Perspective From The Word of God - Rev. Steward Murphy
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psa.127:3
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Ideally it should come about by purpose, for it is difficult enough without it being a surprise. Thankfully, even though parenting is an “on the job training” position, your first child will not be born a teenager, but a newborn baby who also has no experience. You will work it out together; you, your baby, your spouse, and Jesus.
There is more than one way to become a parent; adoption, marrying a partner who already has children, or the death of your sibling places their child in your home. I am going to write instead on the oldest most common method of becoming a parent; you marry, and you and your spouse have a baby. Most any other situation is like jumping into the deep water without ever having the experience of wading first. But, no matter how it comes about, the way to successful parenting is down on your knees and up to God in prayer.
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…” Gen.1:28
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luk.14:28
Before I ever married or even had a fiancé waiting, I began praying for wisdom and a loving heart so that I might be a good husband someday. I even went to a few marriage seminars, desiring to be a better spouse when the time came, instead of bungling it up, hurting someone, and then going to the seminars. I took the same approach before I became a parent; prepare by gaining wisdom ahead of time.
As you should before building a house, taking a trip overseas, or considering a surgical option, you need to prepare for parenting for it is of far greater importance
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Psa.37:5
After marrying, my wife and I had for a long time considered having children. I was afraid that I might be an abusive father because my father beat me, my grandfather beat my father, and his father beat him. A doctrine at that time and still popular in some circles today, teaches that you can have a curse in your family ancestry passed down to you. Partial scripture would be quoted out of context to support, such as, “…for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation…” Cruel excessive unjust beatings would be considered such a bane.
The Lord led me to Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” My father’s, grandfather’s, and great-grandfather’s sins were their own. I have enough of my own to be accountable for.
Galatians 3:13 also says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree…” The Holy Spirit told me that it was alright for me to have children, for I would not abuse my children; and I never have.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1Jn.1:
“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Rom.10:13
Your child or children are your and your spouses’ responsibility as a mission field. Your child is born a sinner. This will become apparent once your child learns that its demands for attention by crying even when it is not hungry or wet, will get answered. Its needs will morph into I want attention now, just because I want it. I have always found it humorous when new parents realize that their little ankle-biter truly is a sinner. Remember that Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
Your child must first personally come to know Jesus as Lord. (Jesus is only your savior as the result of first yielding to His lordship.) God has no grandchildren! Your child is not a Christian because you have provided it a Christian life style. Your child cannot become a Christian through osmosis.
The Lord can use your church to help present the Gospel, but Sunday School is not there to do your job. Ultimately what your child comes to understand about Jesus, is what you live and breathe at home. Arguing, disrespect, anger, etcetera, demonstrated when you are in your home and vehicle, but then cuts-off as you step into church, will only inoculate your child from the Lord Jesus. You end up immunizing him, or her, from the truth because you have been living a lie in front of them; hypocrisy.
So, it is not the church’, nor the grandparent’s responsibility, but yours and your spouse’s. And if your spouse does not embrace the task, then it is still your obligation. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” [KJV] Besides the obvious shelter, food, and clothing, provision also includes the spiritual needs of your children.
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1Cor.4:15 [KJV]
Your relationship with your child can have many facets. Parents usually hope to become their child’s friend. There is nothing wrong with that, but there are other tiers of relationship that must come first. I am going to draw from the titles and names of God to show those levels, since it is a similitude of our relationship with God the Father.
Some of those are father, shepherd, teacher, provider, defender, shield, stronghold, refuge, rock, and hiding place. It is easy to see the application of these titles to yourself in relationship to your child. But, let us consider lord or sovereign. In the early raising of a child, there is a saying that is both ancient and foundational, - “Because I said so.” As your child grows, you will want your child to have understanding in how you make the decisions you do; that is teaching them wisdom. But, it will be a long time before their ability to understand catches up with their earlier ability to say, “Why can’t I?”
