Friday, March 3, 2023

Parental Consistency (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4)

"... when he is old he will not turn from it" (Prov. 22:6b).

I briefly mentioned in yesterday’s lesson the importance of the early training of children. As a sapling is much more pliable than a full-grown oak, so is the child compared to an adult. “The more early the training, the more easy the work, and the more encouraging the results,” Bridges wrote. “Our character largely takes the form of that mold into which our early years were cast. Much in after-life, both good and evil, may be traced back to the seed sown in the days of infancy.” 

This does not mean a person who had an ungodly upbringing is destined for ruin. With God nothing is impossible, and His grace is abounding. But the hope of God’s grace never diminishes our responsibility. Parents should be diligent in teaching their children the Scriptures, giving practical exposition of biblical principles, watching for besetting sins in their children, and taking every means possible to steer them away from ungodliness. Of course, only God can change the sinful heart of a child, but, again, a parent must leave to God what is God’s and remain obedient to what God has commanded.

The biblical training of children must be practical. To fill a child’s head with theology and religious notions, yet to live as a reprobate is to harden him in ways that negligence could never do. It would be better to teach the child nothing of true Christianity than to play the hypocrite. How common it is that the most hardened pagans were raised in “Christian” homes—homes that excelled in hypocrisy rather than godly consistency. A child learns more by example than by hearing. As Bridges says, “Imitation is a far more powerful principle than memory.” None of us lives to himself alone. We all spread an influence of either good or bad, and the responsibility of parental consistency cannot be understated.

The difficulty of this task cannot be understated either. But all parents are spurred on by the promise of God that sound instruction will produce fruit. Sometimes that fruit may not come until the child is old, but where God has promised blessing there is hope. It was the remembrance of his father’s house that captured the prodigal’s thoughts. Memories of a father’s love brought tears to the son’s eyes, hope to his heart, and the desire to return home.

Read 1 Kings 22:51–52; 2 Chronicles 17:1–4; 22:1–6, and Jeremiah 9:13–16. What influence did these parents have? What kind of influence do you have on your children and/or grandchildren? If you’re not a parent, what kind of influence do you have on others? Examine your life for hypocrisy. Confess it to the Lord today.