The Fundamentals of Family and Fatherhood - Ephesians 6:1-4 - Nate Heitzig
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Turning your bibles to Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 1 through 4. As I said before, this message is for the dads today. Don't get too excited. Throughout this series, we've pointed out the breakdown of the American family. And we've really seen in our culture and society-- slowly erode and destroy family values. And the real victims in all of this when families are destroyed is the children. Children are the victims when we fail to practice godly principles within the family. Children are the ones who are hurt.
We think that it's the moms or the dads. But the ones who really suffer in all of it are kids. And we are paying the price for it as a culture. Our children are entering a crisis situation in this day and age. And if there's ever been a time for a godly upbringing, the time is now. It's estimated that half of all high school students will experiment with drugs. And over 12 million teenagers are drug addicts today.
If you doubt that a war exists against your family, consider the following-- today there is enough teenagers that will practice prostitution to support drug addiction that it could fill the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and the average Super Bowl. Over 1.5 million teenage girls will get pregnant out of wedlock this year alone. And almost half of those 650,000 girls will abort those pregnancies. Many teenagers today are opting out of life in record number. Suicides among 15- to 19-year-olds have risen over 400% in the last decade, with over 1,109,965,000 teens attempting suicide each year. To put that into perspective, every 30 seconds in America another teenager attempts to take their own life. And every hour, someone under the age of 25 will succeed at taking their own life.
I want you to consider two of our nation's most serious problems-- crime and teenage pregnancy. According to a study done by LA Times, the most reliable predictor of these behaviors isn't income or race or neighborhood. The most reliable predictor is family structure. Family structure is so important. Practicing family values and practicing proper fatherhood are vitally important to the health and well-being of our children. It's also estimated that pregnant girls and criminal boys tend to come from fatherless families. Now, I say tend. It's not always the case.
But an astonishing 70% of imprisoned US minors have spent at least part of their lives without fathers. Church, there is a real lack of true fatherhood today. There is an attack on the family. And the initial point of that attack is the father. Satan wants to attack fathers because he realizes his best chance at succeeding and causing kids to fall is by attacking the dads. And so he starts at the top. And then he works his way to the bottom. So we need to practice proper fatherhood.
Now, just a word of encouragement because we're going to get into this. I've seen plenty of single moms do an incredible job at raising kids. And so if you're a single mom in here, don't be despaired and feel like, oh, man, I'm a single mom. My kids are bound or destined for a life of crime. Or my kids are bound or destined for this or that. I've seen moms do, unfortunately, a way better job than dads historically at imparting and pouring into their families. And as a matter of fact, moms by and large have taken the mantle in our day and age of spiritual leadership.
And so I want to commend you moms for doing the job that dads have been called to do for a long time. You guys have carried the weight. You guys have carried the mantle that men have refused to carry for a long time. But my belief and the purpose of this message is to challenge dads-- to challenge men-- to pick back up that mantle-- to pick back up that calling that God has burdened you with, that God has called you to carry, that God has called you to spearhead within your family, and that has to be the spiritual leader in your families. And so today, we're going to look at-- the title of our message is The Fundamentals of Family and Fatherhood. It's estimated that one in four fathers are currently living apart from at least one of their children. Fathers are being tempted to divert themselves from their wives and their children by pursuing their own desires-- by feeding their own egos.
Unfortunately, many families, even if they're not a single parent home, it might as well be because the dads aren't present in anything anyways. The dads aren't invested. The dads aren't bought in to the upbringing, to the well-being, to the spiritual leadership of their children. And unfortunately, moms, even in two parent homes, often are forced to do it on their own. Often, it's the pursuit of a career no matter what the cost is to the family. See, we live in such a success-oriented society. And so it's always the next promotion. It's always the next raise that we're striving for-- that we're reaching for.
Now, I want to let you know success isn't bad. Success isn't evil. It's a good desire to want to provide a home and provide needs and provide food for your family. But if you let that good desire become your chief desire, it becomes an idolatrous desire. See, we as human beings are idle factories. And we constantly are putting things on the throne of our heart above the most important thing. So the most important thing should always be God. Number two should be family. Number three should be success in career.
And if we get that out of order, these good desires can become idolatrous desires. Essentially, it's self-orientation. And when this happens, men can lose their focus and sense of God-given responsibility in the home. And unfortunately, many children are treated like excess baggage. And kids pay the price for the ways of their parents. Moms and dads must simply stop thinking of themselves and consider the impact that their actions have on their children.
One author of many books on success in business wrote the following-- he said, we are frequently asked if it's possible to have it all-- to have a full and satisfying personal life and a full and satisfying hardworking professional one. Our answer is no. The price of excellence is time, energy, attention, and focus. At the very same, that energy, attention, and focus could have gone towards enjoying your daughter's hockey game. Excellence is a high-cost item.
