Classic Blunder

This classic blunder from Scripture is the man of God who serves God mightily and yet is a poor or even very bad father. Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon (and others) – some of them better parents than others, but all discouraging models when you look at their kids. If you are happy with a max of 50%-66% rate of your children following God, then certainly there are many models to follow, but if you desire more for all of your children then this classic blunder needs to be avoided.

First, it is primarily the father’s fault. The responsibility to bring up and nurture children is given to the father. It is given to the fathers in the OT and Paul reaffirms that responsibility in the NT. Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Problems arise when fathers are not active in their children’s lives. Good Christian families see their kids in situations they would not have imagined because of the lack of interaction by the father. Perhaps it was due to busyness in the ministry, or because of a lack of certainty on what to do. Perhaps it was because their wife knew more and they didn’t want to mess up, but regardless, the Bible places the responsibility on the father. It is the father that must direct the hearts and minds of the children and it is the father that must show love and discipline. It is the father that needs to spend time with his children if he is to bring them up.

Oh the danger of being an absentee father! The ministry isn’t worth it. Eli and Samuel both had wicked children.

1 Samuel 2:12, 22-25 “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.”

God condemns Eli for placing his sons before God. 1 Samuel 1:29 “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” 1 Samuel 3:13 “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” It was Eli’s fault. He is to blame. It is sad and as a father it is heartbreaking.

The job isn’t worth it. David and Solomon devoted their lives to the kingdom, and they were great kings. David was promised by God for the Messiah to come from his line; Solomon was known by all he kings of the world, and yet their kids were a mess. David’s children raped, and murdered. They were treasonous and rebels. Solomon’s had no wisdom but was full of pride. The wisest man to ever walk the planet, brought up a fool.

Ministry and jobs are not worth our kids. Don’t let things come before them. They are our responsibility and we will mold them into whatever it is they will become – be it good or bad.

My wife and I talk regularly about how anyone could hurt, or abuse or “offend one of these little ones” as we observe our girls. They are so precious to us. We wouldn’t want to hurt them for anything, and yet people do. But the less obvious harm that is done is ignoring them or leaving them to their own devices. Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” This is as bad an outcome for the child. The Lord pleads the cause of the afflicted, but the spoiled brat who knows no humility God deals with differently. Parents, do not bring shame upon yourself and the judgment of God upon your kids by leaving them alone – by not restraining them, and honoring them more than God. God desires righteousness first!

The Bible is replete with examples and principles to deal with a child’s foolishness and not to let it go. Don’t let it go. Don’t allow them to get away with sin because “They are just so cute” or “They aren’t that bad” or “I just love them too much to spank them.”

Don’t be inactive from their lives because you don’t know what to do. Fathers, make this your priority! Do not let work interfere. Do not let ministry – at church, on the street corner, or knocking on doors. God commands you to do bring them up. The responsibility is yours. Do not be lax in it, or your heart will be heavy and you will be brought shame.

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“But I’m the only Christian in their lives!”

This is often used as an excuse to engage in or remain in a sinful state. Sin is still sin. Being the only Christian in a person’s life is not a reason to sin. (In America, this is not meant as being the only Christian they have access to. Obviously, Americans have access to churches, Bibles, and Christians all over.) Staying in sin to stay in their life is actually the exact opposite of what will win them. The unsaved person will not understand you are staying in their life or in that situation in order to win them. They will see that the sin you are involved in doesn’t matter to you. They will see that there is not a difference between being a Christian and not.

God commands us to be separate. Be Holy. Be apart from the world. No where in the Bible does God say to do anything because you are the only Christian witness in someone’s life. We are to preach the Gospel to every creature. We are to make disciples. We are to teach. We are to live so that by our walk, countenance, and conversation, men may know that we are different. But no where does God say “You that are the only Christian in someone’s life, take special care to stay in their lives – even bending and breaking my rules if necessary.” God doesn’t say that.

God says we will win them by being holy. It will be our good works that bring glory to God. It will be our faithful witness.

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

1 Peter 2:12 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

1 Peter 3:1-2 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

God makes several things very clear in the Bible: be holy, walk in the Spirit, pray, flee temptation, serve the Lord, praise Him, study His Word and the list goes on. It is certainly not wrong to be the only Christian in someone’s life. But it should never be the reason for something. It is not a litmus test about where you should work, or live. It is not a test of whether you should be someone’s friend, or build a relationship, or keep one. It is not a test at all. God uses His Word, prayer, and Godly counselors to direct us. Use those. Pursue after God. Talk to His people. Be wise.