By Phillip Prince
Originally published in
The Christian Informer
IN EPHESIANS 6:4, THE apostle Paul said, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." As parents, we must never forget that children do not inherit religion in some biological sequence, but rather, they acquire it through teaching, and only by this way. Whether the religion they acquire is true or false depends solely on the type of teaching which they receive. By all accounts in God's word, parents have been given the great responsibility to teach their children the way of the Lord. But the question begs to be asked, "When should we begin teaching our children God's ways?" The Scriptures have this to say in Deuteronomy 6:6-8 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." (Also Read Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
In an effort to show the importance of young people beginning a relationship with the Lord early in life, the wise man Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:1, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." His words were, "Remember now thy creator." To remember means, "To bring to the mind, to be mindful, to bear in mind, to keep in our memory, be careful not to forget." Solomon is simply saying that young people, and older people, as well, should keep God in their minds. They should be very careful, to never forget the relationship that they have sustained under Him. And then the wise man points out when this should be done, "Now, in the days of thy youth", not later, not when they have "sown their wild oats," not when they have enjoyed the pleasures of sin. He did not say God was to be remembered after they had explored all other areas of life, but "You remember now, in the days of your youth." Now, as you start your life. We all should start our lives with a relationship to God.
When children are young and impressionable, they need Christian parents who are willing to instill in their children the ways of the Lord. They need Christian parents who will bring them up, "In the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
As our children grow up, so many times, we parents, allow them to do things that we know that, for Christians, it would be wrong to do. But we reason that since they have not reached that age of accountability, since they have not obeyed the Gospel, therefore, not being members of the church, the Laws of God do not apply to them. We conclude that things that would be wrong for a Christian would be all right for them.
Take, for example, modest apparel. For Christians, we know and recognize the fact that we are to dress in a modest fashion. But how many times do we let our children run around with clothes on that can hardly come close to being modest? Our reasoning is, "they're just children and so, modesty doesn't apply in their case."
But what about our responsibility to raise our children in the instruction of the Lord--"to teach or train by action"? What makes us believe that when we allow our children to do such things while they are young, and then, when they get older, and believe and obey the Gospel, we can say to them, "Okay! No more of that! You can't dress that way any more! You're a Christian now and Christians have to dress modestly!" Do we really think our children can understand that? All their lives, their "Christian parents" have allowed them to dress in an immodest way, but now, since they have obeyed the gospel, they can't dress that way any more. Where is the training? Where is the instruction? Where is the bringing "them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"?
What about those of us who have daughters? What about those of us who cut our daughter's hair or allow our daughters to get their hair cut? Now remember, we are to, "bring them up in the nurture and admonition"... the instruction, the warning, the training by action... "of God." Well, what is the instruction, what is the admonition, what is the warning of God with regard to the cutting of their hair? It is found in 1 Corinthians 11:1-15. In verse 2, notice that the apostle Paul uses the word "ordinances." The word "ordinance" means, "Law--something that is imposed." In these verses, the apostle Paul plainly teaches that it is wrong for a woman to have cut hair. He does not say that she can cut her some bangs, or that she can cut off the split ends. Paul says that she is not to cut her hair, period.
Now as we are bringing up our daughters "in the instruction, the teaching, the admonition of the Lord," what then is our responsibility? Is it to allow our daughters to cut their hair? No sir! It is to not allow them to cut their hair.
Now listen. We can reason, we can rationalize, we can surmise all we want, but it does not change our responsibility. As Christian parents we are responsible to raise our children.
Parents, don't think for a moment that we won't have to give an account of how we raised our children when we stand before God.
He has told us what to do, in training our children, and we must obey Him. When we meet the Lord in Judgment, there will be no acceptable excuse that we can make up for failing to do what we were commanded to do.
Some times young people act a little resentful of the fact that they have been made to attend church services, or to read their Bible, or to pray. Some times, they get a little bit envious of friends who do not have to worship each Lord's day, but sleep in or go out playing or whatever. Perhaps they wish they could do like their friends on Sunday night or Wednesday night or during a Gospel meeting, and just go other places than church services, or stay home and relax. But young people, I guarantee that when you get older, you will understand and appreciate the fact that your parents insisted that you attend the services of the church, instead of going off with your friends or relatives. You will be glad that you read your Bible, that you learned to pray to God. You will realize that these were the real things of life, and that your parents were teaching you, training you, bringing you up in those things that were right.
Parents, when we allow them to wait be encouraged in the ways of God, or even made to submit to God's laws, we are playing a dangerous game. Don't think that later on they will do what's right. It may happen. But chances are that they will remain where we have allowed them to be, without the Lord. Your child may grow up and make the right choices concerning spiritual things, but there have been too many young boys and young girls who have, in later years, turned their backs on the Lord and the church because they did not get the proper "training," the proper "admonition," the proper, "teaching by action," by their parents when they could have made a difference in their lives.
What a dangerous game we play when we hope that one day, after our children have done all other things that they want to do in life, will then turn to God, obey Him, and do what is right. Parents, chances are that will never happen! The apostle Paul lays squarely on the shoulders of parents the responsibility of starting out their children with a relationship to God, in bring them up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Young people, Solomon encourages you to begin your relationship with God from the very beginning, and as soon as you're old enough, you obey the Gospel, and all your life live for Him and be governed by His will.
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