Now, I don't agree with that. I think you can be successful in life and business and also be successful at home. I just think it's about prioritizing. It's about putting things in their right place. There was a poll taken by Pew Research. And it says that 63% of fathers say that they spend too little time with their kids. If husbands hold the key to a flourishing marriage, fathers hold the key to a flourishing family. We've already looked at the role that a husband and a wife should play. We've looked at the role that a mom should play.
Now we're looking at the role that a father should play. Fathers have to get actively involved in the leadership at home. As I said before, unfortunately, fathers have failed to do this. And women have had to rise to the occasion. And so again, good on you, moms. Good on you, wives, for rising to that occasion. But it's time that men receive the calling that God has placed upon them to be the leaders in the home. It's time for that to happen.
I read a story about a little boy who one night was frightened. There was a thunderstorm. And there was lightning. And it was loud. And it was scary. And the child called out from his room, Daddy, I need you. Please come. And the dad replied, son, it's OK. God's with you. And he said, I know God's with me. But right now, I need somebody who has skin on.
And that's so true. Kids need the presence of their moms and dads. They need human presence-- human interaction. Without that-- if we just say, well, God will take care of them, we're giving up our duty. We're giving up our responsibility to be there for our kids. And I'll let you know this, if you're not there for your kids, somebody else will be-- a group of people who are going to pour into them things that aren't beneficial, things that are harmful, things that are going to lead them astray. If you're not there for your kids, somebody else will be there for your kids.
And the best thing that you can spend on your children isn't money. The best thing you can give to your kids isn't a private education at the nicest school. The best thing you can give to your kids isn't the newest toys or the latest fashion trends. It's not the newest gaming system. The best thing you can spend on your kids is time-- spending time one on one-- personal time-- investing in them, pouring into them, building into them spiritual truths. Studies conducted with early adolescent students reveal the value of a tight-knit family. Adolescents in a close family unit are the ones most likely to say no to drug use, premarital sex, and anti-social behaviors.
And it doesn't just stop with the bad. They're also the ones most likely to adopt high moral standards, develop the ability to make friends, embrace religious faith, and involve themselves in helping activities. The impact of godly parents is immeasurable. But the adverse is also true. The impact of ungodly parents is also immeasurable. When we say one thing and do another-- when our kids examine our lifestyles and our lifestyles don't match up to what we're saying, it can have detrimental effects on our children.
The fact of this is seen over and over again in Israel's history. The sins of the parents were visited upon the children. And not in some weird generational curse type of way, but rather the simple emulation of what the children observed in the home. They saw their parents doing something. And they began to do that. And then their kids' kids began to do that. And it created a cycle in Israel's history where they slid more and more into sin. And that's happening in our day and age. Children emulate what their parents do. And more often than not, they slip into a greater sense of sin. And we've found that in our society.
But it means that one generation can make a profound difference in the total lifestyle of a nation. It just takes one generation to say, you know what, we're not going to do it the way our parents did it. We're going to do it differently. We're going to change things. We're going to be present. We're going to be active. I'm going to be a spiritual leader in my home.
I'm going to spend active time with my kids. When I get home, I'm not going to sit on the couch. I'm going to take a walk. I'm going to sit around a table and have dinner. I'm going to talk to my kids about spiritual truths. I'm going to invest in my family. I'm going to invest in our future. My legacy that I'm going to leave behind will be my kids, not a paycheck or not a business. My legacy-- the honor that I want to receive-- is kids who love Jesus Christ-- is kids who are called according to his purpose and who are actively living out their calling for the Lord. That is our legacy.
You know, I think of my own generation, the so-called millennials-- I hate that word-- and I think of the legacy of selfishness-- the departure from biblical values that we're leaving behind. I think of this heart and this idea within the culture today to leave behind the old ways-- so let the old ways die and embrace the new ways-- embrace new ideas and new thinking. And I think about how important it is, if there is ever a time for us to return to the biblical standards for raising kids, the time is now. The time is now.
Let's read Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 1 through 4 for what Paul lays out as the fundamentals of family and fatherhood. Ephesians 6, verse 1 says, children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your mother and father, which is the first commandment with promise-- that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and the admonition of the Lord.
Today we're going to unpack those four verses. And we're going to really dive into what obedience and submission looks like for children and how we as parents can help them submit, and then what true fatherhood looks like. Now, some of these principles can be applied to moms. But I'm really speaking to dads today because I really believe that dads need to step up to the plate. So we're going to look at some roles and responsibilities that God has placed on fathers specifically and what our role is supposed to be within the homes. But our first point-- the first thing we see-- is children's responsibility to their parents.
