Selected Scriptures | The Goal of Parenting | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings
Please open your Bibles this morning to Deuteronomy, chapter 6. Just giving you a heads up. This is less sermon this morning and more kind of Bible study. We’ll be flipping to a number of places, so are your fingers warm? You ready? Okay. We’ll start in Deuteronomy 6 and we’ll be in a number of other places this morning as well.
Weight loss. Quit smoking. Learn something new. Eat healthier. Get out of debt. Those are the top five New Year’s resolutions from this last year. Goals that we set. Goals are a part of life, right? We have things that we want to achieve. We want to try to get to certain places. Get to a certain status.
Well, if I had to ask you, what is the goal of parenting? The goal of parenting? I wonder how you would answer. To some people the goal of parenting is simply earthly. To maybe have good, well-behaved kids that stop biting and hitting once they get to four and all of a sudden they’re productive members of society. Then you earn enough money to leave them an inheritance. And you got family reunions. And everyone loves each other. And then you all die.
Well, that’s a goal. It’s not a great goal, because this life is a vapor and eternity is real. That’s a goal.
To some, maybe Christians would have a more profound and better answer and may say that your child’s salvation is the goal of parenting. And I would say, no, it’s not, because parents can’t save their children. I would say that salvation for your kids is the hope of parenting. The hope of parenting. But the goal is something that we are to do, we strive for.
So we pray, because the hope of parenting is that our kids would be saved. We pray and we plead and we beg. But we also have certain things the Lord gives us as goals in parenting.
You know, if any parents could ever save their kids, it would have been Adam and Eve. Think of Adam and Eve’s life in Genesis 1 and 2. Perfect communion with the Father. No consequences for any wrongdoing ever. And yet they sinned. And they’re separated from God. Cast out of Eden. Separated from God. Now Adam has to work, not just as a joy and a gift of the Lord. Now he’s got to work for his own food. And now Eve’s going to have children and it’s going to be painful. And now Eve’s going to fight against the leadership of her husband.
Chaos. Sin brought chaos into the world. No longer did trees just flourish forever. Trees would grow and then die. Sickness, pain, death in the human world and in the animal/plant world. A curse was brought on the earth.
So, if there was ever a set of parents that could keep their kids from sin, it would have been Adam and Eve. You can picture Adam sitting there with Cain and Abel on a dead tree stump looking out over the plains trying to tell his kids, don’t sin. Let me tell you what it was like before. Look at all this. See, this tree that we’re sitting on is dead. It wasn’t dead before. See those animals over there. See those coyotes eating that deer. By the way, I named them, just so you know, kids. You see the death and the pain and the barbaric nature of the world? That’s because of sin.
So, if there were ever parents that could stop their kids from sinning and be right with God on their own, it would be Adam and Eve. They couldn’t do it. We can’t do it. That’s why salvation is supernatural.
That’s why when we come here on a Sunday morning, we don’t focus on how great we are. We focus on how great and gracious he is. Because he saved and he redeems this cursed world. One day he will redeem it finally. But there’s little pictures of redemption. Even in a cursed world, there’s little pictures of redemption. What’s a picture of redemption? You, if you’re a Christian. Your heart was dying. God raised it from the dead.
So the goal of parenting is not a child’s salvation. The hope of parenting is a child’s salvation. The goal is to do the things the Lord calls us to do. And so I want to submit that there are three functions of a mother and father which can get to the goal of parenting, that can help achieve the goal of parenting.
What is the goal of parenting? Well, I would surmise, I would assert that the goal of parenting is to introduce a child to God and what God desires. That’s the goal. And we’ll argue that from a number of Scriptures. The goal of parenting is to introduce a child to God—who he is and what he desires—and leave it in his hands to redeem their sweet, little sinful hearts. That’s the goal—to introduce a child to God and what he desires.
There are three functions that I believe we see over and over in Scripture when we look at a father and mother. Three functions of a mother and father which introduce a child to God.
