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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 19, 2012
Proverbs on the Family, Part 13, Principles of Parenting, Part 5
I found some interesting quips about the family. Ogden Nash said, “family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women and occasional animal, and the common cold.” There were years I thought the common cold dominated. Someone made the astute observation, “Having a big family around is a good way to make sure there will always be someone to answer the phone – and forget the message.” When it comes to extended family, one unknown person said, “Every family tree always produces nuts.” Someone else quipped, “The best part of some family trees is underground.” Perhaps that is why A. Mizner said, “God gives us relatives; thank God we can choose our friends.” Or perhaps he had a sibling like the one described by the person who said, “My kid brother was sent from heaven – they must like it quiet up there.”
Those are humorous, but the comment by Peter de Vries is closer to what I have been preaching about during this series. “Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring themselves arrive? The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.” The responsibility that comes with children often does force adults to mature. I have often said that I married in part to understand the nature of God’s love and learning to love someone else helped that tremendously. However, it was not until we had children that I really began to get a glimpse of the unconditional nature of God’s love. Let’s be realistic. What do infants give you? Dirty diapers, spit up, crying and an occasional smile, yet the godly mother and father are joyful to have that child and would give anything they have for the child’s well-being. They will sacrifice for their child far beyond what they would even do for themselves. God’s love is beyond even that for He extended His love for us while we were yet sinners and at enmity with Him (Romans 5:8,10, Ephesians 2:16). The responsibilities of having children greatly encourages maturity in adults, or at least it should. Tragically, not all adults do mature and their children will suffer for it.
Our goal as Christian parents is to raise children that will become adults who are responsible and reflect godly character. You do that by following the principle set forth in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in loving the Lord God with all your heart, soul and strength and then diligently teaching your children about God and His commandments in all the activities of life – when you “sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” That is your responsibility before God. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 1). I cannot emphasize enough the importance of you loving God first because your children will learn more by your example than your words. James Baldwin recognized this in saying, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
Your example as the parent will be the most important to them, but everyone around them will also have an influence. That is why I stressed so strongly the need to be involved in the body life of the church. Every parent needs the mutual accountability and encouragement of other believers. That includes being humble to hear and consider criticism of yourself and your children. Remember, the goal is to glorify your Creator by becoming more like Christ, so don’t let pride block that goal by making you wise in your own eyes so that you continue to walk in foolishness or even sin. That would be detrimental to you and your children.
The mutual ministry that is to occur within the local church is to result in the whole body and each person in it maturing, so this applies to everyone here. Make sure that you are having your own time with the Lord in personal Bible study and prayer, and get involved with other believers. Join a small group Bible study and / or serve in a ministry. A lot of ministries get started in September, but you can get involved now by seeking out others personally. Part of the reason for the church picnic we had yesterday was so that people could get to know each other better and develop deeper relationships for mutual accountability and ministry.
There are many areas of responsibility that we have before God. I have already covered most of the topic of responsibility to family. The first responsibility for parents is for each to fulfill their role as husband or wife. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1 – The Foundation). You are the role model for your children in how to handle relationships. The second parental responsibility in the family area is the first responsibility for children in the family. Children are to obey their parents the first time, right away and with a happy face. Children are in sin if they do not, and if you are not teaching them to obey you, then you are teaching them to sin. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 2). The third area of responsibility in the family is children honoring their parents. This includes actions and attitudes of respect by both children and adults toward their parents. The obedience of young children is only part of it. Adults need to honor their parents even though they have their own family. Leaving your parents and cleaving to your spouse means there is a change and the new family you have started is now the priority, but that does not negate honoring your parents. Honor them by your manner of speech and your actions toward them that demonstrate respect. In doing so, your example will be teaching your own children to honor you. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 3).
Last week I covered the area of responsibilities in the family toward siblings. All the principles we have discussed in previous sermons regarding friendship apply to siblings for brothers and sisters are to become close friends as they get older. (See: Proverbs on Friendship, Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4). To accomplish this, parents must be very careful not to allow sibling rivalry to develop for that would result in becoming adversaries instead of friends. Do not foster it yourself by any kind of favoritism. You cannot treat your children exactly the same because each of them will be unique individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, but you are to treat them equitably. They are praised, encouraged, corrected or admonished according to their own part
icular needs. Reduce or even eliminate outside influences that create or feed pride or jealousy. Outside influences include not only friends, but things such as books, magazines, music, internet materials, entertainment media and even school which could put foolish ideas into their minds.
