Repeatedly, God’s people in the Old Testament are admonished to teach their children and their grandchildren. Each newborn child brings new hopes and opportunities to the life of their parents, and we wonder, “Who will this child be?” In Luke 1, the priest Zechariah is expecting a son, and this child is born in verse 57. The tradition would have been to name the child after the father, but both Elizabeth and Zechariah insist his name will be John. After seeing the signs surrounding the birth of John, the people wonder, in verse 66, “Who will this child be?”
The Unguided Child
We wish for our children to be better than ourselves, and we should realize that our choices impact that outcome. What kind of children do we desire? How can we impact the direction they go as they mature? What spiritual goals do we have for our children. Proverbs 22:6 discusses the importance of working with our children early, laying a foundation for their life later. Solomon encourages to take a hands-on approach with our children, and Proverbs 29:15 warns that a child left untended will bring shame to his or her family. Also, chapter 22:15 encourages us to correct our children when they behave foolishly.
I Corinthians 15:33 warns about the people we spend time with, and the same warning applies to our children. We should be encouraging our children to surround themselves with good influences and spiritual friends. I Peter 3:3-4 calls on us to focus on inward beauty over outward beauty. What if we teach our children that fashion is more important than modesty or goodness? What if we teach them to prioritize the secular over the spiritual? Matthew 6:33 records Jesus teaching to seek God’s kingdom first, placing our worldly concerns in God’s hands.
At God’s bidding, the high priest Eli has to reprimand his sons for their sins in serving God and their example to the people. King Rehoboam governs foolishly because he ignores the advice of his father’s advisers and listens to his foolish friends. Salomé inflames Herod to sin because of her immodesty. Paul criticizes Demos for loving the things of this world. These individuals put the world before God, are uncontrolled, are immodest.
The Nurture and Admonition of the Lord
Proverbs 20:7 blesses the children of one who walks in integrity. Ephesians 6:4 calls on fathers to nurture and train their children in the ways of the Lord – not always what is most enjoyable, but what is needed. Deuteronomy 6:4 records Moses instructing the people to make God’s word a daily part of family life, and Luke 4:16, the gospel writer reveals the child Jesus had been customarily taken to worship by His family.
Proverbs 13:20 says wise companions bring wisdom, and III John verse 4 expresses John’s joy in seeing his spiritual children walking in truth. We take pride in much that our children do, but character is what we should be able to take the most pride in. Our families should also be prayerful, James 5:16 encouraging us to pray earnestly. Think of Samuel, Timothy, John and Jesus, David and Jonathan, Barnabas, and Paul – the examples they serve in the scriptures. These once had parents who brought them up and influenced who they would be.
Our choices have an impact in determining who our child will be. Our children have more than an earthly father and mother. They have a Father in Heaven who also looks down upon them. What relationship do you and I have with God? What do our children see in our walk as children of God? If we want out children to reflect godly qualities as they grow, we should first be reflecting these qualities in our own lives.
lesson by Tim Smelser