Parenting, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task. But with God all things are possible. “It is the privilege of parents to take their children with them to the gates of the city of God, saying, “I have tried to instruct my children to love the Lord, to do His will, and to glorify Him.” To such the gate will be thrown open, and parents and children will enter in. But all cannot enter. Some are left outside with their children, whose characters have not been transformed by submission to the will of God. A hand is raised, and the words are spoken, “You have neglected home duties. You have failed to do the work that would have fitted the soul for a home in heaven. You cannot enter.” The gates are closed to the children because they have not learned to do the will of God, and to parents because they have neglected the responsibilities resting upon them.1
The world is filled with new theories and parenting tips by supposed “experts in their field”. But the best parent of all time is God the Father. All the combined knowledge from all the parenting books in the world are no match compared to the truth and knowledge found in the word of God. Let’s not waste our time with the theories of learned men. It’s time to put aside the New York Times bestsellers and listen to the best parent of all time, God. What are some parenting commandments that God has given to His people? Let’s dig into the words of inspiration today.
But before we do so let us pray..
Dear loving Heavenly Father,
We ask for you guidance today as we learn how to become better parents. We thank you for the blessings you have given us in our children. We know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and we thank you Father for the tremendous gifts of our children. And we know that with each good gift you give us, comes responsibility. Help us dear Lord to have open hearts and open minds as we read from your word today. Help us to make decided changes in our actions if we are deficient in any area in parenting. We know Lord that you will never leave us nor forsake us, we thank you for helping us and hearing our prayers today. We pray all these things in Jesus name, amen.
Principle #1 – Guard your children from evil influences in the education system.
Key Text: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
What is this verse about? Education. The Lord declares that education in this verse is of vital importance.“Some fathers and mothers are so indifferent, so careless, that they think it makes no difference whether their children attend a church school or a public school. “We are in the world,” they say, “and we cannot get out of it.” But, parents, we can get a good way out of the world, if we choose to do so. We can avoid seeing many of the evils that are multiplying so fast in these last days. We can avoid hearing about much of the wickedness and crime that exist.”2 “Send the children to schools located in the city, where every phase of temptation is waiting to attract and demoralize them, and the work of character building is tenfold harder for both parents and children.” 3 The world can pollute both us and our children if we are not careful. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. ~ James 1:27
One of our goals as a follower of Christ is to be unspotted, unpolluted by a sinful world. As the word of God has a sanctifying positive influence on us. Satan too, understands the power of literature. Textbooks and teaching systems that are not based on the word of God will be based on another teaching system. One which is contrary to, which is subtly designed to instill doubt in the word of God. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.4” Satan too follows such a principle. Only his direction for each child is in direct opposition to where God desires. Because the Holy Spirit is so powerful, even adults who have never heard of Christ have later in life come to know the Lord. But Satan is busy working on the minds of the youth by building up sinful habits, doubts and various other barriers to keep the word of God from penetrating the soul. Our job as parents is to protect our children as much as possible by removing all of Satan’s attacks and instead teaching our children the way they should go, by seeking Christ.
Jesus said…”The sower soweth the word.” Here is presented the great principle which should underlie all educational work. “The seed is the word of God.” But in too many schools of our day God’s word is set aside. Other subjects occupy the mind. The study of infidel authors holds a large place in the educational system. Skeptical sentiments are interwoven in the matter placed in school books. Scientific research becomes misleading, because its discoveries are misinterpreted and perverted. The word of God is compared with the supposed teachings of science, and is made to appear uncertain and untrustworthy. Thus the seeds of doubt are planted in the minds of the youth, and in time of temptation they spring up. When faith in God’s word is lost, the soul has no guide, no safeguard. The youth are drawn into paths which lead away from God and from everlasting life.
To this cause may in great degree be attributed the widespread iniquity in our world today. When the word of God is set aside, its power to restrain the evil passions of the natural heart is rejected. Men sow to the flesh, and of the flesh they reap corruption.5
Principle # 2 – A lack of idleness will keep you and your children away from sin.
Key texts: And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. ~ 1 Timothy 5:13
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5-66
I have been shown that much sin has resulted from idleness. Active hands and minds do not find time to heed every temptation which the enemy suggests, but idle hands and brains are all ready for Satan to control. The mind, when not properly occupied, dwells upon improper things. Parents should teach their children that idleness is sin. I was referred to Ezekiel 16:49: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”7
There is nothing which more surely leads to evil than to lift all burdens from children, leaving them to an idle, aimless life, to do nothing, or to occupy themselves as they please. The minds of children are active, and if not occupied with that which is good and useful, they will inevitably turn to what is bad. While it is right and necessary for them to have recreation, they should be taught to work, to have regular hours for physical labor and also for reading and study. See that they have employment suited to their years and are supplied with useful and interesting books.8
Principle #3 – Self control is needed in disciple. Pray with your children before disciplining them.