In verse 1, Paul starts out and he deals with the children's responsibility to their parents, which, like the wife's submission, will end up depending a lot on how he is raised. What I mean by that is we know biblically that wives are to submit to their husbands. But husbands can do things to make it easier, right? We already looked at that. We can do things to make it easier or harder. The same is true in parenting. Children are called to be obedient. But we as parents can choose to make it easier for them or harder for them based on what we do.
And so Paul says, children, obey your parents. Now, this word children-- child-- has a lot of different meanings in scripture. In one passage, the word child refers to an infant. In another, it refers to a young boy. In another passage, this word is used of Ishmael in his pre-teen years. It's also used of Joseph when he was 17 years old. And then another describes a young man ready for marriage. So this word child, therefore, speaks of infancy all the way up to young adulthood.
And Paul's call to us is to create a thirst in-- to build into our children from infancy all the way up to adulthood-- the experience and joy of submission. We're called to teach them this. We're called to foster within them the heart and the desire to be obedient. Verse 1 says, children, obey your parents. Now, because in our society, there's a massive breakdown in the home-- there's a breakdown of the family-- disobedience is the result. It's said in 1 Timothy 3, that a sign of the last days is that children would be disobedient to their parents. Now, before you start harping on your kids and saying, well, my kids are really disobedient, so we must be in the last days because they're bad. And I pray the Lord comes home soon for their sake.
Before you go there, understand this, Mom and Dad, a child's obedience starts with the parent's training. Children aren't born obedient. It's not like some kids are born obedient-- really well-behaved kids. And some kids are born as just terrors. That's not how it works. Kids are naturally born disobedient with the desire to talk back, with the desire to steal toys from their siblings, with the desire to get in fights at school, with the desire to do bad things. What makes a child obedient isn't just some, well, some are good. Some are bad. Someone's a good egg. One's a rotten egg.
That's not how it works. What makes children obedient is proper training. A child's obedience starts with your training. So before you harp on how bad your kids are, maybe look at your parenting. Look at the training that you're pouring out because if you're not training your kids right, your kids aren't going to come out right. We as parents can't call for obedience in some areas and not others. Our training has to be consistent or our words will prove meaningless.
Now, what reason does Paul give to kids to be obedient? Well, in verse 3, he continues on. He says in verse 1 and 2, obey your parents. Honor your father and mother. And then verse 3, he says, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. Now, this is important. And it has both an Old Testament meaning and a New Testament meaning, and then a meaning today.
See, in the Old Testament, this promise was given. And it was a very literal promise because in the Old Testament, they had minimal rebellion from children because any stubborn or rebellious child who refused to obey their parents and cursed them and proved to be beyond correction was literally put to death. So in the Old Testament when they said, hey, obey your kids so that you can live a long time, it was very literal. Obey your kids, so you don't get put to death. This is kind of like that, hey, I brought you into this world. I can take you out of this world.
Now, obviously, this isn't a current practice today nor was it a practice in the New Testament. So there's a different meaning we derive from this. And the meaning here isn't to say that obedient kids always enjoy longer lives because after all, we all know that good kids can die young. Rather, it's not some generational curse like we talked about before. But it's the simple emulation of what the children observe and hear in the home. What it is is simple logic. I'm going to lay it out for you. If you tell your kids not to run in the street because there's cars and they're obedient, the likelihood of them getting hit by a car drops drastically.
If you tell your kids not to touch the stove because it's hot and they are obedient, the likelihood of them harming themselves and burning their hand drops drastically. If your kids are obedient and you tell them not to hang out with certain kids, not to get involved in certain groups, not to do certain things, not to have sex before marriage, not to do drugs or to drink alcohol, and they're obedient, the likelihood of them getting an STD or getting pregnant before marriage or getting involved in drugs and becoming addicted or dying of an overdose drops drastically. When kids are obedient and they listen to what there's said, the likelihood of harm befalling them drops drastically. The likelihood of getting involved in the wrong crowd drops drastically.
It's simple logic that Paul is laying out here. Hey, obey your parents, and the likelihood of harm befalling you is much less likely. The general rule is that kids who honor and obey their parents live longer. And I'll say this as well-- this is a promise that is applicable to both Christians and non-Christians. There's a lot of promises in the Bible that apply whether you're a Christian or not. You know, the Bible talks about working diligently with your hands-- being a good worker. Whether you're a Christian or not, if you do that, your likelihood of success increases drastically.
