Raising Righteous Children
Today’s youth are facing a growing pandemic. Current statistics show that today’s young people encounter challenges that were unheard of decades ago. They are not learning the same core values that were impressed upon their fathers and grandfathers before them. The recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, involving an African-American teenager and a city police officer is one of many recent examples of a lack of parental guidance. Consider the following statistics:
- More and more children and teens are sexually active. By the time they graduate from high school, 7 out 10 girls and 8 out of 10 boys will have been sexually active.
- The physical and spiritual con-sequences of teen sexual activity are severe. More than one million teenage girls in the United States become pregnant every year. Over 2.5 million new adolescent cases of sexually transmitted diseases occur every year.
- Rates of substance abuse among children and teens are skyrocketing. Not surprisingly, 38 percent of all eighth graders have experimented with illicit drugs. Over 80 percent of today’s graduating seniors will have used alcohol, 42 percent will have used marijuana, and 52 percent will have used illicit drugs.
- Teen violence is on the rise. Between 1988 and 1992, the arrests of juvenile homicide offenders climbed 93 percent. An estimated 270,000 guns are carried to school each day.
- The pain of growing up in today’s world has left many youths hopeless. Suicide rates among American high school students have quadrupled in the last four decades. Sadly, 10 percent of adolescent boys and 18 percent of adolescent girls have made some attempt to take their own lives (parentingministry.org).
The preceding statistics speak volumes when it comes to the decline of today’s youth. The increase in illicit behavior should be concerning to all parents. While it may not be possible to help every child, we can take steps to ensure that our children and those children within our influence understand the difference between right and wrong. They are the future of this nation.Knowing that this world will likely only become worse with time, our children must be strong in the faith and remain faithful through many more challenges than faced by earlier generations. So as parents, how do we ensure that they are ready for such a time as this one? We must instill within them a love for Scripture and our Father’s moral values and precepts.
Be an Example
Deuteronomy 6 provides a method for achieving morally and spiritually upright children. It reads, “And thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up,” verses 5-7. In Hebrew, this passage is called the shema, meaning, “to hear.” Our own good examples are the best ways to teach our children. As believers and parents, we are to love Yahweh with our heart, soul, and might. That means with our entire being. Yahweh should always come first in our lives. This includes fully obeying Him and following in the examples of His Son, Yahshua the Messiah. John in his first epistle says that it’s impossible to know Yahweh if we ignore or refuse to obey the commandments. So as parents, we must first set the example. Then we’re to teach Yahweh’s Word “diligently” to our children. This word comes from the Hebrew shanan. The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines this word as, “to sharpen or to teach incisively.”
This means to be active and not passive when it comes to teaching our children Yahweh’s Word. We’re to spend time daily with them in the truth of our Heavenly Father. If we’re not doing this now, we’re falling short as parents. As Scripture commands, we’re to be teaching them all day long in various ways and circumstances. If we follow these instructions, Yahweh promises that our children will continue in the faith. We find this promise in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If we raise our children in Yahweh’s Word, Scripture confirms they will not forsake His truth. This is a promise upon which we can rely.
The question is, how is it accomplished? The answer is in the shema. We’re to spend time with them daily, teaching them diligently, i.e., incisively, from Yahweh’s Word. For those parents who are negligent. in this, understand that if we take a passive approach, the likelihood of that child’s accepting and following the faith is greatly diminished. This information is not intuitive, but learned.
The sad reality is that many adults today, including countless parents, have little understanding of virtue and integrity. For this reason their children also lack this knowledge. People are asking today, why are children killing children and behaving in such violent ways? The answer lies with their parents and the fact that today’s generation is ignorant of simple morality. With so many now supporting gay marriage and abortion, how is it possible for today’s youth to accept Yahweh’s truth? This is why Deuteronomy commands that we as parents must first love and follow Yahweh with all our heart, soul, and might. If we’re going to help the next generation, we must ensure our generation is first living up to those standards.