Key Text: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:22-24
“Impatience in the parents excites impatience in the children. Passion manifested by the parents creates passion in the children and stirs up the evils of their nature. Some parents correct their children severely in a spirit of impatience, and often in passion. Such corrections produce no good result. In seeking to correct one evil, they create two. Continual censuring and whipping hardens children and weans them from their parents. Parents should first learn to control themselves, then they can more successfully control their children. Every time they lose self-control, and speak and act impatiently, they sin against God. They should first reason with their children, clearly point out their wrongs, show them their sin, and impress upon them that they have not only sinned against their parents, but against God. With your own heart subdued and full of pity and sorrow for your erring children, pray with them before correcting them. Then your correction will not cause your children to hate you. They will love you. They will see that you do not punish them because they have put you to inconvenience, or because you wish to vent your displeasure upon them; but from a sense of duty, for their good, that they may not be left to grow up in sin.”9
Principle #4 – Television, internet, video games. Where do you stand?
Key text: I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me. ~ Psalm 101:3
Are we following this principle? Or are we lax in teaching it to our children and enforcing it in our home? “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes”, not some things wicked for the sake of pleasure.
About a year ago I was at work and one day I was really hungry. Even though I could have waited just 3 more hours before work was over, I decided to head over to McDonald’s and eat some apple pies. After I got home from work that day I had discovered that my kind neighbors had surprised me with a wonderful plate of homemade vegetarian Mexican food. Mexican food is my favorite so I was in heaven! Any day of the week I could have easily eaten all the food on that plate, but that day even though I tried my best I just couldn’t finish the food. Because I had filled myself up with junk food. Are you filling yourself up with junk food… secular movies, television and music instead of the word of God? I believe it is time we threw away the junk food, and feed on the pure word of God. Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God10” Jesus compared the word of God to food. He said you cannot live without it. Are we spiritually starving? In order to be filled with the word of God we must first empty ourselves.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8
Do your child’s video games fall into the category of true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy? I know a lot of video games and I can’t think of a single game that meets all these criteria. “But mom, everyone else plays these games why can’t I”? It is true that the majority of parents today do allow their children to play violent and impure video games. But the word of God says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly”11 The term “Everything in moderation” is not found in the Bible. A knowledge of evil was not God’s plan for His children. It should not be your plan for your children either.
All Christians should thoroughly understand and practice the principle found in 2 Corinthians 3:18, it is written…
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 says by beholding we become transformed, or by beholding we become changed. This is a powerful principle to help us become more like Christ. By beholding the love, the mercy, the kindness and meekness of Christ we become changed. We are to keep our eyes of Jesus.
Jesus said…”Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.12” Satan also says “Watch…..what I want you to watch. For by beholding evil, you will be come changed”. It’s time to stop watching what Satan wants us to watch. It is never too late to implement this principle, begin today. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good13. Do not just take away your child’s video games and other forms of entertainment that promote evil but take them away and replace them with something good. Regarding television and movies, ask yourself, would you allow your children to watch what you are watching? If no then why not? Is it because it contains bad influences, glorification of sin or other vices?
Then why are you watching such? Let us therefore lead by example.
Principle # 5 – Very carefully select your child’s friends, do not allow them to choose their own associations.
Key texts: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:33
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.” ~ Proverbs 12:26
Wait a second, this is a little extreme. Choose your child’s friends? As I grew up, where do you think I played the violent video games? Where do you think I was exposed to the greatest amounts of evils? Not at my house, at my friends’ houses! And some of the parents of my friends were professed Christians. I was recently enjoying an after church potluck when I struck up a conversation with a parent of a four year old. She told me that she was shocked to hear her child repeat the filthiest words in the English language after returning from childcare, words that had never been uttered or heard in her home. I asked her if the teachers used such language. Most assuredly not she said. “Did the daycare allow television to be watched?”. “No”, she said. “Then there can be only one explanation, your child must have heard such language from the other children at the daycare.” My friends, do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”14
“Satan and his host are making most powerful efforts to sway the minds of the children, and they must be treated with candor, Christian tenderness, and love. This will give you a strong influence over them, and they will feel that they can repose unlimited confidence in you. Throw around your children the charms of home and of your society. If you do this, they will not have so much desire for the society of young associates. Satan works through these, leading them to influence and corrupt the minds of one another. It is the most effectual way in which he can work. The young have a powerful influence over one another. Their conversation is not always choice and elevated. Evil communications are breathed into the ear, which, if not decidedly resisted, find a lodgement in the heart, take root, and spring up to bear fruit and corrupt good manners.”15
Principle # 6 – Do not neglect the home education. In neglecting your duty you transgress the commandment of God. Know that God will bless your efforts.