This is one of those things-- whether you're a Christian parent or not, if your kids are obedient, the likelihood of harm befalling them drops drastically. But it is way more beneficial within a Christian home. So in working-- in success-- when we work diligently with our hands-- when we're hard workers-- that automatically increases success. But when we do it based on biblical principles, it increases exponentially. Same with parenting-- whether you're a Christian or not, if your kids are obedient, their likelihood of success increases-- their likelihood of harm decreases. But when you're a Christian parent and you're doing it based on Christian principles and you're not just telling them but you're showing them, the likelihood of their life being good and their life being successful and harm befalling them drastically, drastically decreases.
That's why in verse 1, Paul gives us a caveat. You're supposed to obey your parents always accept in one circumstance. Verse 1, Paul says, children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. The only time when obedience is not required would be if your parent violates God's law and tells you to do the same. If your parent's not a believer and they refuse to read the Bible or go to church and they tell you, you can't go to church and you can't read your Bible, they're telling you to violate God's law. In that circumstance, it's not only provided an out that you'd have to be obedient, but it's encouraged, be obedient to God before you're obedient to your parents. This is why it's so important for us as parents to emulate good works for our kids.
Now, I also want to point out, this is why we get this idea of the sins of the parents being visited upon the children because if our parents aren't walking with God and they emulate that, and then we do the same, the sins of the parents are being visited upon the sins of the children. This is why actions are important because children will pick up on-- they will emulate-- what they see you do. So ask yourself this question-- based on your actions-- because I'm assuming everyone in here-- you're in church, and part of the reason you're in church is because you want your kids to grow up and love God. Part of the reason you're in church is because at least you believe what the Bible says.
But I want you to ask yourself, based on your actions, will your children obey you unto life? Or will your children obey you unto death? If your children do everything that you do, will they obey you unto the Lord? Or will they obey you unto death? Because we as parents are responsible not just for what we say but what we do. Because what we do kids pick up on way more than on what we say. In our day and age, many young people and throughout history get saved and either bring peace or turmoil into their homes. Matthew 10:34 says, think not that I came to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace but a sword, for a son will be set against his father, the daughter against her mother, and a man's foes will be of his own household.
So children should seek to aggressively obey their parents up until the point that obeying them causes them to disobey God. And I want to point out that's the only caveat. So you can't say, well, great, you know, I'm lucky because my parents aren't believers so that means I can be disobedient. I don't have to listen to anything they say. No, even if your parents are unbelievers, you are called to obedience and honor in every area up until the point that it causes you to disobey God. And that is the only out.
Romans 12 says, as much as is possible, live peaceably with all men. That includes your parents. Now, I want to say something to those of you who are adults and your parents aren't walking with God. And you've been estranged from them for a long time. And you don't talk to them. And you've written them out of your life. And you don't want anything to do with them. I want to encourage you, even at your age, you are still called to honor, obey, and esteem your parents. Why? Because it can lead them to the Lord. It can lead them to the Lord.
Proper obedience, proper submission, proper honor can lead them closer to Jesus instead of pushing them away. You can lead your parents to Jesus through your obedience and your submission. I've seen it happen over and over again. I've seen kids that come to Spectrum. They get saved. They give their lives to Jesus. And eventually, over time, their non-believing parents see their actions, see their good works, see the change in how submissive and obedient they are. And they want to know what that church is talking about because why are their kids so good all of a sudden? So the parents will go to church to find out what they've been telling their kids. And they will in turn get saved and give their lives to Jesus.
Obedience and submission is a powerful thing. You know, it's important to note that Paul's words are addressed to children first and then to fathers. He doesn't address parents. He addresses fathers. And one of the reasons why I believe that's true is because fathers are the visible link that children have to their Father in Heaven. And I want to point out that perhaps you as a child had an unaffectionate father. Maybe you had a dad who only told you when you failed. Maybe he rarely if ever told you when you did well.
And so therefore, your entire life, you've sought his approval. It might have caused you to work harder at being successful at everything in life from sports to academics to your career to your boyfriend or your girlfriend to this very present day. And you were so driven to prove yourself when in reality all you wanted was your father's approval. All you wanted was your dad to say, son, I love you. All you wanted to hear was your dad say, honey, you're dad's princess. And there's nothing you could ever do that would change that. And that's all you wanted. That's all you needed. But you never heard it. And so you tried so hard to earn it.
On the other hand, you might have gone the other way, feeling that you were a failure-- feeling that you could never measure up. And so therefore, you basically gave up. I want to warn you to not let these feelings transfer to your relationship in view of God-- thinking that if you failed to read the Bible that day-- that if you failed to pray-- you failed to share Jesus with at least one person, that somehow God doesn't approve of you-- that he's mad at you-- that he's waiting for you to come home, so he can tell you how bad you are and he can discipline you and he can discourage you. And you're so terrified of this relationship with your Heavenly Father because of your relationship with your earthly father.
