian homes but he also uses members of unbelieving homes to lure these little ones away. Witnessing the actions of an unbelieving and undisciplined world can be a powerful draw to both children and adults alike. Choose your friends carefully and your spouse even more so.
Parents often quote “Children, obey your parents” from Ephesians in an effort to get the kiddos to fall in line. They are leaving out important information here. Read Ephesians 6:1-4. Notice the “do not exasperate your children” part? Discipline is necessary and sometimes a child will become angry because of it, that is perfectly okay. Not provoking your child to anger means to be careful that you use appropriate means to correct poor behaviour. Pick your battles and be sure that they line up with what God’s Word says. Discipline produces respect, first in the home and then toward God. This will spill over into all aspects of their lives later on. Respect for police, judges, government, co workers and neighbours.
It’s easy to see when and where others fall short, not so easy to judge ourselves. Only when we are in a right relationship with God and are open to His guidance will we be able to influence a hurting world for Christ in the appropriate manner. Not long ago my failures far outnumbered my victories, now victory is far more common than the occasional failure. This is God at work.
If children are not taught obedience and respect in the home then they feel free to do as they please in all aspects of their life. If they don’t learn that there are consequences to their actions, then they will learn the hard way, the world’s way. Teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease and abortions continue to rise at an unprecedented rate in many areas of the world. The examples you set for your children and the lifestyle choices you make is the best way to teach them self-control and godly behaviour. Not saying no is as good as saying yes to a child. It is every parents God given duty to follow the instructions spelled out in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Whenever we stray from God’s original template for the family we will have trouble. Any time society re-defines what a family should look like, watch out.
“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Pope John Paul ll
As important as our earthly families are in God’s eyes, more important by far is our membership in His heavenly family. This has been a huge comfort to me in the loss of my family of origin. Being part of God’s spiritual family means all those who are heaven bound are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have a very large family. Matthew 12:46-50. Jesus is not dismissing His biological family as unimportant, He is making the clear theological point that the most important family connection is spiritual, not physical.
It’s hard to watch our children struggle with various issues as they enter adulthood. Love makes this part of parenting very difficult and painful. Our first reaction is to rush in and help solve the problem, help ease the pain. Knowing when help is actually helping and not hindering God’s ongoing work in our children’s lives is something we ourselves must learn as parents. A recent news feed article caught my eye. It’s called, “‘Snowplow parenting’ is preventing young adults from learning basic life skills” by Arti Patel. She talks about the dangers and damage done by parents who continually jump into rescue mode and fight their children’s battles for them. They make appointments for them, wake them up in the morning and even call their children’s place of work if there is an issue. This runs a very high risk of the child being incapable of coping in the world as an adult and can lead to mental health issues, relationship problems and even overall hygiene.
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Snowplow Parenting by Arti Patel