The Value Of Admonishing Our Children

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6:4

I want to talk about the word “admonition” in this scripture. It is fair, though, to also say something about the word “nurture” since it is also mentioned here.

Another word for “nurture” would be foster or develop. When it comes to fostering our children in the ways of the Lord, it is the life of Christ that we carry in us that will help to foster our children in the knowledge of Christ. Christian parents are like an incubator. They incubate their children – in the ways of the Lord. And there is no way you can do this unless you allow them to see Christ through the example of your life.

The second word, “admonition”, talks of warning. We are to warn our children in the ways of the Lord. In other words, we are to speak to our children about God.

It is a good thing to speak to our children about God. Let me give an example to illustrate this. My children, just like all children, love watching TV till the late hours of night. (Actually, we do not have TV, it is the videos they love watching.)

I don’t like it that my children love staying in front of the TV screen until midnight. I have talked to them severally regarding this but, apparently, my talk show has not borne much fruit. They will give this and that excuse and right after, I wake up at night to find them all quietly sitted watching a movie or whatever. If it was those early days they wouldn’t dare do it since I would shut that TV down and send them to bed with a boot to their backsides. But now they have gotten older, and I cannot discipline them in such a manner. Moreover, my going easy with them is my way of showing my appreciation to them for not being such a big headache to me in their teenage years.

Anyways, one Sunday, one of our pastors was preaching in church and he decided to direct his sermon to the youth. He read from Hebrews 12 and talked to them about the value of parental chastening. He told them that parents do it out of love. And he said, “If your parent ever stopped talking to you, or if they ever got tired of admonishing you, that would be the end of you.”

That evening, I was working on my laptop in my room when, at 10 p.m., I heard the lights going off in the sitting room, and I heard doors closing as my children went to their bedrooms. I had forgotten all about the sermon, and I was surprised to see my children going to bed so early? They had recently began watching an exciting new series and every day I would wake up at night to find them glued to the TV screen.

It was then that I recalled the sermon that we had heard that morning. I realized then that my children had quietly taken the pastor’s words to heart, and I was seeing the fruits.

I believe it is good to speak to your children about the Lord. God’s Word is powerful. One day, the words that you speak to them will bear fruit. It might be sooner, or it might take time. But whatever the time-frame, God will respect His Word that you have lovingly planted in your child’s life.

Much of the trouble that we witness coming from children nowadays stems from the fact that parents do not see the importance of “admonishing” their children in the ways of the Lord. In such a scenario, how can you blame the child who has never even heard the name “Jesus” mentioned in his/her home?

Let us be encouraged to talk to our children the words of life. And may we learn to put them in an environment where they will keep hearing these words.

[Three generations of “admonition of the Lord”]

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The Family

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Col. 3:18-4:1

We should be extremely wary of the flesh, especially in relation to our families. You notice in this scripture that Paul is not talking about relationships within the church, but within the family. And here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that even a servant is a part of the family.

The reason for this need for vigilance is because it is the easiest thing for us to cast ourselves into a mould, where things become ‘normalised’ and we are no longer running the race we have been called to. The whole concept of salvation, including our relationships, is a daily race, and a gritty one. It is a race of the Spirit vs the flesh. But it is with the family that God is most concerned and it is with the family that this race must begin.

My son is a slow learner, and much of the time (at least, according to my estimations) he does things contrary to the instructions I give him.  I am well aware that there was some delay during his delivery and this was what caused his condition. But this knowledge does nothing to calm my high-strung calibre and much of the time, the things that my son does have me clawing up the wall, literally.

And so it was that one day I was watering my garden and I asked him to carefully move the hose for me between the young plants. Instead of picking the part of the hose I had shown him, he picked the wrong one and in the process he ended up breaking one or two of my precious plants.

To talk of a sonic boom here would hardly do credit to the bellow I let out. If you ever saw Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast”, well, the Beast’s roars there are a downgraded version of what occurred that afternoon. My son stood still as I went on the warpath and blasted him into Neverland.

But the Lord is good and I thank Him for His mercy towards me. After my son had left the crime scene, the Lord quietly came to me and showed me the rot that was in my heart. As I lay on my bed that the evening, I called my son.

“Joe”, I said, “I want you to forgive me for what I did to you this evening. I am truly sorry and please know that I love you.”

I was sorely tempted to add, “But please, please try harder at doing things right”; but with all the effort I had I bit my tongue and held my peace.

Notice the Bible says, both in Colossians above and in Ephesians 6:4, that fathers should not provoke their children to anger. The Bible here is not talking of the small children that we in our selfishness are wont to spoil. Rather, when children reach a certain age, when they are in their teens, it is the time that their independence begins to assert itself, and it is here that parents need to be very careful to not to stamp out that independence. It is this independence, nurtured in the love of God, that will lead your child on to maturity.

There are any number of scenarios with regard to our lack of vigilance. It is the easiest thing, for example, for the wife or husband to enter into an adulterous relationship with another person, not for any other reason than that they have not been vigilant in their relationship to their spouse. But it requires a daily death to the flesh for that relationship to stay renewed in the Spirit.

The same goes for every other relationship within the family. The parents need to die for their children; and the children, likewise, for their parents. The servant needs the death of the cross to work in him for him to serve his master as he would serve Christ; likewise, the man and woman of the house towards their servant. If the work of the cross is not in them, they can easily look down on or mistreat their servants.

It is the easiest thing for the pastor to run about pastoring everyone else except his family. He never spends time with his wife or children! It is no wonder, therefore, that many pastors today stand accused of having adulterous affairs with other women, because they were unable to pay the price needed to take time with their wives.

It is the easiest thing for the mother to be busy, oh! inviting over and welcoming all those beloved brothers and sisters in Christ – but never having a thought for her children. And the children become rebellious and she wonders why!

It is the easiest thing, as I said, for us to allow the flesh in its various forms to take over control of our families. It is the easiest thing for us to become selfish and to look only to our own interests: the father, to his own pride; the child, his/her own independence, etc. But the Bible in 1 Peter 5:8 says:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”

It talks about the devil there, but it might as well be talking of our flesh. The flesh is always lying in wait for us, ready at any moment to step in and take control the minute we lose our vigilance. That is why we need to be very vigilant in our relations with our family members.

The church setting is meant to overflow with the love and selfless sacrifice of Christ. And it has to begin with the family. As one of my friends used to say, you cannot jump to No.2 before you are done with No.1. The family is the Number One place where we are required to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and to follow Christ.

[My family. The highest responsibility I have is both to my wife and children, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Eph. 6:4]

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