Family: What kind of Spiritual Legacy are you leaving them?
I don’t think most people even give this a thought. What is your thinking on this? Are you as a parent only leaving them with a temporal, material inheritance? What kind of priorities have you exemplified for them? How faithful have you been in your studies of the Bible to serve as a good example for them? Have you presented to them a clear explanation of the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ? What have they come to know through you about the right division of Scripture? I am afraid most people have not done a good job with all this. I hope you are, or you will become a wonderful exception to that.
Leaving a quality spiritual legacy with your children begins with teaching them respect for authority? The Bible clearly tells us all authority is of God. This following passage is especially related to civil authorities, but the authority principles stated also apply in the home and elsewhere.
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers [EXOUSIA = authorities]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation [KRIMA = condemnation].
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword [MACHAIRA = sword – used in Roman capital punishment] in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath [ORGE = anger] upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject [submissive to authority figures], not only for wrath [because of punishment], but also for conscience sake. [Emphasis added]
Realizing that all authority is of God, probably the most important thing we can teach our children is respect for authority. That’s the beginning of the road to leaving a solid spiritual legacy. Of all the things Paul could have said about the parent-child relationship, please notice what he talks about. This gives us clear insight about the importance of instilling respect for authority in our children. To fail at this is to fail as a parent. This far exceeds the importance of providing food, clothing, and shelter. The command given below is addressed to children, but it is the parents who must enforce this, making sure that it is complied with faithfully. It is in this manner that respect for authority is instilled in children. Therefore, we see here that training in respect for authority figures begins in the home in the parent-child relationship.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. [Emphasis added]
Isn’t this addressed to children today and in every generation? Doesn’t all this prove to be just as true today as the time in which it was written? Such things as this never change. They are the same in every generation.
In the Proverbs of King Solomon there’s a general promise about properly training our children that every parent needs to be familiar with.
6 Train [CHANIK] up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Emphasis added]
The word, train in this verse is especially important. As a plant is trained or caused to grow in a certain way on a trellis, a child must be caused to live a certain way. Compliance isn’t to be just requested; it is to be required. Because every child has a sinful nature, they are prone to rebel against any and every expression of authority that runs contrary to what they desire to do. Children have a will of their own, but it must be caused to function along the lines of what is good, right, and best. Submission to authority never came naturally for any of us. This is a part of why God has provided parents for children. It is also another reason children are born small enough for the parents to completely control them in those early formative years. It is granted that there’s only so much anyone can do in this, but we surely can set the example and do everything within our power to lead them accordingly. If we don’t instill in them respect for authority, haven’t we failed as parents? Haven’t parents even been given the right and responsibility to enforce their authority over their children? There are passages in the Proverbs of Solomon that point out the need to chasten our children for their rebellion when they’re still minors and in our household. While these commands are shunned and thought to be antiquated, these are principles that will never become obsolete. Because human nature doesn’t change, these principles are just as applicable today as they ever were.
I’m reminded of the story of a man who wrote a book entitled, How to Raise Children. Some years later, after he had several children of his own, he followed it up with a revised version entitled, Helpful Suggestions on Raising Children. Yes, training children well is a challenge for every parent. But if good results are to be gained by parenting God’s way, the Bible tells us of certain things parents must do to bring about those results.
13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. [Emphasis added]
Isn’t the book of Proverbs rightfully thought to be a book of wisdom? It is! It is a book with practical principles for numerous areas of life, including child training and developing a spiritual legacy. And when it comes to using a rod, or what people today speak of as a switch, doesn’t the book of Proverbs drive that point home. We all tend to learn best by repetition. Just look at all these passages that I’m going to list that speak of the use of a rod to teach a child respect for authority.
I’ve heard parents say they’d never use such a thing as a switch because it doesn’t express love for the child. But look at what God’s Word says about such thinking.
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [in time or before it is too late]. [Emphasis added]
It doesn’t get any plainer than that. Is that statement from God’s Word to be ignored, argued with or complied with? Numerous other passages authorize and command the use of this instrument for training purposes.
13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. [Emphasis added]
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. [Emphasis added]
I’m sure there are many parents who don’t even know these words of instruction to them are in the Bible. A rod or a switch will bring the exact right amount of pain without doing any lasting harm to the child. Such cannot be said about a paddle or a board.
13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
The use of the rod can have lasting, even eternal, benefits.
