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Awake, O Christian Parents!


In recent past, I have been invited to speak to teens in a Youth Camp. In the middle of my discourse, I asked, “How many of you know the ‘Ten Commandments’ by heart?” There were many teens present but not a single person could raise hand. Almost all these teens have come from Christian homes and some whose parents are active in ministry. I was surprised to witness blank response! After the message, I discussed with the coordinator and expressed my regret to him. I told him and tell you too—we can’t simply blame the children; the reason for lack of understanding of God’s word in present day youth is due to lack of effective Christian parenting at homes.

Growing in the World without Knowing the Word
Today’s young generation in Christian homes is advancing in all kinds of knowledge—celebrity gossip, technology, science, academic subjects, politics, entertainment (movies and music), sports—but with no proper knowledge of the Living God and His word. They are growing in the world without the Word. And I believe Christian parents are mainly responsible for the improper growth of youth in the ways of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

Many parents mistakenly believe it is the responsibility of the pastors or Sunday school teachers to bring up their children in God’s word. It is you, you yourself, you my dear Christian parents, who are primarily responsible! The Holy Bible reveals—parents essentially carry the sacred responsibility of bringing up their children in the ways of God (Deut. 6:4-9; 11;18-19; Pro. 1:8-9; 22:6; Eph. 6:4). Are we faithfully fulfilling this divine commission?

You know there is one sad incident in the Holy Bible. After the death of Joshua, it is written in Judges 2:10, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” How did the new generation grow up in ignorance of God and His word? Because the old generation, their parents, did not educate them in the ways of God. If only we could obey this Scripture:

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. (Ps. 78:4-7)

Why today’s youth is so much ignorant about the knowledge of God? Because of parents’ negligence to bring them up in the fear of God! Too many have cast off that responsibility on the church and washed their hands off their godly responsibility at home. But God is so concerned about the upbringing of children in His ways at our home that He had it written twice in the book of Deuteronomy:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (6:6-7)

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (11:19-19)

What kind of talk do we have at our home, my dear Christian parents? Do we talk about God’s word with our children? Do we discuss about the Lord’s work? Do we teach our children the ways of God? Do we pray for them and also with them? Do we grab opportunities (without being too preachy) to lovingly impress on them the wisdom of God? Many Christian parents are too busy to spare time for such godly things. Regretfully, even there are pastors and preachers, who go around preaching God’s word, have their own homes uneducated and neglected in spiritual values. No wonder we see the new generation coming up without knowing the ways of God.

Spiritual Giants Shaped at Home
I was reading about the great spiritual giant and missionary to China, J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905). I was stunned to read that while he was still a child of four or five, he would tell visitors in the home, “When I am a man, I mean to be a missionary and go to China.” How could he get this understanding? It is because of the godly exposure his parents gave to him. Taylor later confessed that the constant discussion that took place at his home about God’s word and the Lord’s work made a great impression upon him. His parents lived and taught godly values to their children. [1]

F.B. Meyer (1847-1929) is another man who was a great blessing to his generation, not to mention till ours. It is said his home life was not only happy and comfortable, but also spiritual. His mother taught the Holy Bible and his father was an exemplary and dedicated Christian businessman. In the evenings, they had regular family prayers at home. So powerful was the godly impact upon Meyer at his home that while he was still in his teens he had a passion to serve God and began to share God’s word. [2]

How alien today’s young generation has become to the spiritual world! There are spiritual giants in the history of the church who could testify that their homes have been a great blessing to them in knowing God and His word than pulpits. Do our children hear the word of God only from pulpit or even at home?

During the Puritan Movement in the 16th and 17th centuries, every child knew the Ten Commandments and was taught to carefully observe them. Puritan parents reminded their children from an early age that even the greatest worldly learning, acclaim, or success would be worth nothing if one’s heart were fixed on something other than God.[3] Do we find our present generation parents reminding children of this significant fact? O, how many young ones are serving self and success alone for lack of godly teaching at home! Aren't they observing their parents who teach by their priorities and pursuits that money, materialism, luxuries, success, fame are the most important things in life?

It is with sadness I have to say that God is not the centre of many Christian homes. If today's youth has to be revived for God, there need to be revival first in parents. O, how can our young people live a life on fire for God when parents remain lukewarm!They have to witness in their parents that spirituality is not something which is practiced within the confines of church atmosphere; it is something which is lived out in every aspect of life, beginning from home.

Final Words
There are two things I want to mention before I close:

1) I am not saying our children have to become missionaries, pastors or full-time Christian workers through our godly parenting. I believe there is a great need of God’s witnesses in the marketplace than in church. We need to train our children in such a way that whether they do business, job or church ministry, they would live their life loving God, walking in His ways and impacting the people around them for Christ.

2) I am not claiming that if we teach our children God’s ways it is a cast-iron guarantee of their growth in godliness; however, there is a high possibility of that being so. If our children become disobedient, let it be because of their own choice in spite of our thorough godly training but not because of lack of it. May we do our best in training and bringing up our children by utterly depending upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God “who makes things grow” (1Cor. 3:7)!

Finally, may I not hide from you that I feel ashamed for neglecting my own home in godly training for years and give glory to God for convicting me to realize the necessity of ministering to my family. I have learned it is disobedience unto God to ignore to train my children. What profit it is for me to minister to the whole world, yet neglect my family and forfeit them?

So let these words be constantly heard in our home, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Ps 34:11).

___________
Notes:

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, 50 People Every Christian Should Know (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), pg. 134
[2] Ibid., pg. 210
[3] George M. Marsden, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008), pg. 16-17
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