The fatal flaw in this is that I'm basing my view of God on a faulty foundation. I'm reasoning that God the Heavenly Father is like my earthly father. See, if every father built their foundation upon what the Bible said, they'd be perfect examples and an emulation of Jesus Christ. But guess what? None of us are perfect. Everyone fails. Your father, your mother, you-- we all fail. And so since we're building on faulty foundations, we can't have a perfect view of what Christ-- of what God-- truly is like. Any earthly analogy of God will have its limitations and will break down at some point.
But here's the truth of the matter. And I want you to hear this and not to forget it. To get this could mean revolutionizing your Christian walk if it's been misdirected up to this point. You at this moment where you are as a Christian have God's unconditional love and approval. And there is nothing you can do that can cause that to go away. No matter how far you fall, no matter how far you go, no matter what things in your life you think disqualify you from God's love, when you return to the Lord, He is waiting, not with a rod. He is waiting not with anger and frustration. He is waiting like the Father of the prodigal son with open arms.
There's a seat at the table. He wants to prepare a feast for you. He wants to give you a coat of honor. He wants to hold you in his arms and just tell you I love you-- welcome home. That's God's desire. Even if you're not a believer, you don't have God's approval because you're not walking with God. But if you're not a believer, you need to know you still have God's love. God loves you desperately.
God's only desire is that you would come home. And when you come home, there's not punishment waiting for-- you came home. Now I can hurt you. There's love. There's joy. There's peace. There's patience. So understand that, not because of what you've done, but because of what he's done. You have his love and approval when you are spiritually flourishing and when you are floundering.
The point is that I should never want to live a pleasing life to gain God's approval, but rather, I live a pleasing life because I recognize I already have it. And this is the same for our Heavenly Father. And it should be the same for our earthly father. Look, I do good things not to gain my dad's approval. I do good things because I have my dad's approval. And I want to make him proud. I do good things because when I do those good things, that is a coat of honor for my dad.
That is honor upon him. When you do good things, that is honor to your parents. That makes your parents look good. And so we do good things not to gain our dad's approval but because we have our dad's approval. And if we get this reversed-- if we get this mixed up-- we get the cart before the horse, and we distort this wonderful relationship that our father and our Heavenly Father desire to have with us. So we need to learn to be obedient for the right reasons.
Number two, we see parents' responsibility to their children. Children have a responsibility to their parents. But parents have an even deeper responsibility to their children. As I said, it's noteworthy that Paul addresses fathers in verse 4. And that is because fathers have to take up the biblical mantle and the responsibility for leadership in the home, especially spiritual leadership. James Dobson said that the Western world stands at a great crossroads in its history. It is my opinion that our very survival as a people will depend on the presence or absence of masculine leadership in the home.
But unfortunately, in our day and age, most women are forced to do it. Women are at home with the kids. Women are there. They're the emotional support-- because of that, become the spiritual support. Dads get home. And more often than not, they want to disengage. They want to decompress and not have to worry about kids. And so women have been forced to rise to the occasion. And again, I'm encouraged and I want I to encourage you women who have played that role in your families either by force because there's no husband or male there or because the husband or male in your home is refusing to do that, I want to encourage you and say good job to you for doing that. It's a hard task. And you've carried that weight valiantly.
But I want to tell you men it's time for us to take that back. It's time for us to take that calling, that responsibility, and that God-given leadership that God has called you to fulfill-- it's time for you to take that back. Who reads the books on family living? Women-- 80% of family living books are read by women. Women lead the way in listening to Christian podcasts, praying, attending church, and volunteering. Verse 4, Paul says, fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath. Now, what does this mean? What does it mean to provoke our children to wrath? Well, a few things-- number one, it means that we shouldn't discipline in order to vent our frustration or anger.
And again, this is a problem that dads have more than moms. Moms have it, too. It's easy to get angry. But I find dads have the tendency to be angry people. They have the tendency to carry anger. It's why we have a class here called When Good Men Get Angry. We don't have a class When Good Women Get Angry because by and large, it's an issue that men deal with. And it's easy to get angry and get frustrated and let it build up, and then to vent it and unleash it on the first person you see.
And unfortunately, for our kids, that oftentimes is our kids. And we unleash on them. Colossians 3:21 says, fathers, do not provoke your children lest they be discouraged. That word discouraged literally means have their spirits broken. Do you realize a father's words can either build up the spirit of a child or break the spirit of a child? And this speaks of an ongoing pattern of treatment that builds within your child a deep-seated resentment and hostility.