The answer to that question is the same that our Lord Father must say to us when we are still immature, “Because I said so.” Your child must obey you whether or not they know or understand your reasoning. It is the same with us and the Lord. Our obedience to Jesus cannot be only when we understand. You would not allow your child to play in the street until they are old enough to understand why it is not safe, because they would never live long enough to reach comprehension.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” Isa.55:8
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Cor.11:1
World-wide for sixty years there has been a resurgence of interest in the Irish-Scottish-Celtic culture, and with my last name of Murphy, I have been part of that. I find it interesting to examine my cultural roots and find traits of my ancestors from 500 BC to be seen in their descendants today. I can see those traits in my own children and grandchildren. But, we are all still individuals.
Your child is not to be another ‘you’. Beware of seeing the good or bad you in your child. You may have been a sports star in high school and were disappointed that you didn’t advance. Your child may not even like sports. Do not live vicariously through your child. Do not desire for your child to become a pageant star. If you were an excessively disobedient child, don’t think your child is the same when they don’t want to eat the broccoli! Remember, Jesus is the creator, not you. You must pray for your child to become a Christian (meaning “little Christ”), not a mini-me of you no matter how cute people say it is.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psa.139:13-14
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Pro.22:6
Your will need to give your child a lot of at-a-boy(s) through life. These are words of affirmation and support, similar to a good teacher or boss giving praise. But like the Holy Spirit speaking a prophetic word of blessing to you is not to be considered a blanket approval of everything in your life, neither is a word of affirmation to your child an indication that there are not corrections needed in their life. A child will thrive on a parent’s praise, but let it be real.
You will need to pick your battles. Godly given wisdom will be needed to know what, when, and the way to bring correction and change into your child’s character. If you err, then err towards grace. Beware, for you may be more inclined to say no than yes to their requests, because the yeses often make your life more difficult; children are messy.
As a child ages, you must give them more responsibilities and more freedoms. You must give them room to make mistakes. Your child will be born completely dependent upon you, but your ultimate goal is for them to be capable to be completely independent from you, but not from the Lord Jesus.
When your child is young, you will be their shield, but as they grow older with understanding, you must allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions or they will not mature. Do not be an enabler. Do not pray to the Lord to protect them from their consequences. 1John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Let me quote probably the most misquoted verse by Christians in the Bible, “spare the rod and you spoil your child.” Now, what it actually says in Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares [refrains from using] the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” I expressed earlier my concern about becoming an abusive parent, due to my own childhood experiences. I sought the Lord for understanding of this verse.
There will be times when the milder forms of correction will not be enough to change your child’s behavior. A rod was used instead of the hand, because the hand was used to bless a person. You did not want your child to recoil from your touch, but to welcome it. The Lord says that you hate your child if you are not willing to use the rod properly and when necessary, in your child’s life. If you truly love your child, you will want your child to be welcomed in society and not a bane. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” Pro.22:15. This creates a comfort and assurity in a person, though they would not understand it as a child.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psa.23:4
Micah 6:8, “He has declared to you, man, what is good; and what Jehovah is seeking from you, except to do justice, and to love grace, and to humble yourself to walk with your God?” Hebr. Intlr.
Be willing to humble yourself before your child. If you want your child to admit when they have been wrong, then you must be willing to set an example by admitting when you have wronged your child.
Let me address a stereo-type that has often been found true in families. In the hierarchy of your attentiveness, the Lord Jesus is to be first, your husband or wife second, and your children third. The Lord said that, “…a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24; ESV. A woman is to “hold fast” to her husband also. Too many times I have had to give counsel, when the wife and the children had become “one”, and I am not speaking of sexually. There is a time and place for mothering. Children are to be nourished, trained, protected, and sent-off when they come-of-age. The spousal relationship is not to be sacrificed until that happens, nor at all. Husband-fathers can also fail in this way.
The Scriptures reveal a parent’s heart for his children. As you seek the Lord for wisdom in raising your own child, you will gain a greater understanding of the Father’s love for you. Realize that He is also raising you. His ways with you are to be your ways with your child.
There is no guarantee that there will be no heart aches. The Lord did not even arrange that for himself. You will learn as you depend upon the Lord for wisdom. Your child will survive your lack of experience. You will have joy and you will tears. You will be patient and forgiving.
“All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Isa.54:13
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4