Abraham More Than a Prophet
One man who understood this, and more importantly lived it, was Abraham. Not only was this patriarch faithful to Yahweh, but as we see in Genesis 18:19, he was also a good father. It reads, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Yahweh, to do justice and judgment; that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Scripture recognizes Abraham for many achievements. He left his family and home; he believed Yahweh when others would not, and he was a prophet. One of his greatest accomplishments, however, was his parenting. The Bible says that he taught his children to walk in the way of Yahweh and to follow in His justice and judgment.
Walking in the way of Yahweh is the same as obeying Him. If we as parents don’t impress upon our children the sanctity and holiness of His Word, then there’s little hope for their spiritual future. If they don’t learn how and why it’s important to honor the Sabbath, then they will likely never understand the sanctity or holiness of this day. The same applies to marriage and all other moral principles in the Word.
In the fourth chapter of Proverbs, Solomon explains why it’s important that our children follow Yahweh’s Word. “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” Solomon is speaking to the children. He says that children are to listen to the instruction of their father. He gives four key benefits they will reap from it: understanding or knowledge of Yahweh’s Word; good doctrine or teaching; wisdom or discretion; and blessings.
When we obey our father we’ll be blessed and free from many of life’s other problems. This assumes that the father is living a life of righteousness. If the father is rebellious, then he will not be equipped to pass on these values to his children. There is one inescapable truth that impacts all men and that is that sin has consequences. For example, when we commit fornication, not only do we dishonor our own bodies, but we run the risk of pregnancy, STDs, and other life-changing factors. It’s amazing how one sin can change a person’s life forever. Contrary to what many want to believe, sin has real consequences. The simple truth is this, if we follow Yahweh and teach our children the same, we and they will be blessed. However, if we refrain from this parental responsibility, they will likely never have a love and concern for the Bible when they are grown. It’s amazing what we as parents can do when it comes to influencing our children. We have the ability to impress upon them the standards of Yahweh’s Word or the standards of this world.
Be Available for Questions
Be honest and forthright in answering your children’s questions. In Exodus 12:26-27 is an example of this principle: “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of Yahweh’s Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.” This principle applies far beyond the Passover. If our kids ask us about Yahweh’s Word, we’re to use that as an opportunity to ingrain a love and interest in Scripture. If a child understands the reason why Yahweh says what He does, they are more likely to follow it. As parents, we’re not only to take time out and read to our children but also be available for questions. The mind of a child is like a sponge, soaking up everything it encounters. Having two girls of my own, I’m often surprised at their ability to process and understand information. They often grasp much more than we realize. It’s for this reason that we must be actively teaching them Yahweh’s Word.
Admonition of a Father
In Ephesians 6:4 Paul speaks specifically to fathers when he says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Master.” The NIV reads, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of [the Master].” This is a reference to the father as the disciplinarian. Regardless of what some people want to believe, there are differences between mothers and fathers. One difference is how they respond and relate to their children. While mothers are normally more nurturing by nature, fathers are more inclined to be the disciplinarian. This is why Paul addresses this passage to the fathers. Fathers must not discipline excessively or abusively. This type of correction is not only counter-productive, and often creates long-lasting animosity between the child and parent.
Adam Clarke, in his well-known commentary, provides this insightful observation, “Avoid all severity; this will hurt your own souls, and do them no good; on the contrary, if punished with severity or cruelty, they will be only hardened and made desperate in their sins. Cruel parents generally have bad children. He who corrects his children according to [Yahweh] and reason will feel every blow on his own heart more sensibly than his child feels it on his body. Parents are called to correct, not to punish, their children. Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.” Parents should never forget the reason for correcting their children. The motivation for correction should be rooted in love, not anger or hatred. The goal is to see that the child repents and changes his or her ways. Paul goes on to say that parents are to bring their children up in the training and instruction of Yahweh’s Word. The King James Version calls it, “nurture and admonition.” So along with correction, fathers should be active in teaching them Yahweh’s Word. Remember that Abraham was praised for instructing his children.