What are some other ways you can provoke your children? One common way is favoritism. Favoritism can break the spirit of a child. Isaac favored Esau. And Rebecca favored Jacob. And so Esau and Jacob had this big rift that began between them because of favoritism from parents. And it grew so bad that it even became a rift and a separation between Isaac and Rebecca-- between the husband and wife. It drove a wedge into their relationship with repercussions that last to this very day. The Mideast crisis can really be traced back to Jacob and Esau-- to favoritism.
For parents to compare their children with each other, especially within the children's presence, can be devastating to the child who is less talented or favored. That child will tend to become discouraged, resentful, withdrawn, bitter, depressed. Another way to provoke a child is by discouragement. This is a big one. It's a big one, especially for dads to be discouraging to their kids-- to hold their kids to a really high standard, and when their kids don't meet up to it, to barrage them with insults or complaints or you're not good enough. You need to do better. You need to get better.
Children who are never complimented or encouraged by their parents are bound for trouble. You know, the average child by the time they've entered kindergarten has heard the word no over 40,000 times. Now, that's not bad unless they're not hearing yes as well. It's OK to hear the word no. That's not bad. But if that's all they're hearing, there's a problem. If your kids are only told what is wrong with them and never what's right, they will soon lose hope and become convinced they're incapable of doing anything right. If you only tell them what they're not good at instead of finding what they are good at, they're bound for destruction.
Dads, this is to you. We have the tendency to do this, especially with our sons-- even more especially if you have an only son. Look, I really, really know that you want your son to become the next Patrick Mahomes or LeBron James. But maybe they're not good at sports. And that's OK. Just because you didn't make it to the NFL doesn't mean they have to. Don't try to mold them into your image. Don't be discouraging. Don't tell them they need to get better and they need to do this and they need to do that.
Maybe you're spending so time discouraging them that beneath that shell of resentment and discouragement there lies an artist or a musician waiting to flourish. But you've spent so much time focusing on something that God didn't gift them with that you're going to miss what God intended them to be. Your job as a father-- your job as parents-- is to find what God has naturally gifted your kids with-- what God has naturally given to them and to foster that and to help that flourish. Your job as a parent isn't to get your kids passionate about what you're passionate about. It's to become passionate about what your kids are passionate about. That's your job. Find out what your kids are good at. And you become the biggest fan of that in the world.
You become their biggest fan, their biggest encourager, their biggest cheerleader in whatever God has called them into. A child needs approval and encouragement in things that are good every bit as much as they need correction in things that aren't. Verse 4 in another translation says, bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord. If parents don't discipline their children, their children will discipline them. If parents don't punish their children, their children will punish them, and by the way, everyone around them.
Just look at a Thanksgiving meal when you've been there with extended family. Come on, you know what I'm talking about, where there's those extended relatives. And they don't discipline their kids. They don't say no. And those kids are punishing everybody at the dinner table. And you're like, man, if somebody doesn't hit that kid, I'm going to.
They are cruising for a bruising. Somebody needs to tell those kids no. Right? When you don't punish your kids, your kids punish you and everyone around you. And everybody's looking at you like, why don't those parents just discipline their kid? It is so important that children receive proper discipline and proper training. Discipline your kids. But know why you're doing it. And hey, I want to just say I know that disciplining isn't easy. I know that it's hard. And I also know why it's so hard. I want you to take a look at this photo.
That's why discipline is hard because you try spanking that cute little blonde-haired girl. You try telling that little boy that he's a bad kid for doing something when all you want to do is hug him and tell him that he's such a caring, compassionate kid. You try disciplining kids. It's hard because they're cute.
Right? It's hard because they're cute. But guess what? That cuteness left unbridled-- left undisciplined and untrained-- can become vicious really quick. You should see that little girl. That smile when she is really angry at her brother-- that face turns from a smile into-- [GASPING]-- the most scary thing you've ever seen when she's screaming and throwing toys. It's hard to discipline because we love our kids. And we think that by not disciplining them-- by showing them mercy and grace all the time-- that we're loving them. And well, you know what? I love you so much. OK, so I'll let it slide this time. But we get in this habit of doing that with everything. I'll let it slide. I'll let it slide. I'll let it slide, thinking that we're loving them-- not realizing that we're hurting them.
If you love your kids, you're going to discipline them. If you don't love your kids, don't discipline them. And everyone around you will know that you don't really love them because they're going to see their actions. They're going to see their behavior. Part of our problem is understanding why discipline has to be applied in the first place. And the Bible gives us many reasons. But I'm going to point out six or seven of why we should discipline. There's a few verses. I'm going to read them from the message because I think they're a little bit more vivid to understand.
