EULESS, Texas (BP)–Our families are under siege. The battle is raging and casualties arrive with names: Columbine High School, Santana High School and most recently El Cajon High School. Names of children mark the casualties of the war.
What is happening? Why do these things continue? Very simply, enemy number one, Satan, has determined to undermine and explode our families. This is the battle. How do we respond? We look for answers, and the Bible gives us a map to navigate the landmines of the war.
We know that the Bible is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We know that the Word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). In a whirlwind of assault against the family, we find direction from the Bible. We can have strong families; we can parent our children in a way that leads them to godly, healthy lives. How does this happen? We parent by the right book! And that book, as you might have guessed, is the Bible.
The Bible clearly translates the language of parenting to our families. We just need to take the time to read! In 1 Samuel 2-4, we read the narrative about Eli, the priest of Shiloh. Even Eli, a priest, one who is supposed to live his life for the Lord, neglected to set a good example for his own children. We see this fact in the text. By the time he gets around to disciplining his sons, the damage is already done. His sons have no respect for their father and are out of control. Because Eli didn’t live as a positive example, his sons followed a direction that opposed the Lord.
We can learn two valuable lessons from Eli:
1) Parents should consistently lead children to embrace godly values and biblical truth. Eli failed to enforce this basic principle. By the time he hears of his sons’ disobedience to God, he is “very old” (1 Samuel 2:22). In other words, he is completely out of touch with his sons. He has no clue that they live completely apart from God. Parents, let’s learn a lesson at this point: If we want our children to live healthy, godly lives, then we must start as the example! Parents must consistently lead their children to love the Lord. How do we do this? Parents must start early and stay late.
Children need to see the “right” things in order to follow them. So parents, teach your children what the Bible says, and then live it. It is a goldmine of instruction, but without action, we miss the power of the Bible’s truth. Teach children the truth of the Bible: that Jesus loves them as they are, that God is real, that we can know and do right regardless of culture, that the church is good, and that God has a wonderful plan for their lives. Start early with this instruction, and stay late. As parents continue to walk alongside their children through their lives, even when the children grow into adults, the example still stands. Parents who build strong families will lead their children to embrace the values and truth of God and his Word.
2) Parents must correct children in love. The Scripture is clear at this point. Eli neglected his role in correcting his sons. So, by the time he gets around to it, it’s too late. Parents should always correct their children in a timely fashion and in love. Loving correction in a timely fashion for the good of the child strengthens both the child and the family. And children will see the love if their parents have intentionally put the Lord first in the family. Parents must put the Lord above any other event or extra-curricular activity. The love of God is the best example for the children to see. They will respond to parents’ correction if they see that God is first in the family.
These are two simple statements straight out of God’s Word: parents, lead children to embrace godly values and biblical truth and correct in love. Two simple statements, extremely powerful results. The battle is real and the war rages. But our families will see victory when we parent by the right book — the Bible.
Thomas is pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, and chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. Additional resources by Thomas are available at Lifepoints awww.firstonthe.net.