*July 10 - 16
|SABBATH AFTERNOON July 10|
Read for This Week's Study:
|Ps. 127:3; Prov. 13:24; 23:13, 14; 29:15; Eph. 6:4; Phil. 4:9.|
| "[Sons and daughters] are a heritage from the Lord, children
a reward from Him"
Is it more difficult to be a parent today than it was a few decades ago? Or are people today simply more conscious of the demands of parenthood than they were in the past? Has it become more difficult to find the time to be a good parent? Is it becoming more and more difficult to lead children in the right direction, in this age of television and Internet, than it was when life was less hectic, when we were not bombarded with fast-paced commercials and sentimental soaps?
Also, however ideal the biblical notion of a two-parent family (mother and father) is, the world is not an ideal place; many other types of families exist. But whatever the type, the Bible offers us inspired principles on how to be the best parents possible.
This week we will look at some of the key factors in responsible Christian parenting. The Scriptures convey a clear message: To be a parent is not only meant to be a great joy and honor but also an enormous responsibility.
The Week at a Glance:
|What is expected of a good parent? What does the Bible say about discipline? Who ultimately is responsible for the spiritual decision children make when they get older? How important is our example to our children?|
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 17.
Fruit of the Womb (Ps. 127:3).
The attitude of most people toward starting a family has changed drastically. In the past, people were usually expected to have children fairly soon after marriage. In many cultures, having a child before nine months of married life raises eyebrows or worse. On the other hand, not having children in the first few years after getting married would be a reason for wonder or pity.
Attitudes today have greatly changed. The question for us, as a people who seek to follow the Lord, is What should our attitudes about children be?
Read the following texts. What point do they seem to be making about who does and does not have children? Gen. 29:31; 30:2, 22; 1 Sam. 1:5, 6, 19, 20; 2:21; Luke 1:7, 13-25.
These texts show that God worked miracles in order for these women to conceive. Yet, we must not assume that every barren woman is barren because God has closed her womb. Although there is no question that, when all is said and done, God is the Giver of life, we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions regarding fertility problems. Sin has brought physical damage to all of us, in one form or another. In the end, whatever our situation, we need to trust in the Lord. Those who do have children, however, must realize what an awesome responsibility they have been given.
What does the psalmist have to say on this topic? Ps. 127.3.
In ancient biblical times, as in some cultures today, not being able to have children was often the cause of great shame. Having a son to ensure the family would not die out was of particular value, and having many sons would usually bring enormous prestige. Against this background, the statement of the psalmist that children are "a heritage" or even "a reward" from the Lord becomes extra meaningful. But, in a more general way, the text emphasizes a truth many modern people are inclined to forget: God is the Giver of children. Even today, in an age of sexual enlightenment and fertility treatments, children are a divine inheritance!
|In what ways is having children parallel to the act of Creation as depicted in Genesis 1:26, 27? What should these parallels tell parents about their responsibilities toward their children?|
What Is Expected of a Good Parent? (Deut. 4:9; 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4).
No one ever said that raising children was easy; and all of us know that babies do not come into the world with instruction manuals.
Paul reminded Timothy of the duty we have to provide for our relatives, and that, of course, applies, when we are married, first of all to our partners and, when we have children, also to our offspring (1 Tim. 5:8). We are supposed to know what is good for them and to provide them with these good things (Matt. 7:11). But there is more to Christian parenting than giving children food, clothing, and shelter.
What is to be a key element in the upbringing of children? Deut. 4:9, 6:6, 7; Ps. 78:5-8; Prov. 22:6.
Read Ephesians 6:1-4. What is this telling parents about how they should relate to their children?
Ephesians 6:1-4 looks at the parent-and-child relationship from two perspectives: that of the parent, as well as that of the child. The child has the duty to obey and honor the parent, but the parent cannot treat a child in any manner he or she wants to. Parents must be careful not to discourage their children by continuous criticism and rebuke or by the wrong kind of discipline. Order is essential, but unnecessary regulations and endless petty rules may do more harm than good and may well "embitter" children (Col. 3:21, NIV).
