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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 12, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 12: Principles of Parenting, Part 4
Over the last few sermons I have briefly described the decadent culture that we live in and given a brief history of how this nation has so radically changed from its foundation and with increasing speed as the decades go by. From a pamphlet put out by Rose Publishing I found the following information. Back in 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court came to a decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States. They had examined thousands of documents concerning the founding of the nation, including every state constitution as well as compacts leading up to the time of the American Revolution. After ten years of research, the court issued a unanimous decision that included the recognition that this nation is not only historically and culturally religious, but that the very system of government and our laws are based on a Christian worldview. Regarding this documentary evidence, the Court stated: “There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people.” “This is a religious people. . . this is a Christian Nation
That is our historical heritage, but it is not present reality. This nation has shifted so radically that Christians and Christianity are now regularly attacked in the media and by some politicians. What God says are abominations such as sexual perversions, lying, and pride are now promoted within society as being good. Those things are now called self esteem, alternative lifestyles and political spin. God has given warning after warning of His judgment on those who practice such evils as well as the nations that accept them. We have too many government officials whose evils have placed us under God’s judgment, but since this is a republic, the people can only blame themselves. Unless you are registered and then vote with godly wisdom, we will continue to have people with perverted morals leading our government. And let me remind you that our President, both U.S. Senators, Governor, State Senator and Assemblyman have all voted for homosexual marriage and for abortion. If you are not registered, then pick up a form from the literature rack and get registered so that you can join the effort to replace our current immoral officials with people who are have better morals.
The question for this morning is how do you raise your children to become responsible and godly young men and women in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation? The simple answer is by following the commands, principles and precepts in the word of God. Starting with Deuteronomy 6:4-9, you must love the Lord God yourself with all your heart, soul and strength and then diligently teach your children about Him and His commands at every opportunity throughout daily life. The answer is simple in theory, but hard to do because of the sinful bent that both we and our children have.
Parents can be proud, selfish and lazy so that in practice they love themselves more than God and seek to satisfy their own desires instead of sacrificially doing what is best before God and for their children. In addition, children come with foolishness bound up in their hearts, so parental work begins with an additional deficit. It will require a lot of diligence to over come these two hindrances as well as the negative pressure of society to bring children up to be wise.
If parents were on their own to accomplish this task, it would be overwhelming. Many parents are overwhelmed with the consequences being clearly seen in the societal decline of the younger generations. But Christian parents are not alone. One of the purposes of God’s formation of local churches is so that there can be both mutual accountability and ministry. Paul uses the analogy of a body in 1 Corinthians 12 to emphasize the point that everyone in the body needs the ministry of the other parts of the body. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 4:11-16 that we also need the mutual accountability in order to continue to mature and avoid being tossed about by “every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” As I pointed out last week, every parent here will need the help of the rest of the church in order to raise their children properly. Both the children and their parents need you to be a godly influence in their lives to help them walk in wisdom and withstand the pressures of this ungodly society to conform them to its foolishness (Romans 12:1-2). If your involvement is limited to the Sunday Morning worship service, then you are short changing yourself and the rest of the body. You need to be involved.
This also serves as two warnings. First, if you are allowing yourself to be compromised by the foolishness of this society and your own sin, then you will be a foolish influence on others. There is no room for anyone to be lazy. Each of us needs to be diligent in striving to walk in godliness both for our own sake and that of everyone else around us. Do you have a devotional life of personal Bible study and prayer? Are you serving in some kind of ministry? Are you involved with other believers so that there is mutual encouragement and accountability? If not, then that needs to change immediately. Those are basic elements of the Christian life, and without them you can expect to be compromised by the world and conformed to its standards instead of becoming like Christ.
Second, if you are not open to the critique and admonitions of others concerning yourself and your children, then you are wise in your own eyes, and you are included in the woe in Isaiah 5:21. Proverbs 3:7 specifically admonishes everyone not to “be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” You must heed the warning of Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” If you do not, then Proverbs 26:12 applies and there is more hope for a fool than you. Why, because a fool can still be answered according to his folly with a hope that the rebuke might cause him to repent and change (Proverbs 26:5), but what do you say to someone wise in their own eyes? Nothing can get through, and it does not take long before those who are wise leave you alone (Psalm 81:12; Matthew 15:14).
