Sunday, July 8, 2007

What We Owe Our Children

“…for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” (2 Cor.12:14b)

I once heard a pastor’s wife from Texas repeat something she heard an elderly saint in her church say, who obviously did not know much about grammar, but who possessed a great deal of wisdom about human nature. Commenting on a family of brothers and sisters who all ended up bad, she said, “Well, they didn’t have no raisins’; they just growed up.” Sad to say, that is the lot of many children today. The idea that “it takes a village to raise a child” may seem to make sense in a society that has managed to splinter the basic idea of a home through education, legislation, and self-gratification. But the fact remains, the best arrangement, as presented by God, is one father who is a man, one mother who is a woman, and one Book, which is the Bible. One of the first two may be lacking (e.g., Timothy), but the principles laid down in the last are infallible. The grown son or daughter is free to choose his or her own way, but he or she can never fully eradicate Biblical precepts taught by godly parents if internalized by the Spirit of God. They will eventually be either acknowledged or faced, one of the two.

The cited verse in 2 Corinthians has been used to prove that parents should plan financially for their children’s future, something that may, in any case, be a good thing. But to offer this verse on parental obligation as something that goes beyond providing for children at home (1Tim.5:8), it would seem to me, is to put other such verses in the same category (personal instruction, correction, and discipline, etc.). I would not quibble with those who disagree, but I do think the argument is ambiguous enough that I am comfortable using the verse as a springboard for personal thoughts on those intangible things that I think parents owe their children. I’ve put them in a time frame.

First, parents owe their children yesterday. By this I mean, every child should have happy memories to share with their own children and to cherish as they grow older. This is not to say that everything in their lives as they are growing up must be happy, with no hard times or disappointments. Such a childhood is both unrealistic and unhelpful. Shared hardships and mingled tears give rise to mutual victories that make some of the sweetest memories of all.

Second, we owe our children today. They deserve our attention, both undivided and divided, especially when they are young. The first (undivided) involves quality, and the second (divided) speaks of quantity. And make no mistake; both are significant. The times when you are simply there at home with them—within hollering distance!—are just as important as those times when everything else takes second place, and you are within whispering distance.

Third, we owe them tomorrow. Here I mean the assurance of fulfilled promises. There are few things in life as intense as the anticipation of a child. From infancy, they are hard-wired with an assumption that the ones who are responsible for bringing them into the world are obliged to tell them the truth. They may become dissuaded of this at some stage, and it will have a great influence on how they look at other people and life, in general.

Finally, we owe our children eternity. They deserve to have a knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Think of it; when you and I brought a life into this world, it was one that will exist forever. To succeed in giving our children yesterday, today, and tomorrow, with no provision for eternity is to abdicate them to the devil, as far as we are concerned. They may be well fed, well clothed, and their future well provided for, but they are destitute of the only thing that gives meaning to life—a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

As you who are parents know, raising children is an expensive endeavor, one reason why some have opted out, no doubt. Yet these four things (yesterday, today, tomorrow, and eternity), in themselves are quite inexpensive. Granted, they will cost you time, which some equate with money, but the dividends well outstrip the expenditures. It is not an exact science. The results are not always prompt and are never perfect. (Why should one expect perfect results from imperfect ingredients?) But to neglect these things I have mentioned is to insure failure, unless God intervenes in His mercy. My husband and I always wanted our children to have every Spiritual advantage. Then it was up to them to take that advantage or squander it.

Our children are our greatest assets. We don’t owe them a living, but we do owe them the tools to build a life. “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa.54:13).

No comments:

Post a Comment