OceanSide church of Christ
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WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN?
Victor M. Eskew
Both testaments exhort parents to teach their children. Moses commanded Israel, saying: “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” (Deut. 6:6-7). To Christian parents, Paul addressed these words: “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
One of the ways parents teach their children is through example. Our example involves both the words we speak and the behaviors we display before our children. These things become a pattern that our children follow. Children put a great deal of trust in their mothers and fathers. They believe the things they do and say must be right. If mom and dad can do it, then it must be acceptable for them to do it.
With these thoughts in mind, we as the question: “What are we teaching our children?” What are we teaching our children about Bible classes by our example? There are many parents who do not see Bible class as something that is very important to attend. They will stay at home until just a few minutes before the worship hour, then, they will attend the worship services only. Children learn that Bible study and attendance of Bible classes is not needed. This is sad in light of II Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thy self approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
What are we teaching our children about promptness and being on time to spiritual events by our example? There are many parents who have made it a habit of being late to Bible classes, worship, gospel meetings, etc. They seem to make it on time to work, to movies, and to sporting events, however. Their children are learning that the carnal things of the world are important to get to on time, but spiritual events do not demand their promptness.
What are we teaching our children about Christian service? For some parents, the extent of their Christian service involves attending the Sunday morning worship service. Even this service is not a high priority. They are not involved in the education program, the visitation program, mission work, benevolence, VBS, gospel meetings, youth events, etc. Their children learn by their actions. Not surprisingly, their children are not involved in youth devotionals, youth days, Bible Bowls, mission trips, and VBS. “Mom and dad don’t do it. Why should we?” they reason.
What are we teaching our children about speaking evil of our brothers and sister in Christ? These are some who cannot seem to find any good within their brethren. Conversely, they can find every fault and every weakness. They search for these flaws with a fine-toothed comb. Once the fault is seen, they feel that it is their duty to magnify it. They report it to all who will listen. (Sadly, there are always those who love to feed on garbage). Parents forget that tender little ears are listening to all that is being said. They are learning that in order to make one’s self look good, they must put others down. They learn that being hypercritical and standing in severe judgment of others is their duty. Restoration of the erring has nothing to do with it. Their job is limited to exposing the faults of others to any who will listen.
What is our example teaching about children about anger and how it is to be expressed? In and of itself, anger is not a sin. However, if it is not properly controlled and ultimately put away, it can be a sin which leads to other sins. Some parents teach their children that anger should be displayed by cursing and foul language. Some parents teach their children that anger can be expressed by violent actions (i.e., throwing things, hitting things, pushing, slapping, and other physical acts of aggression). Kids see these things. Again, they reason that if mom or dad can do these things, so can we. The child’s aggression will usually begin at home. He will display it to the weaker parent, or, against a sibling. It will often blossom into the classroom at school or in a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The home they establish later in life will usually continue the cycle of anger found in their childhood home.
What are we teaching our children about sin? Some parents believe that they can be acceptable to God and others as long as others do not know about their sin. Some actions are deemed “acceptable” in homes as long as others do not know about them. Cursing, gambling, drinking of alcohol, and viewing pornography are examples of such actions. Kids learn that they, too, can have their “covered” lives. Their sins involve sex before marriage, drinking, cursing, cheating, stealing, and taking drugs. In mom and dad can have “secret sins,” so can we, they think.
What are we teaching our children about work and money? Many couples have made their work the most important part of their lives. It is not just a means of obtaining financial resources necessary for living. Work is their life. They work six or seven days a week. They work twelve or fourteen hours a day. There is no time for family. There is no time for spiritual things. O yes, they have all the nice things of life, but the family unit suffers. Children soon learn that work comes before all else. It even comes before their service to Jesus Christ. The young person takes a job a sixteen. His works thirty of forty hours each week and goes to school. He has a nice car, stereo, and clothes. His spiritual garments are not as nice, however. That’s okay, though. Mom and dad are in the same condition.
Parents, your children are not yours. They are on loan from God. In other words, God has entrusted their lives unto as His property. We, as parents, are stewards of these precious little gifts. As stewards, it is essential that we are faithful in our duty. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2). One day the Lord will return, and we will give an account of our stewardship. “After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them” (Matt. 25:19). Each parent will be held accountable for the manner in which he reared his children. It will be no laughing matter. God holds his stewards very accountable. “Then he which had received one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou are an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:24-30).