Key text: And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-8
“All diligence is needed in teaching our children right principles in this world. It is the parents privilege to help their children obtain that knowledge which they may carry with them into the future life. But for some reason many parents dislike to give their children religious instruction. They leave them to pick up in Sabbath school the knowledge they should impart concerning their responsibility to God. Such parents need to understand that God desires them to educate, discipline, and train their children, ever keeping before them the fact that they are forming characters for the present and the future life.
Do not depend upon the teachers of the Sabbath school to do your work of training your children in the way they should go. The Sabbath school is a great blessing; it may help you in your work, but it can never take your place. God has given to all fathers and mothers the responsibility of bringing their children to Jesus, teaching them how to pray and believe in the word of God.
In the education of your children lay not the grand truths of the Bible to one side, supposing that the Sabbath school and the minister will do your neglected work. The Bible is not too sacred and sublime to be opened daily and studied diligently. The truths of the word of God are to be brought into contact with the supposed little things of life. If rightly regarded they will brighten the common life, supplying motives for obedience and principles for the formation of a right character.”16
Principle # 7 – Know that you have the world’s greatest Father always read to listen, always ready to aid you and always willing to guide you.
Key Text: Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7
Your compassionate Redeemer is watching you with love and sympathy, ready to hear your prayers and to render you the assistance which you need. He knows the burdens of every mother’s heart and is her best friend in every emergency. His everlasting arms support the God-fearing, faithful mother. When upon earth, He had a mother that struggled with poverty, having many anxious cares and perplexities, and He sympathizes with every Christian mother in her cares and anxieties. That Savior who took a long journey for the purpose of relieving the anxious heart of a woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit will hear the mother’s prayers and will bless her children.17
Parents may understand that as they follow God’s directions in the training of their children, they will receive help from on high. They receive much benefit; for as they teach, they learn. Their children will achieve victories through the knowledge that they have acquired in keeping the way of the Lord. They are enabled to overcome natural and hereditary tendencies to evil.18 Are you struggling perhaps with the media that you are allowing into your home? Does your disciple lack self control and prayer? Are you neglecting the education of your children or sending them to educational institutions that are not following God? Is there a point or more than one point mentioned above that you are not doing? Would you like to make that commitment to follow these principles today? If so let us make that commitment to God through prayer today and ask our loving heavenly Father to help us. Then let us not just be hearers but doers of the word, let us take the first step of faith by taking an action to correct the errors and God will honor your step of faith. God will never forsake you if you never forsake Him. Let us rededicate ourselves to the Lord today as we close in prayer.
Gracious and loving Heavenly Father,
We thank you for your pure word. Your truth as found in your inspired writings that have given us. Lord forgive us for our sins, the many times when we have disobeyed your clear principles in regards to these matters. Lord you know our hearts and what we are currently failing at. Help us Lord to do your will, grant us the strength and conviction to make decided changes beginning today to follow your commandments. Remind us lest we forget in the future. Be with our children, help them to grow up in your truth and to stand firm in your truth. Lord perhaps there is a specific principle today that touched our heart, that brought us under conviction. We know that you have said Those whom you love you rebuke and disciple so may we be earnest and repent19. May we run to your loving arms, and do thy will. May we repent by your power and grace. Help us to obey your words today and each day we ask, in Jesus name, amen.
1 Manuscript 31, 1909 E.G. White
2 Adventist Home p. 406
3 Fundamentals of Christian Education p. 326 E.G. White
4 Proverbs 22:6
5 Christ Object Lessons p. 41
6 All Bible texts are from the KJV or NKJV, excluding 1 Thessalonians 3:5-6 which is from the NIV
7 Testimonies For the Church Volume 1 p. 395
8 Counsels For The Church p. 194
9 Testimonies For The Church Volume 1 p. 398
10 Matthew 4:4
12 Mark 14:38
13 Romans 12:21
14 1 Corinthians 15:33
15 Testimonies For The Church Volume 1 p. 387 (underline emphasis added)
16 Adventist Home p. 188-189
17 Adventist Home p. 204
18 Adventist Home p. 205
19 Revelation 3:19