Discover His heart: He expects us to guide and protect our children
Over the years I’ve spent time in large European cities where I have observed very young children on city streets, subways and tourist areas begging for money as the parent or guardian stands by to watch. These children are mostly treated with disdain by those who pass by them, and it’s a heart-wrenching scene to watch. It’s difficult to understand the willingness of parents to sacrifice their children in this cruel process, but then we have our own issues on this side of the big pond. One thing I know for certain is that God expects us to protect our children not exploit them.
@ Deuteronomy 18
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering.” (9-10) Who would do such a despicable thing? Well, mostly no one today, at least with an intention to do so. We may not offer them as a burnt offering, but are we sacrificing them through our ignorance of the detestable customs and practices surrounding us?
I’m always amazed by the television programming, movies, and music that youth, Christian and secular alike, digest each day. Parents have complained through the years about their troubled teens that don’t follow the lifestyle they have lived out in front of them, but other influences are much more attractive and enticing than the day to day routines that parents are exhibiting. To be sure, our godly modeling to our children is valuable, but we need to be attentive to what is captivating their attention through their media as well.
When we discover something in our child’s environment that appears to be questionable or something we just don’t know anything about, our best course of action is to check it out for ourselves and to be knowledgeable about it. If we find something objectionable, a dialogue is much more effective than a declaration as a starting point and it keeps the doors of communication open for the future. If our impressionable youth still does not accept our viewpoint, we may be tempted to let it go because it’s just easier to do so or because we’re afraid of the response that may come, but sacrificing them to the customs of this world just isn’t an option.
When we stick to our convictions, we can offer this resolution to our children: In scripture, we understand that God expects children to obey their parents, and He really doesn’t provide a way around that. If they disobey, God will deal with them. However, if we as parents make an unreasonable demand or an inaccurate assessment that is not righteous, God will deal with us. As the child or youth waits for lighting to strike the parent for grave errors in judgment and the heat of the moment is gone, they often move on to yet another thing or are distracted by something else. The disagreement becomes a moot point. In the process, offering a godly alternative is helpful although not always immediately appreciated. Youth need our guidance whether they like it or not. We do our part, but they are responsible for the decisions they make.
As parents, smothering is not our goal, but guidance and discipline are the responsibility God has given us according to a myriad of scriptures including, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) There’s more than one way to sacrifice our children, and we don’t want to participate in any of them and end up with a millstone around our necks (Matthew 18). Fortunately, we are not alone in raising our children if we submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day and make certain that He is our first reaction to the challenges we face.
Moving Forward: I’m praying for parents who need God’s help today, believing that God will give them the resolve to follow through with their convictions with all the grace and wisdom He has to offer them.
Tomorrow @ Ezra 6-10