Being open to critique does not mean you have to agree and heed whatever advice or admonishments are given to you. You do not want to follow the counsel of the ungodly nor foolish advice that might come from those that might otherwise be godly. It does mean that you want to hear what others have to say and give it careful consideration for even a fool that is unfairly or ignorantly criticizing you or your children may still have some insight that might help you in becoming more of what God wants you to be. So when you are given advice or a criticism, stop, listen, evaluate and apply what is good as Proverbs 14:15 admonishes, “The naive believes everything, But the prudent man considers his steps.”
The wise man will go
father than just being open to critique. Wise people and wise parents seek out counsel from the godly even before there needs to be a correction. “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” (Proverbs 1:5). Ask those that are wise to evaluate you and make it easy for them to give you advice. That starts in the marriage by asking your spouse how you are doing in your role as a husband or wife. Then ask them how you are doing as a father or mother. Ask those who are wise and know your family what they see about you and your children. Where are you doing well and what needs to improve? When others watch your kids, ask them how they did and be serious about getting an answer. Most parents do not really want to hear negative things about their children, and few care takers will say anything about it unless it was very serious. You have to solicit their honest evaluation and respond well when the report is not so good. If there is an area you are working on, then ask specifically about it. Diane and I had to be a bit insistent at this at times, but we did because we really did want to know what our sons were like when they were away from us. Even though our sons are now adults, we still want to know the truth about them so that we can give them good counsel. You cannot do that without knowing the truth.
Parents have a lot of responsibilities within the family. We have already covered their Responsibility to God in loving Him themselves and diligently teaching their children by word and deed to know and obey God in all the situations of life. (See Principles of Parenting, Part 1). We have also already covered the first two areas of parental responsibility in the family. The first is for each to fulfill their role as husband or wife. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1 – The Foundation). You are their role model and how you treat one another and your own obedience to God will speak much louder than all the words you can say to them. The same is also true for single parents, for your children are watching you and all your relationships. The second area is teaching your children to obey you – the first time, right away and with a happy face. If you are not teaching them to obey you, then you are teaching them to sin. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 2).
Last week we spent most of our time talking about the different aspects to God’s commands for children to honor their parents. The obedience of young children is only part of that. It also includes actions and attitudes of respect by both young children and adult children. If you want your children to honor you, then you need to teach them to do so and part of that will be your example in honoring your parents. We honor our parents by our manner of speech and the things we do to show them respect. Specific actions will vary from cultural to culture, but in American culture it includes how you great them, the seat they are offered, serving them first, position in lines, opening doors for them, speaking and listening to them in groups, remembering and acknowledging days that are special to them, and providing for their real needs if necessary. Those things are a joy to do for those who have had good parents, and a difficult duty for those whose parents were not respectable and may have even been abusive, neglectful, or absent. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 3)).
There are two more areas of family responsibility about which parents need to teach their children – siblings and extended family. There are not many direct scriptures regarding these relationships, but there are many examples and principles that allow us to develop a clear understanding of responsibilities in these areas.
Responsibility to Siblings
First, all the principles we have discussed in previous sermons regarding friendship apply to siblings. (See: Proverbs on Friendship, Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4). Age and sex differences can make a big difference in how close siblings might be since those increase diversity in interests and maturity level, yet siblings should be taught to be friends and should develop close friendships as they get older. Job’s family is an example of that as Job 1:4 explains how his ten adult children took turns hosting the rest of the siblings for meals. There is much you can and should do to foster genuine friendship between your children. Psalm 133:1 expresses a similar thought, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!”
The fact that this idea now seems odd to many only demonstrates how parenting practices have deteriorated in the last couple of generations. Parents that allow sibling rivalry and selfishness among their children set them up to be adversaries instead of friends. That is not to say that this task is easy, for the Bible is filled with examples of such evil simply because man’s heart is sinful. The first pair of siblings came to a tragic end when Cain’s jealousy prodded him to murder Abel. Fratricide is recorded as often occurring among royal families as one sibling would seek to eliminate his rivals to the throne (Judges 9, 2 Chron. 21:4).
The family is the training ground for relationships. What your children learn within the family will have a direct impact on how they handle relationships outside the family. Your parenting will make a huge difference in not only how your children will get along with one another, but also how they will get along with others outside the home. You want to instill into your children character qualities such as humility, love, loyalty, confidentiality and honesty. Those are all necessary for any friendship. (See:Proverbs on Friendship, Part 3). At the same time, you will need to be corrective of them lest character qualities natural to their foolish bent become entrenched. Qualities such as being proud, selfish, a gossip, a liar, immoral, wicked, foolish, or hot tempered will destroy friendships. (See: Proverbs on Friendship, Part 2)
There are a couple of Proverbs that give strong warning about the danger of sibling conflict. Proverbs 6:19 lists “one who spreads strife among brothers” as one of the seven things which are abominations to God. Proverbs 18:19 should be a cause of alarm, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.” Be very diligent not only to both prevent and quickly put an end to any strife that your children create among themselves, but also doing the same to anything coming from outside influences. How do you do that?
