RAISING UP GODLY CHILDREN
RAISING UP GODLY CHILDREN
How do we raise godly children in marriage? One of the reasons God brings two people together in marriage is for the purpose of raising godly children, children who look like Him (Malachi 2:15) says:
And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
But how is this accomplished? Obviously, the only perfect model of parenting is God the Father, and therefore, as we look at him and his Word, we can discern principles about raising godly children.
Parents Must be a Pattern of Godliness
In order to raise godly children, by necessity, parents must model godliness. Children often model the character of their parents. Listen to how Paul challenged Christians:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesian 5:1-2)
He called them to imitate God, their father, as dear children and to live a life of love. As a parent, God is loving, righteous, holy, etc., and therefore, his children will in some ways reflect his character.
Similarly, parents must be people of character if they are going to raise godly children. Children raised in a loving home, by parents with character, typically mimic the virtues demonstrated by their parents. In contrast, parents who are not around, who lack self-control in their speech or with their anger, etc., produce the same character in their children. They won’t be able to cultivate righteousness in them. In fact, the hypocrisy will only lead them to rebel.
Consider how Paul challenged Timothy, the pastor of the church of Ephesus: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Paul told Timothy to be careful about his doctrine (what he taught) and his life (how he lived), because if he did, he would save those who listened to him. Essentially, it could be said this way, “Timothy, if what you say doesn’t match your actions, you will destroy those who follow you.” And it is the same for parents. Many parents destroy their children because they have a speech that doesn’t match their actions. They tell their daughter, “Stop cursing” as expletives fly out of their mouth. They tell their son, “Control your anger!” as they scream at the top of their lungs. The dad tells the kids, “Stop fighting at school,” though he fights with mom at home all the time. In the same way, when parents teach their children to evangelize, serve the church, or care for the poor, but never practice these, then the children likewise will not practice them as well.
Parents who don’t model godliness will not be able to cultivate it in their children. And sadly for Christian parents, the consequences can be disastrous; many children fall away from God all together because of the hypocrisy seen in their homes. In order to raise godly children, parents must model godly character.
Parents Must Train Their Children in God’s Word
In order for parents to raise godly children, they must not only demonstrate godly character but also teach them Scripture. This is how God the Father develops godliness in us (Ephesian 5:26) describes how Christ washes the church with the water of the Word to make her blameless and holy. Parents must do the same with their children.
Consider what the father, presumably Solomon, said to his son in (Proverbs 2: 1-13).
The father told his son to turn his ear to wisdom, to call out for it, to cry aloud for it, to look for it as silver and hidden treasure, and if he did, he would understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. This wisdom would enter his heart and be pleasant to him. It would protect him, guard him, and save him.
When the father calls for the son to seek after wisdom, this primarily refers to knowing and obeying God, as revealed through his Word. Fearing the Lord is called the beginning of wisdom (Proverb 9:10). Throughout the Proverbs, this father sits with his son and teaches him the importance of wisdom. He trumpets the benefits of it and seeks to train his son in its ways, so he can be protected and guarded. This is how it should be with every parent. The way they train their children in wisdom (godliness) is by emphasizing the importance of Scripture, teaching their children to memorize it, to apply it, to know and to love God. This must be the daily endeavor of every parent as they aim to raise godly children. The Word of God must be the lifeline of the home.
This is exactly what Moses commanded Israel’s parents in (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) said:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Parents were called to impress the Word of God upon the hearts of their children by talking about it at home, when they went walking, when they went to bed, and when they got up. They were to tie Scriptures on their hands and their heads and to write it on the doorframes of their homes and the gates.
Parents Must Discipline Their Children
In order to raise godly children, parents must discipline them. The word “discipline” tends to have a negative connotation but it shouldn’t. It is a rich word. It means: “training to act in accordance with rules”, “activity, exercise, or regimen that develops or improves a skill”, or “punishment inflicted by way of correction or training.”
Since God is the ultimate Father, we must consider how God disciplines us in order to discern how we should discipline our children (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Hebrews says that every father disciplines his children (v. 7). It is mentioned as an expectation. God disciplines his children and so should every parent. God disciplines through trials and various hardships he allows Christians to go through. Their purpose is holiness (v. 10). In the same way, good parenting disciplines the children for the purpose of “training” and making them righteous (v. 11).
Parents must initiate various non-punitive disciplines that will encourage holiness in their children. For example, my parents made me participate in sports when I was young, not only to gain broad experiences, but to develop character traits such as patience, team work, humility, etc. At other times, my mom would tell me I could not go outside until I had read a book for an hour. This discipline was implemented in order to help me learn to enjoy reading. In addition, I was given chores to learn how to work hard, to manage time, and to learn the value of a dollar, as I was given allowance. On other occasions, I would have to finish an endeavor I started, but did not like, simply to teach me endurance—to not quit when things were difficult.
