Rearing Children God's Way

Bible Book: Ephesians  6 : 1-4
Subject: Mother's Day; Children, Rearing; Family; Fathers

Ephesians 6:1-4

I must confess I was not feeling very kindly toward the child or the parent the other evening when I was looking for an item in a local store and heard this child about four or five years of age scream at his mother, "I want it! I want it now!" Sweetly, gently, kindly the mother responded, "Come on, honey." "No! I want it now!" he insisted and punctuated with a scream. Her gentle discussion with the child continued while he got louder all the time. Finally she took the little darling by the hand and dragged him screaming from the store.

I didn't know whether to feel put out with the child or with the parent. As a parent I get turned inside out by an insolent child and also by an irresponsible parent. I guess I am pretty old fashioned as a parent, but I feel very firmly that a great source of our societal ills come from the fact that rearing children in the home has been done so poorly by so many for so long.

Where have we missed the mark with our children? Simply put, parents have spent more time reading secular books about rearing children than the greatest textbook of all on the home, the Bible. Parents have listened to contemporary sociologists and psychologists on the TV talk shows and swallowed hook, line and sinker their advice that children be allowed the freedom to choose their own way. Parents have opted for this direction in wholesale fashion rather than to listen to God, the creator of all children, regarding the proper way to rear children in the home. It is high time that the creator Himself be heard regarding rearing children God's way.

Our text today gives us help in understanding God's way for the rearing of our children. He made us; He ought to know. As we read these words we must admit that the Bible is not the way most people seem to be raising their children today. What I am staying to you today is that this is a basic reason that we are in the fix we are in our society.

For some of you whose children are practically grown this message will not be as practical as I hope that it will be for those of you who are expecting at the present time or who have young children. The time is right for you to "listen up" to the Word of God and prepare yourselves for the tough job of raising your children and doing it God's way.

I. Being A Child-God's Way

First I want to speak to all of the children here and to our young people. I want to insist that you give careful attention to Ephesians 6:1-3. You will notice right away that out of a four verse text, three of the verses are about your behavior toward your parents. The verses simply point out the fact that you are to honor your mother and father. You are to be obedient to them. Notice first of all that verse 1 says, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." That word "obey" is a very simple and yet graphic Greek word. It literally means "to hear under." What the Lord is saying to you is this, "Children, get under the authority of your parents and listen."

We are living in strange days when society is trying to teach that we need to liberate children, to free them from parental authority. The idea is that a child should have the right to choose his own destiny, his own religion, his own morality. But please note that's not God's way. The Bible says quite clearly that children are to be under the authority of their parents and to listen to them.

Furthermore, in verse 2, Paul teaches that the child is to "honor your father and mother." This is a total lifetime commitment, young people. Even when the obedience ends the honor must go on. We are to hold our parents in awe and honor so that there will be a proper relationship throughout life. Notice that obedience has to do with action while the word honor has to do with attitude. If your attitude is right and you are honoring your mother and father, then the action will be right as well.

Now let's take a look at how serious God is about a child honoring his parents. Take a look at Exodus 21:15, 17 (read).

The reason that God, in His way of rearing children, requires that childhood be marked with honor and obedience is that all human relationships are based on what is learned in childhood. If reverence, respect and obedience are learned in the days of your youth, then it will provide a foundation that will stand you in good stead throughout your entire life.

God's basic plan for the child is obedience. If your children are still living at home whether in elementary, junior high, high school or college, they are still under responsibility of obedience to you as the parent.

Now, take a good look at the attitude involved. It is not just the action, but the attitude which involved honor. Honor is to be the attitude behind the act of obedience. An act without the proper attitude is hypocrisy. The word "honor" in the Greek literally means "to reverence, hold in awe." It is the word that is used in John 5:23 of our proper relationship toward Jesus the Son, even as we honor the Father. We are to have this attitude of reverence, honor, and respect toward our parents all of our lives.

In Matthew 15:1-6 Jesus interpreted the command to honor father and mother as referring to financial support by their children. He was responding to the Pharisees and Scribes who tried to get around the actual intent of God's law by inventing their own traditions. (read)

I remember speaking to Dr. Page Kelley in his office one day at the seminary regarding the commandment to honor father and mother. He brought a point that I had not realized as he said most often we think of this commandment with regard to small children. But the commandment was actually a directive that was needed among the older children with aging parents. We never outgrow the responsibility to honor our parents.