You want to teach your children to be and desire to be the first resource in trouble as suggested in Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Siblings actually do have a responsibility to help one another beyond just words of encouragement, comfort or admonishment as needed, but even to the extent of physical help including food and clothing if needed. Develop in your children the character traits needed for friendship such as humility, love, loyalty, confidentiality and honesty, and then teach them to be friends. (See: Principles of Parenting, Part 4).
Responsibility to Extended Family
The final area of family responsibilities I want to cover is responsibility to the extended family. There are few verses that directly address this issue, but there are many examples and principles that enable us to develop an understanding of our responsibilities to our extended family. This would include grandparents and the various aunts & uncles and cousins in previous, concurrent and following generations. These would be all the people invited to the family reunion. This may not seem to be that important to those with small families, but the principles here apply whether the family is large or small.
We will start with grandparents. We are to honor them in the same ways we would honor our parents, except more so because of their greater age. You greet them with respect, give them seats of honor, serve them first, pay attention to them, recognize days that are special to them and provide for material needs if necessary. 1 Timothy 5:4 specifically mentions children and grandchildren as those who have first responsibility in caring for a widow. But the responsibility also goes the other way too. Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” A man that is able to do that will leave a double inheritance for his descendants. There will be whatever material goods, but more importantly will be the legacy of character in hard work, self-control and wise planning that are all part of building an estate.
Relatives who are older should receive the honor due their age. This again goes back to Leviticus 19:32, “You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.” This would include your parents and grandparents as well as their brothers and sisters – your various aunts and uncles. It would also include their cousins – your second and third cousins who are of the previous generations. The older they are, the higher position of honor they should be given.
What about those relatives such as cousins that are in your own age group? There is not an obligation to give them honor as you would those who are older, nor are there the obligations due to siblings. However, there is a greater obligation to all your relatives – various aunts & uncles and cousins – than to the general population. This comes from the principle of “kinsman” in the Old Testament of who had the right of inheritance (Numbers 27:11), to receive restitution (Numbers 5), or to redeem land that had been sold to keep it within the proper family (Leviticus 25). As the book of Ruth demonstrates, the redemption of the land also included the obligation to care for the childless widow. Our own laws still follow these patterns for if there is not a will, then inheritance and obligations to care for minor children follow a “next of kin” hierarchy.
We also see a pattern of care for extended family in the scriptures. Abraham set out to free his nephew, Lot, and his family when they were taken captive (Genesis 14). Joseph provided for his father and his brothers and all of their families (Genesis 45, 47 & 50). One of Job’s complaints was that his relatives had failed him in the midst of his suffering (Job 19:14). David had a similar complaint in Psalm 38:11. It is based on this pattern that Paul says in Galatians 6:10, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” So while the obligation to your relatives is not as great as to your immediate family, it is greater than to the general population. This is also true of Christians toward other believers.
The depth of family loyalty will vary from culture to culture and family to family. Where it is strong, extended family will take care of one another and usually neighbors too. I saw this when hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi. My extended family in Mississippi helped one another – aunts & uncles as well as first, second and third cousins – and their neighbors too. Where family loyalty is weak, then people wait for a charity or government to come to the rescue such as was common in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
There is a caution on responsibility to family. When family loyalty transcends everything else, you end up with battling clans such as the Hatfields and McCoys or the Montegues and the Capulets in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. A case of this occurs in Judges 20. The worthless men of Gibeah had raped and abused a visitor’s concubine causing her to die. Instead of having a greater loyalty to God and righteousness in bringing about justice, their kinsmen, the tribe of Benjamin, defended them resulting in a civil war with the other tribes of Israel. The primary loyalty of every Christian is to be to God and therefore obedience to His commands is more important than any family tie.
Responsibility to Society
Parents also need to teach their children about their responsibilities to society. This includes those in authority, peers and society at large.