Number one, we discipline our kids because it's not an option. If you love your kids, you will discipline them. Hebrews 12:6 says, it's the child that God loves that he disciplines. And so if we are to emulate our Father in Heaven, it's the child you love that you discipline. Again, it's not an option. If you love your kids, you will discipline them. If you don't love your kids, don't discipline them. Let them do whatever they want. Let them become whatever they want to do. And let them just run around amok and ruin everybody's lives. But if you love your kids, discipline them.
Number two, we discipline our kids to remove foolishness. Proverbs 22:15 says, young people are prone to foolishness and fads. The cure comes through tough-minded discipline. This means that when your daughter walks out of the bedroom dressed to the nines showing too much leg and too much everything else, you tell her to march her butt back in that bedroom and put some clothes on that cover all that up because no one should see that. I don't care how trendy it is. I don't care how fashionable it is. You tell her to be modest because as long as she's living in your home, she lives by your rules.
You tell your son when he comes and tells you, well, Dad, there's this new CD that all my friends are listening to. There's this movie. All my friends at school saw it. And you look into it first. And you find out there's a lot of language or there's nudity. You tell him, no. You can't see that. You can't listen to that because we don't do those kind of things in our home. I don't care how many friends saw it. You don't get to see it.
When your kids want to go to that party, no matter how many of their friends are going to be there, and they tell you, well, if I don't go to this party, I'm going to be the laughing stock at school. And my friends are all going to think that I'm lame. Say, go ahead. Let them think that you're lame. I don't care. I'd rather you be righteous. There's going to be things at that party you shouldn't be doing. And I don't want you around that. Set a standard. Kids are prone to foolishness and fads. Tough-minded discipline is the cure.
Number three, we do it to rescue them from judgment. Proverbs 23:13-14 says, don't be afraid to correct your young ones. A spanking won't kill them. Parents, a spanking's not going to kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death. See, we discipline our kids-- we spank them because that small amount of pain helps them to realize that sin brings pain. And that knowledge will save them from a greater pain than your spanking ever could. So we discipline them to save them from judgment.
Number four, we do it so that they will receive wisdom. Proverbs 29:15 says, wise discipline imparts wisdom. Spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents. Can I get an amen?
Number five, we do it because it brings you joy and rest. You know, I always hear parents complain about how stressful it is being a parent, how hard it is being a parent, how their kids are just awful, and oh, my gosh, I just hate this stage. There's always a stage, too-- terrible twos, terrible fives, terrible teenagers. Basically, they're saying it's all really terrible.
Now, granted, I don't have a teenager yet. So it might be a different message five years from now. But I think biblical truth applies in every area of life. And wise discipline will bring you joy and rest. Proverbs 29:17 says, discipline your children. You'll be glad you did. They'll turn out delightful to live with. And I've seen this with friends of mine who discipline their kids well. I want to brag on a family in the church-- the Shroffs. They have way too many kids, if you ask me.
But what's incredible is all their kids are delightful to be around. Because they've trained-- because they've disciplined well-- their kids are all so well-behaved. They're a delight for anyone to be around, so much so that the parents don't have to push them out of the house. Instead, they want them to stay in the house because they're a pleasure to be with. They bring the parents peace and joy. Your kids, if trained and disciplined right, can be delightful for you and everyone else around you to be with. So discipline your kids.
And then number six, we discipline because it reflects God's character. And it has far-reaching effects. Hebrews 12:10-11 says while we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us-- training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. But later on, it pays off handsomely because it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So we emulate God when we discipline.
Years ago, Dr. Ben Spock taught that spanking wasn't the best way to discipline children, so we have an entire generation that's grown into adulthood with this way of thinking. But look at how this is being passed on to our kids today and look at how it's affected society. What we're doing when we discipline-- when we spank-- is merely following the perfect example of our Father in Heaven. Now, that said, we should always try to combine it with positive initiative. God said in Isaiah 1:19-20, if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat good in the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you'll be devoured by the sword.
There's a positive and a negative. Some parents only have the negative. If you do this, you're getting a spanking. But there's never positive reward. We should develop a system for our kids where if they do good-- if they are obedient-- they get more privilege, they get an allowance, they get things as a positive initiative. And only when they haven't met that standard and they fall and they become disobedient is there a negative consequence. There has to be positive and negative.
And we have to be consistent. Hebrews 13 says, he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Parents, the word no has to have an impact in your home-- has to have an impact. First, give your kids a warning because God always warns us prior to judgment, and then an ultimatum. Discipline them diligently and consistently. Don't slack off when it's not convenient when you're in a restaurant, when you're on vacation, when you're in the car and you just want to get to your destination. If we love our children, we'll take these steps of obedience to the Lord.
