Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Vision (5/24/12): Five Duties of Parents to Children

Note:  Here are my abbreviated notes from last Sunday afternoon’s message in our Christian Family series at CRBC:

1.      It is the duty of parents to delight in their children and to see them as a blessing.
Having children is a fulfillment of the creation mandate (Genesis 1:28).  The Psalmist stresses that children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5; Psalm 128:3-5)
It flows from this principle that the parents will lovingly nurture and care for children.  We carefully protect and nurture that which we value and in which we delight.  It would be sad to see a man who cared more for his car or his house or some other possession than he does for his children.

2.       It is the duty of parents to discipline their children.
There are few things that the Bible detests more than an incorrigible child.  The parents are there to provide the structure and the boundaries that will make the child a responsible adult.  We see this duty persistently addressed in the Proverbs (compare:  3:11; 13:24; 22:6, 15; 23:13; 29:15).
This obligation goes beyond physical discipline.  The most effective “rod” we have is the rod of the tongue wherewith we can give gentle but firm admonishment.

Parents are to be wise guides and trusted counselors for their children.  This “discipline” also extends beyond the childhood years as the parents offer guidance to their children in life decisions, careers, marriage, practical home-making, and productive living.

3.      It is the duty of parents to evangelize and to disciple their children.
The disposition of a Christian to an unbeliever is one of evangelism and toward believers is one of discipleship.  This applies just as well to the home.  There were apparently Christian children whom are addressed by Paul in the household codes (Eph 6; Col 3).  Consider Timothy who was both evangelized and disciple by his godly grandmother and mother (see 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14).

The Christian method of “indoctrinating” children is drawn from the Old Testament pattern (see especially Deuteronomy 6:3-9).

4.      It is the duty of parents to provide materially for their children.
I would draw attention to the fact that parents are not only to provide for the material needs of the children (food, clothing, shelter, education, etc) when they are young and in the home, but I also think the Bible implies that it would be a blessing for parents to provide a material legacy for their children if the providential circumstances allow (see Paul’s incidental mention of this principle in 2 Corinthians 12:14).

The bumper sticker that reads, “I’m spending my children’s inheritance” is thus unbiblical.  Of course, this is to be guided by prudential wisdom and other Biblical principles.  Adult children are not to be made dependent upon parents.  When they marry they are to establish their own households (Gen 2:24). 

5.      It is the duty of parents not to provoke their children to wrath (or, as one modern translation phrases it, to “exasperate” their children).
The key text here is Ephesians 6:4:  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture (paideia) and admonition (nouthesia) of the Lord.”
How can a father (parent) provoke his child to wrath?
  • By not understanding the natural development and needs of his child.  A five year old should not be expected to act like an 18 year old and vice versa.  This includes holding unrealistic expectations and standards for a child.
  • By selfishly expecting that the family should center around the father’s (parent’s) needs rather than self-sacrificially putting the needs of others before his own and the demands of Christ above all.
  • By persistent and unkind teasing.
  • By neglecting the material and emotional needs of his child.
  • By neglecting the spiritual needs of his child.
  • By showing favoritism among children.
  • By spiritual hypocrisy.  Children are “truth detectors.”  They can sniff out inconsistency pretty quickly.  We provoke our children to wrath when we do not live consistently.  If we criticize others for lack of piety in some area but then live inconsistently in that same area or others, we are being hypocritical.  
Parents, what an incredible privilege and duty we have been given.  We stand in the place of God himself in our families.  Let us fulfill our sacred duties to our children and thereby obey our Lord. 

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

AJ said...

Great stuff here Dr. Riddle!

If this does not promote a humble penitent spirit in a man, he is either ignorant of his duties or he is a corpse.