In one of the previous posts, we briefly looked at the importance of children honoring their parents. What about parents honoring their children? The Bible says, children are to be obedient to their parents in the Lord that is to accept their guidance and discipline and parents shouldn’t irritate and provoke their chidren’s anger by exasperating them to resentment or wrath, but to treat them tenderly in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. See (Ephesians 6:1-4)
What is the context in which Paul is saying children are to obey parents in the Lord—to accept their guidance and discipline and not to irritate and provoke their children to anger? Paul’s admonition comes from the Holy Spirit who had already given these instructions to Moses.
To live in peace for generations in the Promised Land, the Israelites would need to teach their children to love the Lord with all their hearts, respect authority and build strong families. The Lord emphasized the importance of parents teaching His Word diligently to their children because He never wanted despair and heartache to be passed from parents to children after the wildnerness experience. (See Deuteronomy 4:40; 6:6-7; 8:5)
Parents and children and have a responsibility to each other. To honor our parents means, we are to respect, esteem and value them as precious and to honor our children means we are to train, discipline, value, treat and guide them in such a way that they will flourish in life.
Parents dishonor their children not only by their harsh and negative words, but also neglecting to discipline, guide teach and encourage them.
Ideally, of course, parents and children will relate to each other with thoughtfulness and love. This will happen if both parents and children put the other’s interests above their own-that is if they submit to one another.
God planned for parents to pour into children. There is something within us that wants to be joined spirit to spirit so that we can grow. So the purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to cause irritation and provoke them to anger or discouragement. We need to exercise restraint and discipline by combining love with discipline.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that, although Jesus was a Son; He learned active, special obedience through what He suffered. (See Hebrews 5:8) This indicates that obedience needs to be taught. Teaching obedience is what we call discipline. If Jesus needed to submit to discipline, how much more do we as imperfect parents and our imperfect children!
Most of us know one of the toughest jobs on the planet but also the most rewarding is parenting. Parenting and keeping a family together is one of the most demanding jobs on this planet. It is not easy-it takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ honouring manner.
That’s why it’s important to find other supporting adults that can enrich your child’s life. There is no parent, or even two parents that can meet the constant needs of a child all the time. The need to be blessed with a parent’s regular attention, approval, and goodwill is real and extremely difficult to fill consistently by most parents.
One of reasons being suggested why couples with children are church going or they join home churches is: because they find other couples like themselves who are similarly navigating family life, which gives them something in common. Children need a lot of encouragement, positive affirmation and building their self esteem.
If your children have grandparents, that would be an advantage as a relationship with grandparents is extremely important in the self-esteem and character development of a child. Studies suggest that children who have been raised near their grandparents and spend time with them have a heightened sense of security and well being, most especially when these grandparents pray for and with them.
As a parent or grandparent, you might not realize the strength and effort you are putting in those children by teaching, disciplining, praying or encouraging them, but God sees it.
In fact we must guard against the mistake of looking for answers to our prayers or efforts only on earth and in the present age or dispensation. Only in eternity shall we know the full outworking of our prayers or efforts.
God has entrusted your children to you for His purposes. You should not be discouraged by the time and effort you are putting in to teach, pray, encourage or disciplining your children. God will use your children to make a difference in this world. They will be men and women who will be serve God in their generation.
What about a child whose parents are not believers? God in His sovereignty can give special faith and love to people who have no blood relationship with a child. In fact I have seen that again and again and it’s what I’m praying for—a supernatural love and resources for other children who have no parents.
Abraham-The Father of Many Nations
We are reminded that God singled Abraham out so that he would direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Abraham got the privilege of being chosen out of the hundreds of thousands of men on the earth in that day to head a new race that would bring salvation to all humanity. The Lord said:
For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him. (See Genesis 18:17-19 AMP)
Abraham was God’s choice because he could be trusted to command and teach his children in doing what is right and just. In other words, he was a father who accepted and fulfilled his responsibility to rule, teach, and discipline his children, and all of us have benefited from his obedience as he was made a father of all who truly believe. (See Romans 4:11-17)
An Example of Two Fathers
The High priest Eli and the prophet Samuel shared an inability to discipline their children. Eli was a High priest, judge of Israel, and was responsible for overseeing all the worship in Israel. He came from the ancestry of Aaron who were the Levitical priests that kept charge of the Tabernacle. But in pursuing his call, he neglected the responsibilities in his own home.
He was aware of what his sons were doing to the people. He knew, for instance that, his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Eli tried to warn his sons to stop but they wouldn’t listen to their father.
He had a difficult time in trying to handle his rebellious sons. So one day a man of God came to Eli and told him he was guilty of honoring his sons above God by letting them continue in their sinful lifestyle. (See 1 Samuel 2:27-34)
As a result, a curse was placed on the house of Eli that none of his descendants would see old age because of his sins. (See 1 Samuel 3:11-14) The fulfillment of this prediction is found in 1 Kings 2:26-27. Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.
The Prophet Samuel
You would think Samuel had learned some lessons from Eli’s experience but maybe he didn’t. As he grew old just like Eli, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel.
Samuel’s sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Next came the consequences. The Israelites realized that his sons were not like him and this is when they demanded a king to judge and govern them like all other nations.
Samuel became displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. In making this demand, God told Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them”(1 Samuel 8:7).
Samuel went to the Israelites and explained all the consequences of being led by a king, but the Israelites refused to listen. They instead demanded a king to judge them like all other nations around them; yet Israel was called to be a holy nation separate from and unique among all the other nations (see Leviticus 20:26).
The choice of security by repenting and turning to God as their Savior, Lord, and Provider was rejected. Instead, they turned to the false security offered to them by a civil government that would subject them to slavery in the name of security.
Instead of turning to God in repentance, people with slave mentalities turned to political rulers for earthly security, even after God warned them of the consequences of their rejection of Him.
The Israelites knew that God was their King but they wanted a king that was visible too. When Samuel came before the Israelites to explain the consequences of establishing a king in Israel, he thought he might persuade them by telling them that the king would want a palace and a standing army, demand a tenth of all their harvest and flocks, so that taxation, corruption, and self-indulgence would follow his coronation (see 1 Samuel 8:10–21).
In spite of all these warnings, the Hebrews refused and insisted that they still wanted a king. God again warned the Israelites would accompany their enthronement of an earthly, human king. (See 1 Samuel 8:11–12) but they would not listen.
We don’t know if Samuel failed to honor his children by not disciplining them or why his sons turned out to be corrupt. What is clear is, he was unable to lead his sons into a close relationship with God and his lack of discipline had a ripple effect that affected the rest of Israel as they wanted to be like the nations around them something the Lord didn’t want.
One other lesson we learn from this is, we shouldn’t set our hearts on having a large family or be content if your children are godless. In the past, especially in Old Testament times, large families and old age were considered as marks of prosperity and thus God’s favor. But sometimes character comes first before number, and thus it is better even to die childless than to have wicked children.
However many they are, do not think yourself successful or happy, unless the fear of the Lord is in them. Do not count on their living to be old or rely on their numbers; for one son or daughter can be better than a thousand; better indeed to be childless than to have godless children.
After ruling Israel for forty years, Eli’s heart was grieved and died in his old age and his sight almost completely lost. He failed to discipline his sons yet he knew of their immorality and greed. After the reign of Saul, King David sat on the throne and another family tragedy happened, as we shall see in our next post.