14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. [Emphasis added]
The rod is the perfectly designed instrument for bringing about the desired results. I found many years ago that hardware stores have dowel rods of every size to meet every need.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. [Emphasis added]
The goal or objective is to instill long-lasting wisdom in the heart of the child. Teaching them respect for authority is the principle most basic. It will have places for application throughout their lives. Therefore, it is one of the most important lessons they will ever learn.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. [Emphasis added]
These are all promises of God a parent can count on. Many people are serving time in prisons today because they were never taught respect for authority.
But notice again that first Proverbs passage we looked at in this study. It informs us that it may take even old age for a child to reach the point of where they look back and appreciate the parent’s faithfulness to discipline them and use the rod.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old [ZAQEN = become aged], he will not depart from it. [Emphasis added]
If it happens early on all the better, but it may not. It may take many years for them to see the value of what you did. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the desired results early on. The project itself is always a challenging one. But we’re to be assured that the outcome will always be worth all the ongoing effort you put into the task.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised [GUMNAZO = trained up] thereby. [Emphasis added]
Of course, all discipline should be administered with love for the child being at the heart of what you’re doing. Love always involves the activity of providing what’s best for the object of one’s love. This now leads us to an important question. What is it that a child needs more than anything else? As with all of us, it is instruction in the Word of God. The Bible informs us that this is more important than even food for our body. In addressing the subject of temptation to sin, our Lord makes a very important statement about this.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. [Emphasis added]
We find that due diligence needs to be given to instruct our children in the Word of God. For it is through their knowledge and application of the Word of God that they’ll be equipped to build a wonderful life. In this next verse we even find the manner in which we are to address the Scriptures as we teach them.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
In this same book we even find why we are to be diligent in this.
II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect [ARTIOS = perfected or fitted – brought to maturity], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]
This tells us that typical academic education is not enough, not near enough! People, even the little people, need faithful instruction in the Word of God. Over the years of my life, I’ve not been able to help but notice the trend away from this in America. There was a time when the Bible was the most basic text in every classroom. This was true even in all our colleges and universities. Schools like Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard were first built to train missionaries to go west and evangelize the American Indian. The Bible was used for not only learning the doctrines of Scripture, but such things as reading and history. Again, it was the basic text in every classroom. Are there adverse consequences to be seen in all areas of life because this is no longer a part of public education? Of course! We’re living in a time when so many of our young people are quite shallow and confused in their understanding about even the basic principles of life. It should make anyone wonder what the next generation will look like. It just doesn’t take long for a nation to degenerate. Today the emphasis is almost totally on the material and temporal aspects of life. The learning of God’s Word is given little if any priority at all. What’s important to God is to be what’s important to us. His priorities are to become our priorities. Note the words our Lord gave to His prophet Samuel when a new king was being chosen for Israel.
I Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. [Emphasis added]
It is the heart of man that is to be filled with the teachings of God’s Word. It is that which is to be given priority over all the other things of life that have only temporal value.
2 Corinthians 4:16,18
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. [Emphasis added]
Other passages of Scripture tell us this same thing in different words.
I John 2:15-17
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. [Emphasis added]
All these principles should be instilled in one’s home. Today the focus tends to be on getting a good education to make money. The emphasis should be placed on those things that’ll make for the best life.
Life is all about decisions. We are all products of our own decisions and those around us. It is the wisdom of God’s Word that provides a kind of compass to give us direction in all the important things of life. Without it, people are guessing about what’s best. We are warned about trusting in what only seems to be right.
Proverbs 14:12 [repeated in 16:25]
12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. [Emphasis added]
Human judgment simply can’t be trusted. We must let the Scriptures direct us in not only properly training our children, but in all other matters.
The most important decision of all life is regarding this thing called salvation. That needs to be the beginning point for anyone and everyone. As soon as a child begins to put sentences together, the teaching of the Word of God needs to become the centerpiece in their orientation for life. The good news of the gospel message needs to be communicated. We have a God of love who has proven His love for all by providing a Savior for us. That Savior is Jesus Christ. Our children are to be caused to learn all about Him. There’s no one else who can ever mean as much to them.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]
Scripture clearly tells us the way to a life of blessing. That begins with what the Bible calls salvation. That salvation is deliverance from the condemnation of God.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Without faith in Christ and the guidance His Word provides, people live in a form of darkness, not knowing how they should decide about so many things. But God’s Word provides perfect guidance for the things of time and eternity. It not only helps you, but those you can influence. This is especially true of your family. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll begin that journey of learning and applying it today so that you’ll equip yourself to be an honorable person of influence to all those around you. Even in the process of teaching it, you yourself will learn a lot. In the end you can have children who love God as you do, creating a wonderful spiritual legacy.