Authority – As Christians we start with the highest position of authority which is God and then work our way down. Our allegiance is to God first even if human authorities do not like it and persecute us for it. We saw this in our study of Daniel 3 when Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused to disobey God and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol and so were thrown into the fiery furnace. Daniel refused to obey King Darius’ command to not pray to anyone except himself for 30 days and so was thrown in the lions’ den (Daniel 6). In these two cases God miraculously rescued them, but there have been countless martyrs who refused to disobey God in order to obey men. Like Peter and the apostles in Acts 5:29 they proclaimed, “we must obey God rather than men,” and willingly paid the price. We must follow that same example.
We are to submit to the various levels of human authority as long their commands are not in contradiction to God’s commands. The Biblical command and principle is found in several places. In Romans 13:1-2 Paul explains, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Paul then goes on to explain the purpose of government in being a minister of God to bring praise to those that do good and fear to those that do evil. For those reasons we
“Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7). Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 repeat the same theme. We are to even pray for them as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 directs, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for king
s and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
We are to teach our children to show respect to every authority over them. This includes government officials, police, fire officers, military, school officials, teachers, instructors, coaches, church leaders, the boss at work, etc. This means they are to be courteous in their speech and compliant in their manner. Since those in authority are not peers, proper titles should be used when addressing them – “officer,” “your honor,” “sir,” “Mr.,” “Mrs,” “Miss.,” “coach,” etc. Do not allow your children to speak or act disrespectfully toward any authority whether it is in their presence or not. That of course means you must set the example for them. Be careful of slang language, sarcasm and humor for they all can be disrespectful if you are not very careful and even then it often is still disrespectful. You can strongly disagree with an authority and even despise those that are reprobates (Psalm 15:4) and yet still show respect for their position of authority. The prophets gave very strong rebukes to kings, yet still did so with respect for their position. The examples in Daniel and Acts show that even if the commands of men must be disobeyed because they conflict with Gods commands, the refusal is still done with respect.
What about when those who are older or those who have a superior position are disrespectful to you? The natural response would be to respond in kind, but that is also the sinful response. 1 Timothy 4:12 gives us the answer, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” In other words, when that happens to you, prove them to be wrong by the demonstration of your character. Though they should be mature and instead act with immaturity, you respond with maturity though you are still young. Your character serves as a rebuke to them and an encouragement to behave the same way to other Christians.
Peers – We have already seen that honor is to be given to those who are older and to those in authority over you, but what about peers – those who are of the same age, status or ability? No, you do not have to serve them first like an elder. No, you do not have to obey their commands. But you are responsible to treat them with courtesy and respect.
The difficulty with peer relationships is that leadership is not well defined and this leads easily to jealousy and rivalry. If there is a great age difference, the leadership role is taken on by the older person. This is pragmatic in childhood because if the other kid is a foot taller and 50 lbs heavier there is not much of a contest about who makes the decisions. Grammar school kids do not challenge high school seniors. This is also pragmatic in the areas of ability and authority. A white belt in karate does not take on a black belt. Employees will do what the boss says to avoid the risk of getting fired. But what if it is two high school seniors, two black belts and two employees with the same title? That leaves a lot of room for jealousy and rivalry and immature Christians can get caught up in that as much as anyone else.
However, as followers of Christ, we are to have a different approach to everyone around us, and we are to teach that way of life to our children. Following 1 Peter 5:5, the younger men are subject to their elders and everyone is to be clothed with humility. Following various Proverbs, those who desire to become wise seek out to learn from those who are already wise. Following Colossians 3:23, employees do their work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men for it is the Lord Christ whom they serve. Following Philippians 2:3-4, with humility of mind others are regarded as more important than self so that the interests of others takes precedent over self interest. That applies directly to peers so that jealousy, envy or rivalry is dealt with quickly or does not rise at all. Humility is the key to being able to fulfill your responsibilities to others.
Others – Humility is also the key to all relationships with all other people. We also teach this to our children so that when they are the one with the superior skills or are in a position of authority or have become the older one, then they will still deal with others properly. Those with greater ability help those with lesser ability (1 Peter 4:10). Those who are wise pass their wisdom on to those who want to learn (Proverbs). The older generations pass on to the younger generations what they have learned in praising the Lord and recounting His mighty acts (Psalm 145:4). Those in positions of authority lead with humility and example instead it of Lording it over those under them (Matthew 20:25f). Employers treat their employees with justice and fairness because they too have a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1).