John McArthur put it this way: "Let's face it, during the first half of our lives our parents give us everything they have to supply their children's needs. The other side of the coin is that when they are no longer able to meet their own needs, it becomes the children's responsibility to take care of them. Do you see the overlapping of the generations? The cycle never ends. It is God's way of producing families that stick together and pass along the inheritance of an unselfish love." (John McArthur, Jr., The Family. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982, p. 87.)

Now, what about the promise of this commandment found in verse 2 of our text. Paul writes, "This is the first commandment with a promise." This commandment is so important that God has attached a promise to it. It is important because it is the key to all human relationships and the passing on of a righteous heritage.Verse 3 spells out the promise: "That it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." The promise described both the quality and the quantity of life. First of all the quality of life is described in the words "that it may be well with you." There is a sense of peace and fulfillment that comes to the child young or old who is honoring his parents. There is a sense of fulfillment in knowing that he is doing what is right in the sight of God.

The promise also speaks of the quantity of life: "And that you may live long on the earth." This promise speaks about the living out to the full the time that God has allotted to us. When children are obedient, when they honor their parents, then they have a full and rich life here on earth and live with God in His kingdom for eternity, in every possible way this promise will be fulfilled in the life of obedient and honoring children.

II. The Line Of Least Resistance

Next, I want to speak to parents to encourage them to be aligned with God's way in the rearing of their children. I'll never forget a commercial that I saw on television a few years ago. The father came home from a hard day at work to find his child scribbling on the wall with a crayon. The mother in full sight of the child was in the kitchen preparing the evening dinner. He looks at the camera and says, "My wife's idea of child rearing is permissive everything!"

For the past 35-40 years we have been creating an undisciplined generation with the help of psychologists and teachers who promote a permissive methodology of child rearing. We have been told that spanking a child is barbaric, uncivilized, and abusive, to any modern and intelligent parent. We have been taught to spare the rod and spoil the child and many parents have quickly taken up this approach, quite frankly, because it is the line of least resistance.

It is no fun to discipline your children. When I was a boy and my father said this hurts me worse than it hurts you, I couldn't believe it, but when I became a parent I realized that discipline is harder on the parent than it is on the child. It's just a whole lot easier to let a child grow like a weed than to cultivate that child and help that child to grow into a healthy young adult.

In responding to the advice we have been successful in creating an entire generation of young people who have no respect for authority. It began when parents were more inclined to believe ungodly teachers and psychologists than they were the Word of God. And so we have raised in this generation many moral misfits, juvenile delinquents, student drug pushers, and rebellious teenagers. Discipline is a word that far too many parents avoid. In reality, discipline is a word that might really be spelled l-o-v-e, for discipline is an expression of love.

Proverbs 13:24 says: "He who spares the rod, hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." A parent who loves his child will discipline his child and the parent who does not discipline his child hates his child, knowingly or unknowingly. This is pretty strong language, but God said it in His Word. Dana Stairs was sharing with me about a youth conference in which she was the leader. "We were having a discussion session with a group of high school students on rules, guidelines, and restrictions that parents can expect teenagers to honor. We were sharing rules for  the use of the automobile, respect and authority, and curfews. I'll never forget the sad look in the eyes of a young boy as he looked around the room and said, 'Do you know the saddest thing I ever heard my mother say? The saddest thing I ever heard her say was, 'Don't wake me up when you come in.'"

Proverbs 23:14, teaches us that if we use the rod we will deliver our child from eternal death. That is an awesome responsibility. Many parents, because of the undisciplined way in which they have reared their children, have delivered them into hell forever. The undisciplined child grows up to be a rebel, refusing to submit to the authority of the parents, the authority of the school, the authority of the state, and the authority of God.

Other parents are not willing to have their laid-back life style disturbed with such a troublesome task as administering discipline. "Why rock the boat? Besides, I can't stand to hear the kid cry!" Yet the Bible says that we should not withhold discipline from a child simply because the child is upset about being punished (read Proverbs 23:13-14).

Discipline is an outward expression of love that we have for our children and is consistent with the very nature and character of our God. One of the ways that God proves His love for us is through disciplining us (read Hebrews 12:6).

For the parent to fail to discipline his child is to ignore the teaching of God's Word and to act contrary to His character.

If you will discipline your child you will demonstrate that you truly care for that child and that you are willing to take the time and the effort to punish for wrong behavior. Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Isn't that what you want for your child-a harvest of righteousness and peace. One of these days your grown children will come back and thank you for making a life filled with peace and righteousness a possibility for them.

III. Doing Discipline Right

Once a parent commits himself or herself to discipline of the child he needs to understand that there are numerous forms of discipline that are unwise and unhealthy.