"The parent-child relationship is not one-sided. It is a feature of Paul's treatment of these domestic categories that the stronger have obligations to the weaker. The gospel introduced a fresh element into parental responsibility by insisting that the feelings of the child must be taken into consideration. In a society where the father's authority was absolute, this represented a revolutionary concept."The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1978), vol. 11, p. 81.
|What do you think it means to refrain from provoking your children to wrath? If you are a parent, ask yourself how well or how poorly you have been following Paul's words.|
DisciplineYes, But How? (Prov. 19:18).
"Discipline" can be understood in several ways. Not only is discipline described as training expected to produce a specific characteristic or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement, but also as punishment intended to correct or train. This is surprisingly close to how the Bible describes discipline.
The writer of the proverb has a lot to say about the necessity of timely discipline. In 19:18 he puts it in these strong words: "Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don 't you will ruin his life" (TLB).
Does physical punishment have a role in disciplining a child? Prov. 13:24; 23:13, 14; 29:15.
Many countries have introduced legislation that forbids any corporal punishment in schools. In some countries the law also forbids, or severely restricts, physical punishment of children by their parents. With this in mind, what can we say from a Christian perspective?
First of all, we must not forget that discipline varies from culture to culture, and what is considered appropriate in one culture might not be in another.
Second, we must realize that corporal punishment can easily become a way of releasing the frustration and pent-up anger of the parent or educator rather than a carefully thought-through response to the objectionable attitude or action of a child.
And third, if corporal punishment ever has a place, it must be the exception rather than the rule.
"Whipping may be necessary when other resorts fail, yet [the parents] should not use the rod if it is possible to avoid doing so. . . . Many times you will find that if you will reason with them kindly, they will not need to be whipped. And such method of dealing will lead them to have confidence in you."Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, p. 250.
|How is the way in which God disciplines us as His sons and daughters a model for the disciplining of children by their earthly parents? Heb. 12:6-11. What principles can we learn about disciplining our children from these verses? If you are a parent, ask yourself, Has my corporal punishment been out of anger or out of the principle depicted in Hebrews?|
Young People Must Decide for Themselves
Christian parents are challenged to do everything they can to urge their children to stay close to the "faith of their fathers" and to the church. But who, in the end, are responsible for the choices children make as they get older? Prov. 1:8-15.
The disciples believed religion was something for adults, but Christ wanted the children also to come to Him (Matt. 19:13-15). He took time for them, to talk to them, and to bless them. Christian parents and other adult church members must be intentional in bringing children to Christ and must take away any barriers they can possibly dispose of.
Of course, eventually each person, young or old, must make his or her own decision whether or not to become a follower of the Lord. No undue pressure should ever be applied. Children should not sign up for baptism simply because their parents are eager they do so. But this does not mean children should not be tactfully urged to make a choice. As parents, we should try in our God-given power to make the path as easy as possible for our children to accept the Lord.
Read Matthew 19:16-23. What does it teach about free will regarding salvation? Why must all parents always keep this principle in mind? At the same time, because our children do have free will, what does this tell us about how careful and tactful and loving we must be with our children as we seek to guide them in the right direction?
Being a Role Model (Phil. 4:9, 2 Tim. 1:5).
4:9. What is Paul saying there? What principle do we see in that text
that can be very crucial for parents to be aware of as they seek to guide
their children on the right spiritual path?
It is easy for people, at least in public, to appear as fine Christians. You can fool some of the people, most of the time. However, the people you can't fool, at least for very long, are those in your own family, particularly your children as they grow older. They will see things about you no one else outside your family will see. How important, then, that no matter what we profess, our lives not be lived in contradiction to our profession. This doesn't mean we are perfect; it means only that our children see the sincerity and reality of our Christian walk, which includes our own repentance, our own humility, our own willingness to apologize to them, even when we make mistakes. How we live impacts our children so much more than what we say or profess to believe.
role models did Timothy have in his youth, and how did
these help him to shape his life?