In the same way, God brings (or allows) non-punitive disciplines in our lives not because we’re in sin but for training, in order to make us holier. Sometimes, he puts us in waiting seasons to develop patience. Sometimes, he brings us through hardship, like Job, to develop perseverance and to know God in a more intimate way. The hardship isn’t necessarily a consequence of sin; it is allowed in order to foster faith in God and godly character traits. Similarly, as parents, we must stretch our children through various disciplines to help them grow.
Parents should wisely introduce various forms of discipline to their children for the sake of character development. These may include disciplines like learning to play an instrument, playing a sport, completing chores, working a job, reading, etc. It should include disciplines such as limited time playing video games, being on the Internet, watching TV and movies, staying up late, and even eating healthy.
Parents must develop a system of discipline that increases in severity, which includes corrective communication and punishment, to foster holiness in the life of their child. Scripture teaches that “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” Proverb 22:15). Foolishness in the Bible refers to disobedience to God and his Word. (Psalm 14:1) says, “The fool says in his heart there is no God.” Parents must understand that foolishness is bound up in the hearts of their children. Children are intrinsically wired to disobey God and his established authorities—they want their own way. If not disciplined, children will live a life of rebellion against God and all authority.
(Proverbs 23:14) says this about disciplining a child: “Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” What type of death is the Proverb talking about? No doubt, this refers to a potential early physical death, but it also refers to spiritual death—separation from God (Romans 6:23). Disciplining our children prepares them to live a long life (Executive 20:12) and to know and follow God, as they eventually accept the gospel and submit to Christ’s Lordship. An undisciplined child will be prone to continue in foolishness and never follow Christ. Discipline is not only important for a child’s earthly life but for his eternal destiny.
How should punitive discipline (including spankings) be administered to children? Here are a few guidelines.
i. Discipline should never be given in anger.
ii. Discipline should be equal to the sin.
iii. Discipline should be done as said.
iv. Discipline should create intimacy instead of distance.
Parents Must Avoid Provoking Their Children to Anger
As we consider discipline, it is very important for parents to not discipline children in a way that provokes rebellion. Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” In this text, Paul spoke to fathers and commanded them to not embitter their children lest they become discouraged or “lose heart,” as translated in the NASB. This is not simply referring to a child getting upset, for this is inevitable. It has to do with a deep–rooted, settled anger that stays in this child and affects his character for the rest of his life. This anger will result in rebellion both towards the parents and towards God, and may keep them from ever becoming the righteous seed that God desires.
The word “father” can also be translated “parents” (Hebrews 11:23). This sin is committed not only by fathers; it is also committed by mothers. It is possible for parents to embitter their children to the point where they rebel.
How do parents embitter their children? This can happen in many ways.
i. Parents embitter their children by not disciplining them.
ii. Parents embitter their children by abusing them or giving improper discipline.
iii. Parents embitter their children by neglecting them.
iv. Parents embitter their children by never encouraging them and showing them affection.
v. Parents embitter their children by showing favoritism toward other siblings.
Parents Must Know Their Children
Parents must know their children if they are going to raise them in godliness and lead them into God’s plan for their lives. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” “In the way he should go” can also be translated as “his way” or “his bend.” The Amplified Bible translates it this way: “Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The word “way” comes from a Hebrew verb used of a bow launching an arrow. When a person shoots an arrow, the tension must align with the natural bend in the bow or it will break. This is also true in raising children.
Some parents damage their children by trying to train them in a way God didn’t wire them. They may do this by pushing their kids into the medical field, athletics, etc., even though the children show no aptitude or passion in those areas. God gives us children who are already uploaded with a unique and specific program like a computer. We can’t use software uniquely made for an Apple with a PC. It’s the same with children. Some will be wired towards the arts, technology, or serving ministries. It is the job of parents to get to know the way God wired them, so they can encourage them in those areas.
This can be difficult for parents, especially if their child’s wiring doesn’t fit their expectation or what might be considered successful in society. However, we are called to train a child according to his own way—according to his own bend (Proverbs 22:6)—not ours’ or others’. Their “way” may not appeal to us, but ultimately, we are raising children for God and to fulfill his calling on their lives. Like Jeremiah, God knew them before they were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Like David, they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and called for a specific work (Ephesians 2: 10). It is the parent’s job to help discern this work
Pray this prayer, Father give me the grace and power necessary for me to raise up my children in a way that will bring glory to your name