Raising children is a sin! Sounds wrong, I know. I mean, it is very wrong.. very sinful to raise your children. We should instead be training them…. teaching them…. nurturing them… growing with them… protecting them… living AND dying for them… not, just raising them.
- You raise corn.
- You raise cattle.
- You raise a garden.
… but, you should ‘never’ raise children… never.
The Bible directly tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Training a child is work… teaching, mentoring, nurturing and in many ways ‘giving up your own life’ for the sake and benefit of the children.
Corn does not grow up and learn to pass a legacy off to their offspring. Flowers, plants, trees are all the same way. Raising corn… raising plants… raising a grove of fruit trees does not include the corn, the plants, or the fruit trees holding special training sessions so they can pass along their nature-built mechanism for a productive life.
Animals get closer to teaching their young, but their tactics are certainly in the realm of ‘life preserving’ and ‘threat of danger’. They are not teaching their offspring the things of God… giving them guidance for morals… for community living… for anything else but physical life traits.
A garden is only perfect, lovely, and fulfilling for a season… it does not teach the seeds or the other flowers and prepare them for the coming season… how to be really good and healthy flowers. Sure… a garden is real work… it takes time… takes care… takes consideration… constant and seemingly relentless toiling… physically sure, but especially emotionally. Each season though, the bulk of the garden ends (depending on the plants and environment).
Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plantJeremiah 29:5
gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
That verse in Jeremiah was God admonishing the captives as they were scattered into their various places… to keep life going… to build… to dwell… to enjoy the fruits of their labors where they are/were.
Children are quite a different component of life. Jesus Himself stated, “Suffer not the little children to come unto me”, which is NOT to say “don’t keep your children from going to church”, as much as it is saying “provide an example for your children as to how to live close to the Lord”. That word ‘suffer’ that is used in the King James version is used as a verb in the original text to indicate ‘to send’ or an intense form of ‘to go’.
Jesus references children so many times through many of His sermons, His parables, even just His quiet discussions with the Disciples… typically using their innocence as a template for how we should accept and acknowledge Him (wide open trust). Even in Matthew 18:3, He clarified our salvation by sharing, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.“
As we consider the children around our lives, we really must consider just how important they are to Him. One of the first things you can do for yourself… to help get your head straight about them… is this;
Do NOT refer to them as kids!
Young goats are referred to as Kids… don’t use that same derogatory title for our children. Adopting this one thing… this one ‘way’ of making reference to them will help begin a richer respect for them.
Children almost always have their little recorders running. They are forever learning… forever growing… forever asking questions… forever thinking through the many curious things that enter their world. They learn vastly by example, when they are so young… sure, some things are quite natural, and must be learned on their own (walking, chewing, hand-eye coordination), but other people-skills… manners… sociological and moral matters take training.
Way back during the longer part of the Jewish captivity (when they were scattered throughout the region and oppressed), the Lord directed Joel (one of the minor prophets) to instruct all the people that they were to grasp their predicament and pass it along to their children… their children’s children… and the generations to come.
Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.Joel 1:2-3
This was instructed of them so that the generations to come would know that calamity had befallen the people… that there WAS a worse time in their lives (just when we whine and think ‘it cannot be any worse’).
Train up our children with what?
One of the key ways we can train our children is to literally grow-up, spiritually. 1 Corinthians 13:11 tells us, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.“, which is clearly letting us know our time of being childish is done… our time of whimpering… pouting… even just simple temper-tantrum panicking with the Lord is over and we need to get our lives in order! That ‘put away childish things‘ means you are no longer a consumer at church…. no longer an observer in life around you… no longer ‘afraid of the boogey-man’ with Satan’s efforts to scare you.
Be encouraged… the Lord is NOT sending you out into the world without His blessing over you… without His calling on your life… without His touch on your very mouth. The Lord is preparing your life for these very moments.. teaching others… training those around you… being an admonisher, a mentor, and certainly an example. Jeremiah was a major Prophet (contemporary along Joel, mentioned above) and the Lord wanted him to get out and let the people know what was happening and why. Jeremiah balked;
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.Jeremiah 1:4-9
What you teach your children is not all that complicated. Sure, our society is forcing many sensitivities on us these days (abortion, acceptance/tolerance, rules/laws, etc) and the bible does make it clear that we are to obey the law of the land. When it comes to the ‘ways of God’, things get even fuzzier, but that was the plan “Evil” used from the get-go… right out of the gate, reasoning… deducing… debating… even downright questioning God’s intentions have been part of life.