Dr. Jay Adams wrote an excellent article on this subject. He said that many parents (especially mothers) use what he calls the "decibel method" of discipline. A decibel discipliner keeps raising the voice louder and louder until finally it is lost altogether. The child, of course, soon gets used to the noise and the parent has to scream at the child in order to get results: "Do you hear me?"

A little boy whose mother used this method was overheard saying to his playmate, "You don't have to really do anything until she puts on her mad voice." Unfortunately, the child disciplined in this manner learns to live in an atmosphere of tension and animosity. When he grows up, he is full of anger and deals with his children in the same way.

An interesting outcome of Dr. Adams' remarks had to do with the difference between spanking and isolation as forms of discipline. Dr. Adams talked to many children and asked whether they would prefer spanking or being forced to stay in their room, deprived of privileges. The children unanimously said they would rather be spanked. Parents who don't spank their children think they are being merciful yet the children feel otherwise.

During a long drawn out period of punishment a cold distant attitude of alienation grows between the parent and the child. On the other hand if the parent applies the board of education to the seat of learning there may be tears and weeping afterwards but when it is immediately followed by a time of embracing and reconciliation. The air is cleared immediately, and all is forgiven. For corporal punishment or spanking to be effective it should be done in love and not in anger.

A parent must not allow the child's misbehavior to continue until the parent loses his temper and strikes the child on the face or the head. God has created the human body with a proper place for the administration of discipline-a nicely padded backside. To hit a child anywhere else can result in physical harm and permanent emotional scars.

Many children have no idea why their parents have corrected or punished them. They may deduce that their parents are mean or don't want them to have a good time or simply because the parent has lost his temper; he has gotten angry. We must never punish our children in anger but always  chaisten them in love. Furthermore, a conference with the child is vitally important before the discipline is dispensed, to explain to the child what the discipline will be and exactly why it is occurring.

All of this takes time and effort. It takes patience and long suffering. Is parenting tough? You bet it is! But it is highly worth every labored effort of discipline and instruction. Take time to listen to your child. Talk to your child. Find out exactly what is troubling your child and the benefits will be enormous. Dr.

D. James Kennedy gave this word in his testimony: "One evening I had just come home from work when my wife told me our little girl had been impossible all day long. Since I needed evidence, I waited until dinner to see how she would act. As soon as we sat down, she announced that she had no intention of eating her meal. Her bold defiance was too much, and I had to let her know who was in charge. I got up from the table, picked up a wide ruler, and began to ceremoniously slap it on the palm of my hand for effect. Immediately, she picked up her fork and started eating. Not a whine or a word of complaint was heard as I stood there hovering over her saying she would eat every bite. And she did.

I said to myself, 'Jim, old boy, you have just got to let them know who is boss.' As I turned to go back to my chair she upchucked all over the kitchen floor! We then discovered that she hadn't wanted to eat because she wasn't feeling well. As I stood there feeling her forehead and noting the fever, I kept getting a flash of this six foot ogre, slapping a ruler and terrorizing this ill, little girl."

"Do you know what the Bible calls a person who answers a matter before he has heard it fully? The Bible calls him a fool. More than once I have had to go and tell my child I was wrong, and the discipline was unjust. Do you ever apologize to your child and admit that you were wrong? If you do, it will have a great effect upon your child, who will find out that you are human, too, and not above asking for forgiveness."

Charlie Jones, a tremendous Christian, told how he dealt with his son when he came and asked for money. Charlie told his son that in order to get his allowance he would have to read certain books. For each book that his son read and wrote a report on Charlie paid him a set amount. Charlie selected the books that he knew would help develop his son's mind and personality and in addition he chose books that would increase his spiritual growth and his son's commitment to Christ.

Charlie had him read biographies of great missionaries and mighty men and women of God.

When Charlie's son went off to college his father said, "I received a postcard from him every day  while he was in college for four years. One of the most frequently repeated statements was how much he appreciated the number of friends he had gotten to know in the books he had read over the years. He said he was far ahead of his classmates who knew nothing about this great treasure of wisdom and inspiration that he had received."


Folks, that is positive nurture and admonition that is to be dispensed by Christian parents. Bring up your child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Share the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ with your child. The most important gift that you can give your child is to bring him into a genuine spiritual understanding of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The only thing that I know of powerful enough to melt the heart of a rebellious child is the Spirit of God and without that influence in your home your child has little hope of a well-disciplined, positive direction in life.

Train up your child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).