In 1959, the Houston Police Department released a leaflet called 12 Rules for Raising Delinquent Children. And they guaranteed that if you practice these 12 things, it will be 99% percent effective in raising bad kids. And some of the things that were in it was to begin with infancy to give the child everything they want. When they pick up bad words, laugh at them. Never give them any spiritual training, but let them wait until they're 21 and then decide for themselves. Avoid using the word wrong because it might develop a serious guilt complex. Pick up everything they leave around, so when they become adults, they'll be experienced at throwing responsibility on everyone else. No, no, we're called to train and to discipline.
Verse 4 gives us another definition of ASV, and it says that we are to nurture them. We're going to close on this thought because nurture means to nourish by example. And children are more affected by what you do than by what you say. This same thought is echoed in Proverbs 22:6 when it says, train up a child in the way that they will go. Nurture them in the way that they would go. And when they're old, they will not depart from it.
Now, this verse has been falsely claimed and understood by many parents. Training up your child doesn't mean bringing them to church. 83% of a child's time is spent at home. 1% is spent at church. So many people cart their children off to church every Sunday. They have them enrolled in Christian schools. They have the scripture drilled into their memories. They send them to Christian camps in the summer. Yet when their kids reach the right age, they take off into sin and rebellion.
Why? Well, I believe it's because the parents aren't setting a tone and an example in the home. And they're not reinforcing or letting the home be the primary place that they learn scriptural truth from and the church be the place that reinforces it. They have it reversed. Parents, we're examples, either good or bad. This is why quality time is so important. It's your show and tell at home.
First, you show them, then you tell them. It's a bad thing to never tell your kids about the Lord. But it's even worse thing to tell them about the Lord, and then blatantly contradict it with your lives. In the process of leading your children to Christ, you as a parent have to first be following Christ. First you have to develop your own fellowship and relationship with God. Nothing can really happen through us until it's happened to us. We can't lead a child any further than we've come. Before we can effectively lead, we must first be led. Before we can impart spiritual values, we have to first receive them.
Don't pawn off your calling and responsibility on the church, on the youth group, on Christian school. Lead not just by word, but by example. Teach them the word naturally and spontaneously. When you come home at night-- I know you're tired-- don't sit on the couch. Go on a walk with your kids. Sit around the dinner table and have a family dinner and talk about spiritual values and principles. Make it spontaneous. Make it natural. Make it constant. Integrate God's truth into your lifestyle.
Andrew Murray said the secret of home rule is self-rule-- first being ourselves-- what we want our children to be. A pastor was assigned to a youth correctional center. And he was asked to find out what made the boys end up in that institution. So he asked the kids what made them end up in the institution and what advice they would have for parents so that other kids don't end up in the institution. And this is what the kids said-- keep cool. Don't fly off the handle. Keep the lid on when things go wrong. Kids need to see how much better things turn out when people keep their tempers under control.
Bug us a little bit. Be strict. Show us who's boss. We need to know we've got strong support under us. When you cave in, we get scared. Don't blow your class. Stay on that pedestal. Don't dance or talk like your kids. You embarrass us. And you look ridiculous.
Light a candle. Show us the way. Tell us that God's not dead or sleeping or on vacation. We need to believe in something bigger and stronger than ourselves. Scare us. If you catch us lying, stealing, or being cruel, get tough. Let us know why what we did was wrong. Impress on us the importance of not repeating that behavior.
When we need punishment, dish it out. But let us know that you still love us, even though we've let you down. It will make us think twice before we make that same move again. Call our bluff. Make it clear you mean what you say. Don't compromise and don't be intimidated by our threats to drop out of school or leave home. Stand up to us, and we'll respect you. Kids don't always want everything they ask for.
Be honest. Tell us the truth, no matter what. And be straight arrowed about everything. We can take it. Lukewarm answers make us uneasy. And we can smell uncertainty from a mile away. And finally, praise us when we deserve it. Give us a few compliments once in a while, and we'll be able to accept criticism a lot easier. The bottom line is we want you to tell us it like it is.
The pastor summed it all up by saying, there has to be positive and negative-- the reward for obedience and the punishment for disobedience. Far better they learn now than later. The cure for crime is not the electric chair. It's the high chair. It's easier to build a child than repair an adult. So church, let's take the responsibility of building children. Let's take the responsibility of focusing on the high chair-- of investing in our kids, of pouring into our kids, of training them and disciplining them correctly. And let us demonstrate it to them by honoring our mothers and fathers-- by honoring our spouses-- so they can learn and desire obedience within their lives.
Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the truth that it reveals. I pray that you'll help us to put these principles into practice and our families will be better for it. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.