In the way he should go. Who is to say just what IS the ‘way’ one should go, let alone how do we ever hope to “train up our children’ in that way? My way… your way… the highway, as many deflectors would recommend… the ‘way’ is God’s way… God’s presence… God’s leadership in our lives.
It is at this point where you MUST be on-your-knees… literally if that helps, but certainly spiritually. Surrendering the “my way, or the highway“, or the “do as I say, and not as I do” approach to nurturing children. You must, must, MUST get your heart in a ‘willing to listen’ state, and then in a place where you are willing to put His leading into action.
Specifically with your children, here are some tips, thoughts, ideas to get you started… and keep you going.
Diligence. Training up a child requires a commitment.. consistency… follow-through.. and most certainly a “and here is how it is done” example from you that they can use to get their own balance. See, 2 Timothy 3:12-17 tells us;
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Two things to review in that passage; 1) it will be tough (otherwise, everyone would be doing it), and 2) the “continue in the things which thou hast learned” part is a great reference back to the Proverbs 22:6 passage that ends with “…and when he is old, he will not depart from it.“, which is a reminder of how the who circle-of-life is really meant to work.
Discipline. Correction, guidance, even out-right forced ‘change of direction’ is essential in a young life. Think of it like a new tree… sprouting… growing… branching out. The tree is planted in great soil… getting great water and nutrients… plenty of sun… protected from harsh environment calamities (sound familiar to rearing a child, right). Unless you nurture that tree… unless you prune certain branches… unless you stand back and assess the growth, then carefully make adjustments with care, concern and delicate appreciation, that tree will suffer from being top-heavy, lopsided, even too densely clumped with limbs and leaves… an unsightly mess… and unkempt organism.
There is a verse in Proverbs 22:15, which states; “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” That ‘rod of correction’ is NOT a belt… is NOT a ‘spanking’… is NOT something from which we should shy away… or that we should be shamed by the world that our means of correction are harmful. That ‘rod’ is just like the larger ‘stake’ that is put in alongside a newly planted tree… it guides the trunk of the tree… supports the weightier things in the world that would otherwise break it… otherwise, blow it over… otherwise cause it to lean and grow improperly.
Dedication. Unlike those well-intended New Years Resolutions, we are talking about dedication to see this all through. Sure… it is quite exhausting… it can seem unappreciated… unrewarding… and certainly an unpopular thing to be doing. Sticktoitivity is essential. Endurance… steadfastness… resilience… consistency… and literally commitment.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.Proverbs 16:3
See… as the passage in Proverbs reminds us, we are NOT in this alone. The Lord has directed us to commit our works unto Him, and He will establish our thoughts. He will help shape our minds… help direct our words… help shape our actions that will delicately nurture our children. Psalms 37:5 even confirms that Proverb passage when it says, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.“
Now… you may well be thinking, “until I have it right, I am not going to force my children to do anything”, or “until I better understand the things of the bible…”, or “once I have been a deep and committed Christian longer, I’ll…”, and a whole slew of other reasons to hold your tongue… to be apprehensive… to even hesitate starting to teach your children God’s ways.
See… Jesus was once approached by the Pharisees and Scribes (keepers and writers of God’s laws/word) to confront Him about ‘eating bread with unwashed hands’ (a law the Jews honored). It was a pretty petty thing they were attempting to criticize and demean Him for not doing… something to use against Him and discredit His very presence (evil has a keen way of pointing out your flaws)… and Jesus essentially “lit into them’, as it were. The scripture reference is Mark 7:5-16, but it is way too lengthy to include here. He reminded them that Esaias had prophesied of them as hypocrites. Please get over there and read it, but here are a few snippets from that passage;
- This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
- …laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
- Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Jesus uses the entire exchange to encourage the believers and followers that it is not the things we ‘take in’ to our lives that defile and condemn us… it is the things that come out of us! How we react to events… how we handle pressure… how we tolerate sin… even how we excuse and dismiss our flaws or our sins. Our children are watching… our children are forming their own perspectives based on our very output… our very actions… our very personalities and life in the Lord. Training up a child ‘in the way they must go‘ begins with you being on that ‘the way to go’ path ahead of them… forging an example… standing tall in God’s calling on your life… as the end of that passage in Mark states; “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.“