It takes hard work to reign in your child’s natural selfishness and replace it with humility and thoughtfulness toward others. It is normal for people to be self centered so that when they are younger, do not possess the skills or have the position of authority they will complain about those that do. In pride and jealousy they think they should be able to do what others can do even if they are not yet ready for it. Yet, when they do become older, gain the skills and are put in those positions of authority, their pride now leads them to have disdain for those that are under them. Those things must be corrected while instilling in them the joy of teaching others.
Do not let your children whine and complain. Do not let them treat others with disrespect. This begins with correction of bad behavior while very young and then expands to correction of bad attitudes as they get older. For young children, you have to gain control of the actions before you can gain control of the attitudes. Require them to be courteous and polite. Teach them to willingly share and be kind to others while playing. A quick tip on doing this.
First, make sure your young children understand that the toys in the home are available for anyone to play with that comes over. This allows you to require them to share without violating their sense of dominion or ownership. Second, there will be exceptions for each child of a few special toys that they “own” and do not have to share with others. This allows you to teach them ownership responsibility and the opportunity to know when they are sharing because they want to and not because they must.
Responsibilities to the Opposite Sex – I want to address rather quickly one last area of social responsibility. Our society has lost its sense of propriety when in it comes to dealing with those of the opposite sex. I personally believe this is due to the influence of feminism which has been one of the many means by which the devil has attacked the family and our society. For all of its clamoring about wanting equality between males and females, it has increased the animosity, disdain, and rudeness between the sexes while allowing and even promoting the exploitation of women as sexual objects. The influence of feminism has been around long enough that it has taken over some churches and its tentacles have reached into the evangelical church as well. We must stand guard against its influence in our families and teach our children to be godly in their interaction with others including those of the opposite sex.
The epistle of 1 Timothy gives us very helpful direction. It must be kept in mind that in this letter Paul is writing to Timothy regarding his responsibilities in the church at Ephesus. Timothy is still young, but he has been sent with Paul’s authority to give direction and set things in order in the church. Paul is giving him instructions on what to do and how to do it. In 1 Timothy 5:1-3 Paul writes, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters,
in all purity.”
The immediate instruction was the manner in which Timothy was to correct others, but in describing it, Paul also gives direction into the manner of his relationship to those in the church. Those who were a generation older were to be treated as either a father or mother. That invokes the honor and respect that are due to parents. It would imply that those of the older generation should treat those of younger generations as sons and daughters. They are to look out for the welfare of those who are younger and strive to impart to them their wisdom.
Paul then goes on to say to treat the younger men as brothers and the younger women as sisters. That suggests taking on the responsibilities I spoke about earlier regarding siblings. The term younger here is relative to the older men and women that are treated as fathers and mothers and not to Timothy’s specific age. These are those of his own generation and younger. Since Timothy was single, this includes those women that would be in the potential wife category. Notice that Paul adds specifically that he is to treat them as sisters in all purity. He was to be protective of them, not exploit them for his own desires. We know that Timothy was a normal young man because in 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul told him “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
You single men and women need to take Paul’s commands to Timothy to heart. Our society pushes you to place a premium on having romantic relationships. It all seems so wonderful until you find your heart broken because the relationship was exploitive, usually on both parts, instead of actually loving. You ended up feeling used instead of cherished. The Bible places the emphasis on sacrificial love given in the best interest of the other person. You need to learn to cherish the other person long before romance and marriage enter the picture. Our society pushes you to look for someone that will spark your feelings. The Scriptures direct you to look for someone with whom you will be able to walk and serve the Lord as a picture of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).
You single men need to treat the single women as sisters in all purity. Do not fall into the lustful romantic dating trap promoted by our society. Do not play with her heart. Until you propose marriage and have given her a ring and set a date, you have no claim on her, so don’t treat her like she already belongs to you. And until she is given away and you both say “I do,” she is still not yours, so hands off.
Ladies, the principle goes for you too. You treat the single men as brothers in all purity. Yes, I understand that you would like to get married so you need to make yourself available for a relationship, but be very careful how you publicize it or you will get a man who responds to the manner of your advertisement. That includes not only the manner of your dress, but your flirtations, manner of speech and in what you show interest.