If the strife is originating from an outside influence, eliminate it. The origin is often directly from people, but it could also be from activities that either feed a sinful bent in your child or one that puts foolish ideas in their minds. Any activity that is detrimental to your family’s cohesiveness should be diminished or eliminated until the problem is corrected. This includes things that might otherwise be good including sports and hobbies. The relationships between your children are more important than their involvement in an outside activity. Be especially aware of pride and jealousy developing. You do not want healthy competition to become siblin
There are several things you can do to keep pride and jealously from arising and sibling rivalry from developing. Romans 12:15 tells us that we are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Teach your children to be sensitive to one another. Teach them to be glad and express congratulations when a brother or sister achieves something or even wins the game they were playing. Teach them to be comforting and encouraging when a sibling has something bad happen to them, fails at something, or even loses a game. We purposely played competitive board games so that we could teach these principles to our sons. We did not want them to be either sore losers or obnoxious winners. Whoever won was required to encourage those he beat even as he received their congratulations.
Be aware of what is influencing what your children are thinking. You need to intervene and restrict what materials they may read, what music they may listen to and what they may view on TV, the internet or in theaters. Much of the secular entertainment mediums promote ideas about the family, relationships and morality that you do not want for your family. Secular entertainment often presents children that are disrespectful to one another and to parents in order to get a cheap laugh from the audience. The moral philosophies, or perhaps I should say the immoral philosophies, that are being taught through a variety of mediums including schools feed sin and selfishness that can cause strife in the family. You may need to reduced or cut out those things until the problem can be corrected. Teach them to heed wisdom’s call and to turn away from the enticements of foolishness.
People who cause conflict among siblings are not friends, so intervene and correct or end such friendships your children have with such people. Teach your children to have a greater loyalty to their brothers and sisters than to those outside the family. This is not to be a blind loyalty, for our loyalty is first and foremost to God and obeying His commands, so we are to side with righteousness in a conflict regardless of the relationship. But it is to say that outside friends are not to be allowed to become a wedge between brothers and sisters by what they say or do. This is generally more of a danger area for the older children since is it easy to become irritated at younger siblings. Immature friends can make it worse by inspiring it or provoking it further. Your children need to be taught to refuse to join in and not even allow anything cruel or mean to be done to any of their siblings including those things meant as a practical joke. Neither should they tolerate disparaging remarks, cut downs or humor at a sibling’s expense. If your children’s friends cannot be kind to all your children, then send them home until they can. If they cannot be at least civil, then they can leave and not return.
I want to take this a step farther than just avoiding strife and offending. There needs to be a loyalty taught among your children that will go deep so that they will both be and desire to be the first resource in trouble. Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” It is good to have friends, and even better to have friends that are close and loyal to love you at all times. As Proverbs 27:10 points out, there are times that a nearby neighbor is better than a brother far away. However, there should be a bond between siblings that goes even deeper than other friendships. We regularly reinforced this idea in our sons by telling them they were to be best friends now and would continue to be friends throughout their lives since they would have to interact with each other at family functions even after they grew up and left home. If they had a conflict, they were told they had to go work it out because they were brothers and friends.
Siblings are to be loyal and take responsibility for one another. Throughout the Scriptures the term “brother” is applied to people other than siblings to describe the depth and loyalty of the relationship. David did this in calling Jonathan “my brother” in 2 Samuel 1:26. Job called his friends “my brothers” in Job 6:15 in recognition of them being there with him even though their counsel was not helpful. Jesus used the terms “my brother and sister” for anyone that would do the will of His Father in Heaven (Matthew 12:50). This plus the fact that believers in Christ are adopted into God’s family has resulted in the terms brother and sister being used as general references to other Christians (Colossians 1:2). The word “brethren” is used 190 times in the New Testament and usually refers to fellow believers. We are also told to treat each other as brothers and sisters so we can get quite a bit of insight into how siblings should treat each other from this usage.
