Messin' with Your Children
All parents “mess” with their children. They play tricks, games, and aggravate their children to have fun. It is often done in order to get a particular response: surprise, frustration, or laughter. Sometimes, we can mess with our children to the point of provoking them, which Ephesians 6:4 forbids. How is that done? Sometimes it is done innocently and without intent. At other times, it is done foolishly and without thought. Consider below how you might be messing with your children in the wrong ways...
Teach them to be themselves. That is like letting your child play with a loaded gun. Some think that means let them take a bath if they want to or not. Do not bother your son if he hits on his sister. She will grow up one day and smack him good. This sounds more like compromise than training. Forget peer pressure. This child is interested in “being himself.” He can do it. Watch him. She may be five, but listen to her talk back to her parents. Watch him throw his baseball at the dog over and over again. Let her wear what makes her feel comfortable. If he does not feel like working, do not push him.
God never gave permission to “be yourself.” He admonishes every man, including the young man, to “fear God and keep HIs commandments: for this is the whole of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). God wants to teach and mold your child’s heart into one of righteousness, holiness, goodness, and kindness. He does not allow his child to have this “take my ball and go home” attitude. God wants every child to understand “for none of us liveth to himself, none dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). “A child left to himself causeth shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). There is nothing praiseworthy in sitting in front of a computer or television more than half the day. Children left to themselves are socially illiterate, relationally deprived, and ignorant of the needs of others. Teach your children their responsibility to God and their fellow man. The wold does not revolve on the axis of your child’s self-image.
Let them live like an Ahab to die like an Elijah. Has that ever worked? Some parents think it does. They can let them dress, go, act, or think in a way which does not make them feel “left out” in the world and believe it will have no long-term impact on their hearts. Go back and review Galatians 6:7,8: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.” This is an eternal truth. The same thing that has happened to others will happen to you and your child. You cannot expect good fruit to come from an evil tree (Matthew 7:16-18; 12:33-37). If we cannot contradict nature by believing we can sow one seed and reap something different, how do we believe we can sow a Jezebel and reap a Sarah, Esther, or Dorcas?
Train your children to see and understand the consequences of sinful action. Warn them to never repeat the immoral and ungodly actions of others (Hebrews 3:12,13). Teach them good comes from a good heart. Good hearts will be caring, loving, faithful, and full of good works. A boy of courage like Daniel comes from a boy who is taught to believe in what is right and remains true regardless of the pressure of the world. Having a girl like Vashti comes from a heart trained to believe in modesty, godliness, dignity, and respect. Parents, train a child to live like a Joshua to die like a Joshua.
Bribe your child to love the Lord. When a church, eldership, or teacher bribes someone into obedience and faithfulness, that person will always be expecting those physical rewards.When a child knows he gets an ice cream cone every time he feeds his dog, how will he be trained to be a Christian? Are you or the preacher going to give them a coupon for a free drink and fries every time he says the books of the New Testament? Stickers are not going to be given out at the judgment. A trip to the zoo does not come with each completed Bible lesson.
Read Psalm 1: “Blessed i the man...his delight is in the law of Jehovah; and on His law doeth he meditate day and night...” (v. 2). Parents, show your delight in the law of the Lord. That way, your children will enjoy the process. Few families gain an appreciation for serving God if it is soaked in a drudgery or treated as a chore. Let us appreciate the blessing of worshiping, studying, giving, praying, teaching, and serving. Give your children opportunities to see it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). With these duties, you allow the hearts of your children to expand upon the things which show love for God. They will search for more occasions to minister. They will see the value of doing good for good’s sake. Train your child to see the need to be an example like 1 Timothy 4:12, because so few children do it. Help them understand serving God is the number one command (Matthew 22:37), with the expectation of the eternal reward, which does not compare to any reward man can give.
Praise them for everything but their spirituality. Your children receive accolades for grades, citizenship, conduct, athletics, leadership, etc., but how often do parents and other adults give approval to a child’s spiritual achievement? When children see that parents are more pleased with spiritual attainments than those of a social or athletic nature, they know what their parents really value.
What is the emphasis in 2 Peter 3:18? 1 Peter 3:15? 1 Corinthians 10:13? Galatians 5:22,23? All of these praise spiritual growth, knowledge to answer for faith, escape from temptation, and the fruit of the Spirit against which there is no law. Our children may receive recognition of men, but the greatest honor to give a child - and what is most praiseworthy - is their progress in faith (1 Timothy 4:15). What award your children may receive the night of their graduation for their academics will pale in comparison to the news you hear of them teaching someone the gospel, helping someone in need without expecting anything in return, or teaching some young people in a Bible study about being a leader. Your child may be the most valuable player, but your greatest joy would be “to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4). What Abraham would not give to have seen his nephew Lot live somewhere else besides Sodom and Gomorrah, although the land there was rich and fertile? What would a parent not give to hear or see their child worshiping with other Christians in a church far away from home?
Do not mess with your children’s hearts! Do not mess with your children’s faith! Do not mess with your children’s purity! Do not mess with your children’s souls!