Tim. 1:5. What message is here for us as parents, as
In his book Passing on the Torch, Adventist sociologist Roger L. Dudley makes the following observation: "I like to think of value transmission as a huge smorgasbord where all the tempting dishes of competing values are displayed. Here the youth will eventually get to choose the items that are most appealing to them. And which will they choose? Those that are the most colorful and attractive, most delectable, most tasty! It is not our responsibility to force our values upon our young people. It is our responsibility to model our values so attractively that these young people cannot help seeing that they are vastly superior to the competition, and will freely choose them."(Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1986), p. 117.
|Read from Ellen G. White, Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, pp.
13 1-186; Child Guidance, pp. 169-174.
"Parents may do everything in their power to give their children every privilege and instruction, in order that they may give their hearts to God; yet the children may refuse to walk in the light and, by their evil course, cast unfavorable reflections upon their parents who love them, and whose hearts yearn after their salvation."Child Guidance, p. 173.
"Children imitate their parents; hence great care should be taken to give them correct models. Parents who are kind and polite at home, while at the same time they are firm and decided, will see the same traits manifested in their children. If they are upright, honest, and honorable, their children will be quite likely to resemble them in these particulars. If they reverence and worship God, their children, trained in the same way, will not forget to serve Him also."Page 215.
| Numerous times in the Bible, the Lord is called our Father, and
we are called His children. What do those images teach us about how we, as
parents (either as mother or father) should relate to our children? How does
our heavenly Father relate to us? What can we learn from how He deals with
us regarding how we should deal with our children?
What should a parent do who realizes he or she has been a very poor role model for his or her child? The child is now 18. He or she no longer goes to church and follows a lifestyle that conflicts in many ways with Seventh-day Adventist standards. How can the harm be undone?
|As modern people, we are aware of the biological aspects of conception and childbirth. However, that does not take away from the fact that every child is a gift from God. Receiving children brings joy but also a heavy responsibility. Parenting has to do with teaching and with the transmission of values. Discipline, administered in love, will ever be an important aspect of parenting. But, most significant of all is that parents and other adults involved in the rearing of children live by the faith they profess and make sure they are credible role models.|
|I N S I D E Story|
by J. H. ZACHARY
Stevanus Widjaja is the only Adventist in his family. Although his family is Buddhist, he attended the Adventist university in Indonesia to study English, knowing English would help him in his business plans. As graduation approached, a college professor became concerned that Stevanus had never made a decision for Christ, though he had attended weeks of prayer and classes every day. The professor invited him to give his life to Christ, but Stevanus held back.
The next day the professor was surprised to see Stevanus among the baptismal candidates. During a nightlong struggle, the young man had surrendered to Jesus.
And Stevanus has never turned away from Christ. Today he owns a major importing business in Indonesia and employs 50 people. He committed using God's financial blessings to share his newfound faith with others. He provides the finances for several major evangelistic programs in Indonesia every year and has preached for three evangelistic series. He praises the Lord that more than thirteen hundred persons have come to God during the evangelistic meetings he has sponsored.
During one meeting in the province of Kalimantan (on the island of Borneo), Stevanus sensed the presence and power of God in the hall as he appealed to his audience to accept Jesus as Savior. Suddenly, a little girl shouted, "Mommy, look!" She pointed to the ceiling. Her mother tried to hush her. After the service the child's mother asked her, "Why did you shout during the pastor's call?"
"I saw Jesus, Mommy. He was up there near the ceiling!"
That night Stevanus reported that 49 persons had responded to the call of Christ. "Surely Christ was present that night," he says quietly.
Stevanus continues to preach at two evangelistic series a year, leaving his business in the hands of his employees. "I have experienced the presence of God during these meetings. I must share Jesus with others as often as possible."
J. H. ZACHARY (left) is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour.
|Produced by the General Conference Sabbath
School and Personal Ministries Dept.
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