Nurturing of a Mother
From 2Timothy 1:5 we learn that mothers, too, have a responsibility of imparting Yahweh’s Word to their children. “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul praises Timothy’s mother and grandmother for Timothy’s devotion. Some people view the role of full-time mothers as degrading and unneeded. Those who hold this opinion could not be more wrong. Full-time mothers should be praised for their commitment to their families. Being a full-time mom isn’t easy and it’s no less important than any other position. A full-time mom might possibly have the most important position in the family. Mothers spend the most time with their children and have more opportunities to share Yahweh’s truth and be an influence. Their role in the development of that child is enormous. It wasn’t a coincidence that Paul praised Lois and Eunice for their nurturing and guidance of young Timothy.
As seen from the Bible, both the father and mother have pivotal roles in the upbringing of their children. This is why children often suffer in single parent homes. Fathers and mothers fill different needs in a family and when one parent is missing there is going to be a deficiency in the raising of that child. The story of Timothy continues in 2Timothy 3:15. “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 Messiah Yahshua.” Paul says here that Timothy knew the Scriptures from a child. It was his childhood that made him the man he was. This goes back to what Yahweh says in the shema and what Solomon says in the book of Proverbs. If parents teach their children Yahweh’s Word early, they will retain that knowledge when they are grown. Timothy’s success can be traced back to the devotion of his mother and grandmother. If not for them and Yahweh’s Word, his life may have been vastly different. Many children suffer today simply because they lack the nurturing that Timothy had, as well as others like him. It cannot be impressed upon parents enough the impact and influence they have on their kids. If we use our time wisely, we can impact our children in ways that will follow them all their days.
Two Examples, Two Outcomes
In closing, let’s consider two examples of parenting. In 1Samuel 2:18 we find the example of the boy Samuel. It reads, “But Samuel ministered before Yahweh, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice…And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with Yahweh, and also with men.”
Who was this extraordinary boy? He was the son of Elkanah and Hannah. The Bible says that Hannah was barren or unable to have children. One year when Elkanah and Hannah went to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh, Hannah prayed for a son and promised Yahweh that if He would answer her prayer, she would dedicate her son to His service. Yahweh answered Hannah’s prayer; she kept her word and gave her son to Eli the priest. From the beginning, the Bible confirms that Samuel’s parents were people of devotion and integrity. It says that they would go up every year to worship and sacrifice unto Yahweh. The Bible says that Samuel grew in favor with both Yahweh and men.
In the end, Samuel proved to be one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. He never deviated or forsook Yahweh’s truth; he remained strong and was a beacon of light for those who served Yahweh. It’s important to realize that Samuel’s walk began as a child; he served Yahweh as a child, and continued serving Him when he was grown. The same cannot be said about the sons of Eli. “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 Yahweh’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against Yahweh, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because Yahweh would slay them,” 1Samuel 2:22-25.
The Bible states that Eli’s sons were wicked and rebellious. They defiled Yahweh’s worship and caused Israel to sin. While the Bible doesn’t provide much detail as to how Eli raised his sons, he obviously fell short. However, with the exception of his sons, Eli was a good man and served Yahweh faithfully. The sad reality is, parental neglect by ministers isn’t all that uncommon. Many ministers are so concerned about others that they become complacent with their own families. Even though it’s often difficult, those who minister must achieve a balance between the ministry and their families. They cannot neglect the one for the other. Consider this, if a minister has problems in his personal life, how is it possible for him to effectively minister to others? Raising children is an enormous responsibility, but well worth the work and effort. There is nothing more rewarding than to watch your children grow up as respected adults with a love for you and their Heavenly Father. For more info like this please read our booklet: Restore the Lock in Wedlock
by: Randy Folliard