The scriptures tell us that children are a gift from God, “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant” (Genesis 33:5). In Psalm 127:3, we are told “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” God is the one who gives us our children, they are on loan to us from God. Additionally, it’s God who makes the woman’s womb fruitful to have many children, “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalm 128:3). Not only are they a gift but they are a blessing as well, “Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children are their fathers" (Proverbs 17:6).
As we studied earlier, physical intimacy is a duty in marriage just like it’s a duty to have children. Christian couples who are able but decide not to have children are sinning, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” (Genesis 3:16a) and we are to have as many as the Lord provides, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:4-5). Couples must rely on God’s grace as to how many children they are to have.
The nature that should be exhibited in our children is described in numerous passages both in the Old and New Testament. They include the following:
First, we must understand that our children are made in the image and likeness of God:
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female
created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived a hundred and
thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth. (Genesis 5:1-3)
Secondly, Children will be foolish for such is the nature of a child. It is the responsibility of the parents to respond appropriately to a child’s foolishness. In certain instances that will require the child (boys and girls) to receive correction in the form of spanking, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). In Proverbs 22:6, parents are commanded to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” For example, we are to train our sons well enough so that when they meet the woman the Lord wants them to marry they can scripturally leave home and cleave to their wife (Genesis 2:24) and when our daughters meet the man they are to marry they will be able to follow (submit) and respect him.
Thirdly, by nature children, like everyone else, are born sinners, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). It is because of that sin that everyone dies; the day we are born is a day closer to our death. It is not until we accept the Lord as our Savior that we become a new creation, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The responsibilities of a father to his children can be gleaned from two passages that deal with the offices of leadership in any church that is guided by New Testament principles. Elders, also referred to as bishops are those who pastor and hold one of the two official offices of churches established on New Testament principles. Each of these offices carries specific requirements. We read in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?).” There are different interpretations regarding what it means to have children in submission. Let me ask a question in an attempt to shed more light on this scripture. If an elder has a son, older than 18, who is no longer living under his parent's roof and is unsaved and unruly, should that disqualify a godly man from being an elder? I would say no! However, if the son or daughter is less than 18 years old and living at home then yes, I would think that the individual is disqualified. How can an elder spiritually counsel others when he cannot counsel his own children? In the same fashion, we are given a description of duties for deacons, another office of the church in the First Epistle to Timothy, we read “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Timothy 3:12). If a deacon cannot control his own children why would we expect him to be able to manage the material needs of the local assembly?
The Bible teaches that there are things fathers should put-off as well as put-on in regards to raising children. Ephesians 6:4 states, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Fathers are not to say or do things that will create wrath/anger in their children. What would be examples of things said or done that can result in anger? Well, punishing children in anger instead of disciplining them in love could result in the children becoming angry. We are told how that can affect a child in Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Parents need to discipline their children by making them aware early on what the consequences would be for various infractions. For example, I would think being disrespectful to a parent would be different than for a child failing to complete a household chore, like taking out the garbage. If the consequences for infractions are known it removes the potential of a parent punishing in anger and it places the ownership of the discipline on the child. They know if they do something wrong what the punishment will be and there is no confusion. It is vital that both parents are in agreement with the assigned discipline so as to prevent the children from seeing any discord between parents. Lastly, children can be provoked into anger when they are not trained by their parents. All children regardless of whether they admit it or not want their parents to invest time with them and in doing such train them.
The Bible teaches that the following must be put-on in regards to raising children; parents are commanded to train and teach their children; Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy might. 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. And thou shalt
write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Parents are to teach their children how to live their lives according to biblical principals. A parent who does not teach, train, and discipline is really saying that the child is illegitimate:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,
nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without
chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected
us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few
days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the
present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Children are also told in the Bible how they are supposed to respond to their parents. Children are required to obey their parents as denoted in Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Children must learn that parents are attempting to instill wisdom and instruction. They need to listen to their parents, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). If children do not listen to their parents then they are like fools, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 12:1, states they are stupid, “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” Children who do obey are considered wise, “A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). Ultimately, children are given an incredible promise in the Bible, Exodus 20:12, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
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