Brothers are to be devoted to one another in love and give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:10; Hebrews 13:1; 1 John 2:10; 3:14). This means teaching your children about the sacrificial and unselfish nature of love and helping them to put that into practice with their siblings. When they get older it will include helping to provide clothing and food to a sibling that may be in trouble and need help (James 2:15; 1 John 3:17; Ephesians 4:28). This love and care for one another is a mark of a healthy extended family.
Brothers are to strive to set a good example for each other (Galatians 4:12; Philippians 3:17). This is especially important for the older children because they are setting an example for the younger ones. This includes how they speak for James 3 warns the brethren about the use of the tongue and that blessings and curses should not be coming out of the same mouth (vs. 10). Brothers are to also have high integrity and be men of their word and so without swearing (James 5:12). It is also easier to set a good example when the mind is focused properly. Philippians 4:8 exhorts the brethren to have their minds dwell on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good repute, and is praiseworthy. This also helps reduce conflicts.
Heeding the exhortation in James 1:19 to “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” also greatly reduces conflicts from arising. Teaching the siblings to pray for each other (1 Thessalonians 5:25) will also help reduce conflict because it increases compassion and understanding while changing the focus to God’s will and pleasing Him instead of being selfish.
Brothers refrain from causing another to stumble into sin even if it means restricting their own freedom (Romans 14:13, 23; 1 Corinthians 8:13). They are not to grow weary in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13) and are to stand firm in the teachings of the Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:15) and remain steadfast in striving to do things the Lord’s way (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Brothers are to pay attention to one another so that they can respond properly as God would desire in admonishing the unruly, encouraging the fainthearted, helping the weak, and being patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Life will have trials, but siblings that seek to understand and help can go a long way in giving wisdom to overcome the troubles that come and rejoice as they recognize God’s hand at work in it (James 1:2-4, 16-17).
Brothers are not to speak against a brother in a judgmental way (James 4:11), nor be complainers about their siblings, which is just another form of judging (James 5:9). Brothers seek to turn back those who stray from the truth (James 5:19-20), but they do not regard one another as enemies, but admonish each other with tenderness and love (2 Thessalonians 3:15, 1 Timothy 5:1). Matthew 18:15-17 and Galatians 6:1-4 describes how such admonishment is humbly and gently given in private to help bear the burden of the one in sin with a goal of restoring them. It only escalates when the truth spoken in love is rejected and others are brought in to help turn back a brother who has strayed from the truth
of God. Let me expand on this briefly and show how to keep the improper application of it from creating a tattletale.
It is always proper for siblings to bring to a parent’s attention any serious issue of safety. Between their foolishness and lack of experience, it is easy for children to get themselves into situations that are dangerous and not recognize it. We taught our sons that they were to bring to our attention any question or issue regarding safety. It was also always proper for them to bring to our attention a conflict that had reached the second level described in Matthew 18:16. They had already tried and failed to work out the conflict and now needed help. We did not allow them to come to us first. They had to try to work it out between them first. There was one additional restriction. They were not allowed to be a tattletales. There had to be a genuine issue of safety and there had to be a genuine conflict they could not resolve on their own. They were not allowed to come and tattle on their brother just to get them in trouble. If they did that, they would receive the same punishment as the brother who was doing something wrong. We wanted them to have genuine concern for one another and make the effort to warn or resolve things, not create additional animosity by being a tattletale.
One additional important issue regarding siblings arises from James 2:1, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.” The passage then goes on to describe partiality in the church and why it was wrong. Parents must also be very careful not to show partiality or favoritism among their children, for to do so is to create and feed sibling rivalry. This does not mean you have to treat them all the same, for that is impossible, but you are to treat them equitably. What is the difference?
Each child is a unique individual with strengths and weakness and a personality that is different from the other children. You must treat them accordingly in order to achieve your goal of rearing them to be godly and responsible. The principles of parenting will remain the same, but your application of them will be adjusted to the child. Some children will be very stubborn and so you must be very firm with them. Other children will be compliant, but very hesitant and you will need to be very encouraging to them. Your children will also vary in their physical and mental abilities as well as emotional constitution so what they are involved in and what they are able to accomplish will vary a lot from child to child. Your expectations and what you do with them will also have to vary. You must learn to love each of your children the same though it will be expressed differently to each one. That is being equitable. Do not compare your kids to one another. Do not pay attention to one to the neglect of the others. Each child will receive praise for what they accomplish, encouragement and help where they need it, and chastening when they rebel.