Parents, you teach your children about relationships with the opposite sex by your own example, what you try to teach them, and what you allow to influence them. That would include what they are allowed to discover for themselves through their experiences and own study, their friends and their entertainment choices. These can easily outweigh your own example and what you think you taught them. Be diligent in teaching them about God and His ways and protect them from the evils of our society while training them to stand firm and live righteously in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation. If you do not, then do not be surprised if they are overwhelmed by society and are conformed into the image of this world instead of the image of Christ. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
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 “children” is used. 3) Discuss with your parents how you should treat your grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How does having children force parents to mature? What does having children teach the parents about true love? What is the first responsibility of parents in the family? What is the first responsibility of children in the family? What are some practical ways by which you can show honor to your parents? What are your responsibilities to your siblings? How are you carrying them out? What are your responsibilities to your grandparents? To relatives from the pervious generation? To relatives of your own generation? What are the benefits of family loyalty? What is the danger of high family loyalty? How does loyalty to God counteract that danger? What is your responsibility to authority? How can you teach your children to show respect to those in authority? What must you do yourself? When does submission to human authority end? What should you do if those with a position over you are disrespectful to you? Who are peers and what are the great dangers in peer relationships? How does walking with Christ remove those dangers? Why is humility the key to all relationships with all people? How do you suppress a child’s natural pride and selfishness? How do you instill humility and being thoughtful to others? What has caused the loss of propriety toward the opposite sex in the last couple of generations? How should you treat those of the older generation? How is that demonstrated in practical terms? How are you to treat those of your own generation? How is that demonstrated in practical terms? How is this applied to single adults who are interested in marriage? How can the man promote purity in a budding relationship with a possible wife? How can the woman promote purity in a budding relationship with a possible husband? What should parents teach their children about relationships with the opposite sex? How can they teach those things? What is the danger if they do not?
Sermon Notes – 8/5/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 5
Having children often forces adults to _______________
The goal of Christian parents is to raise children who will be _____________adults with godly character
______________ life is an important help in being able to raise children properly
The first responsibility for parents is for each to fulfill their ____________ as husband or wife
The first responsibility for children is to ____their parents the first time, right away & with a happy face
Children – young and adult – are to ___________ their parents
Siblings need to learn to be ____________ and not rivals as they grow up
Siblings are to be helpful to one another – a first _____________ in times of trouble
Responsibility to Extended Family
Grandparents are to be ______________ as are parents
All older relatives should be honored due to their __________ – Leviticus 19:32
The obligation to “________” is greater
than to the general population, but less than to immediate family
________determined rights of inheritance, restitution and redemption of property (Lev. 25, Numb. 5, 27)
Strong family loyalty results in _________ when needed. Weak family loyalty results in abandonment
Family loyalty is important, but loyalty to ________ comes first
Responsibility to Society
Authority – Our allegiance is to God __________ even if human authorities persecute us for it
We submit to human authority as long as it does not _____________ God’s commands
We teach our children to show _____________ to every authority in word and action
You can disagree with an authority and despise their sinfulness and still show respect for their ________
Prove your __________by your speech and conduct regardless of how authorities treat you (1 Tim. 4:12)
Peers – are those who are of the ____________ age, status or ability
The difficulty with peer relationships is that jealousy and _____________ easily develop in them
Followers of Christ have a different approach to life which we teach our children – _____________
Others – Humility is also the __________ to all relationships with all other people.
Your must reign in your child’s natural ______________and replace it with humility and thoughtfulness
Do not let your children whine, complain or treat others with disrespect, require them to be __________
Teach children to ____________ from an early age
Responsibilities to the Opposite Sex
Our society has lost its sense of ___________ when in it comes to dealing with those of the opposite sex
Stand guard against the influence of society and teach your children to be ________with the opposite sex
Those who were a generation ___________ were to be treated as either a father or mother
The older generation should treat those of _____________ generations as sons and daughters
Those of the ____________ generation should treat one another as brothers and sisters
Potential marriage partners are to be treated as brothers and sisters and with all ____________
Society advocates finding someone that sparks your __________________.
Scripture directs you to find someone with whom you can walk and serve the __________& reflect Him
Don’t fall for the lustful romantic dating trap, do not play with people’s _____________
Ladies, walk in __________ in dress, speech and areas of interest – you get what you advertise for
____________, teach by your example, by your instruction and what you allow to influence them
Proverbs 13:20, He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm
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