What we say to our children must convince them of our love and care for them! It must set an example for them of what they say to one another, to others, and back to us. Babies learn to speak by copying the words you speak to them. Children never lose that copying instinct. They will copy your words and your behavior, especially when it conforms to their sinful nature. Words spoken in love and truth will also be copied, but even so our children are born in sin and struggle with a sinful nature. Words of love never appease wrongdoing and disobedience. That is not love! It is what the Bible defines as hate. The word “hate in the ancient Hebrew is also the word for “ignore. When you ignore sin in your children you really hate them, not love them.
It is a great responsibility, is it not? Are we really up to the task? I am convinced that it begins with our having an awe of God. Something must seriously get our attention, and nothing does it better than being awed with the God who is, and who is our God! Second, is the view we have of ourselves, a sinner saved by grace. We are not perfect, even when redeemed. We will sin. And we will sin in our parenting. Third, is the view we have of our children, immortal beings for whom we are stewards; stewards who will have to give account for our parenting of them. Finally, we must consider the promises which God gives to parents concerning the upbringing of their children.
Unfortunately, the reality of this life and the circumstances of each day, do a great job of helping us forget all of the above. We are creatures who are always in great need of reminding and refreshment, else we quickly fall into the miry pit, which David speaks of in the Psalms. John Bunyan calls it, “the slough of despond. And we cannot seem to get ourselves out. Then the words come fast and furious, without thought, off the cuff, and certainly devoid of any awe of God. Unfortunately, once a word is spoken, we cannot reach out and catch it before it reaches the ears, the hearts, and the minds of any in our presence. We can always ask forgiveness. That goes a long way to repairing wounds. But still, sometimes the words are not forgotten.
Thankfully, we are refreshed by promises like that in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! And that is exactly what we as parents must do. We must go to the Lord every morning to refresh our mind in these truths, or else the circumstances of the day will destroy our good intentions. Each day must begin with time in God’s Word, praying for ourselves, our spouses, our children, and restoring our awe of God. Only such devotion will temper our tongue, and aid us in bringing it into captivity to Christ.
Your words to your children must be timely and consistent. Timeliness and consistency requires discipline. Weariness, without the energy from the Holy Spirit to fortify you, is a sure killer of discipline. Children should learn not to interrupt, but they must be heard and listened to with some timeliness. Patience must be taught, but we all know that patience comes only with maturity, so we must not push their patience beyond their years.
What we say to our children must be consistent with the principle that our “yes means “yes, and our “no means “no! When that is not the case, children will quickly understand that your “no does not always mean “no. Then they will figure out how to change your “no to “yes. Crying, whining, temper tantrums, ignoring you, are all methods that children rapidly learn to get their way. If that works for them consistently, they will soon be uncontrollable. When parents do that, they are not expressing love to their child. Rather, giving your child whatever he or she selfishly wants, but does not need, expresses hate.
The Bible promises in Proverbs, “Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. ( Proverbs 22:6) Charles Swindoll once wrote that this speaks to a parent who through careful and prayerful observation figures out the particular “bent of their child; that is, his or her calling, God-given gifts and abilities, to pursue a specific vocation in life. Then the parent encourages that calling and “bent, consistent with the principles of godliness, to the end that when that child is old, he or she will not depart from it. What you say to your child should be an encouragement to live a godly life consistent with how God has made him or her. Do not seek to live out your life and calling through your child, if that is not his or her “bent.
Finally, what you say to your child should not bring you any regret if either you or your child will possibly stand before God in heaven that day. None of us knows “that day. Consequently, we must always keep before our eyes that possibility. What you say is important, vitally important. Words have meaning, and they leave their mark. Speak words that count for eternity in their lives in a good and godly way. Stand in awe of God and remember His compassion. When you fail, go to Him again. He never fails to restore those who consistently seek Him.
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