Those are principles by which you can raise your children to be friends with each other. It is a worthy and worthwhile goal, though increasingly difficult in a society that has become adversarial to godliness.
A final word to those of you who do not have a friendship with your siblings and you do not have much hope of ever being close to them. You may even be estranged from them. That is sad and something to mourn over because it is part of the consequences of living on this sin cursed world. Your responsibility is simply to be obedient to God in doing your part. Romans 12:18 states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” If there is not a good relationship, be sure it is their sin and not your own that keeps it from being reconciled. And finally take heart from the second phrase of Proverbs 18:24, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” By God’s grace, you will have people in your life that fit that description, but ultimately it is filled in Jesus Christ. His promise is to never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and He will be with you always even till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down the scripture references and look them up later 2) Count how many times the term “sibling” is used. 3) Discuss with your parents how you can be better friends with your siblings.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What challenges face parents trying to raise godly children in current American culture? Why is it difficult to carry out the principles of Deuteronomy 6:4-9? How can the local church help parents fulfill their responsibilities? What must the parents do in order to be aided by the church? What is the danger of being “wise in your own eyes”? How do parents demonstrate this type of foolishness? Why is it important to receive counsel from outside your home? What are the parents responsibilities to God? What is the first priority of parents within the family? What is the first lesson children must learn in the family? What is the difference between obedience and honor? Why do all the principles of friendship apply to sibling relationships? What character qualities do you want to instill into your children? Which ones do you want to eliminate? What is the danger of causing strife between siblings? What outside influences can cause strife? How should those be confronted? What greater responsibilities does a sibling have than a friend? How can you train your children to be friends? How can you instill into them loyalty to one another? What can you do to prevent sibling rivalry? How can you keep a child from becoming a tattletale and still keep them coming to the parents with needed and proper information about their siblings? Why is favoritism by parents so damaging? Why can’t children be treated the same? Why must they be treated equitably? What factors must you consider in order to treat children equitably? If you and your siblings are not friends, what is your responsibility? What comfort is it to you to know that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother?
Sermon Notes – 8/5/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 4
The U.S. once was a Christian nation, but that is now only our past _____________
How do you raise children to become responsible & ___________ in a crooked & perverse generation?
Obeying Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is simple in theory, but difficult in practice because of __________
Christian parents are part of the body of Christ and are to be in ________________ with other believers
If you are being compromised by the world, you will be a _____________influence – and need to change
Do not be wise in your own _____(Prov. 3:7; 12:15; 26:5) – be open to critique, admonishment & advice
Evaluate all counsel through the grid of godliness and ____________ what is good – Proverbs 14:15
Seek out __________ counsel (Proverbs 1:5) to evaluate your marriage, your parenting and your kids
Parents are responsible to love ________ and teach their childre
n to know Him and His commandments
The first priority of parents in a family is fulfilling their ___________ as husband & wife
The second priority of parents in a family is teaching their children to ____them (Eph. 6:1; Exod. 20:12)
Parents need to _____________ their own parents and then teach their children how to honor them
Honor includes actions and attitudes of ______________
Responsibility to Siblings
Parents that allow sibling rivalry and selfishness set their children up to become __________, not friends
The family is the _________________ ground for relationships
_______ activity detrimental to family’s cohesiveness should be diminished or eliminated until corrected
Do not let pride, jealousy or sibling _____________ develop – Romans12:15
Be aware of _______influences on your children: books, internet, TV, movies, etc. and restrict as needed
People who cause conflict among siblings are not friends – ________________ as needed
Teach your children to be ________to one another and the first resource during trouble – Proverbs 17:17
Responsibilities of Brothers (Siblings)
Be careful in ______________ having high integrity so without swearing (James 3:1-10; 5:12)
_______that dwell on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good repute, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)
Be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19)
______________ for each other (1 Thessalonians 5:25)
_______________properly to need of the moment: admonish, encourage, help, be patient (1 Thess. 5:14)
Help one another understand & overcome troubles ________in seeing God at work (James 1:2-4; 16-17)
Not be judgmental or complaining, yet turning back those who stray from _____(James 4:11, 5:9, 19-20)
___________sin personally, humbly & gently, to bear the burden & restore (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-4)
Issues of safety and help in working through conflict is brought to parents, but _________is not allowed
Parents must not show _________________ or it causes and feeds sibling rivalry
Treat your children __________according to their individual strengths, weaknesses and personality traits
If you & your siblings are not friends, then _____________ your role anyway – Romans 12:18
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