The first one is this: instruction. Instruction. You’re in Deut. 6:6-9, which reads as follows. The Lord, speaking to Israel through Moses, their leader; the Lord speaking to Israel, telling the parents what he desires; specifically, the fathers, what he desires from them.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [This law—these first five books of the Old Testament. Not just on your kitchen table, not just on your shelf as a decoration. These words shall be on your heart.] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
So he’s telling Old Testament Israel and the parents of Old Testament Israel, get this word in your children. And you, parents, shall have them on your hearts. This is a constant speaking of God. Who he is. What he desires. You read the first five books of the Old Testament, which is all that the Israelites had as it’s being revealed to them verbally. This Pentateuch, this first five books to Moses, you’re going to constantly see, as you will in the rest of the Bible, God’s character. God telling his people, this is who I am. This is what I’m like. I’m not like this. I am like this. And he gives them what he desires. The Ten Commandments are in these first five books.
So who God is, what he desires. These words shall be, parents, on your heart, and you shall teach them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the way, when you lie down, when you rise. The question is, when else is there? This should just be constantly coming out. Constantly coming out. God’s telling the people of Israel, when you come home from soccer practice, you’re talking about the things of the Lord. When you’re going to church, when you’re doing all of these things, you’re constantly pointing to the character of God. What he desires, things like that.
Turn to Ephesians 6 in the New Testament. Ephesians, chapter 6. And by the way, if you don’t have a Bible, we have some in the back. And you can keep them, if you don’t have one. But we’d love for everyone to have the word as we’re flipping around. Eph. 6:4, New Testament.
You notice there’s no longer commands to tie the Scriptures on their hands and necessarily paint them over their doorposts. That was a thing given to Old Testament Israel. But the sentiment is still true. What they’re to do is still true. Get the Scriptures, get instruction to your children.
Eph. 6:4: “Fathers [They’re the ones with the responsibility; both mothers and fathers do it, but he addresses the fathers.], do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” So when they do wrong, they have discipline and you also teach them the right way to live. Discipline and instruction of the Lord. The discipline is the correction a child must receive when they do wrong. There will be more on that later.
The instruction—the word instruction here in Eph. 6:4 means to warn, exhort or admonish. Be careful. Don’t do that. There are bad consequences when you disobey like that. Warn, exhort—don’t do that! Admonish—you did that. I’ve warned you. The Lord is saying you need that kind of talk in your home. You do that when your child is little, learning to walk and they get a little too close to the street. You raise your voice a little bit. “Ho- ho- hold on! Billy, stop!” “Billy, look at that fast car coming. You go out there, it hits you. That’s not good.” That’s the sense of the word here.
It’s not just give them facts about things. It’s more of an urgent pleading as you relay those facts to them and how they’re to obey. And just a couple notes now on instruction. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going through these three points. I’m going to show you them from the Scriptures and then I just kind of want to give you some notes, some thoughts on each of these areas from the Scriptures. Just some notes on teaching.
Prov. 4:1-9, you don’t have to turn there now. But Prov. 4:1-9, you’re going to see Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, telling his son not just right and wrong, but telling his son to be a learner of what’s right and wrong. A big part of parenting is not just telling them right and wrong, but telling them you need to search after what’s right and wrong. You need to search after wisdom. I’ll read some of these verses for you. Prov. 4:1-9:
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her [that’s wisdom], and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. [And he’s saying this to sons of fathers, to daughters of fathers.] The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
Part of our parenting is showing kids, you need to ask questions. You need to ask for help. You need to learn, not just learn what the world teaches, not just learn what your school teaches. That’s fine in its place. But more than anything get wisdom from the Lord. Learn how to live.
So, in parenting seek to teach—teachability. When they ask a question, how something works, tell them, good job; you’re asking for help. That’s good, because you want them growing up asking their Creator for help. We want teachable children. Prize teachability.
Next note: Teach to the heart. Teach to the heart. Behavioral change is temporal. Heart change, leading to behavioral change, is long-lasting. So, don’t go there, don’t have those friends, don’t do that. That’s behavioral change and it’s temporal. Okay, my dad said not to have those friends, all right. But what happens when their heart really wants those friends? What happens when their heart longs to be in bad company that corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33)? That’s why you teach to the heart, not just behavioral change.
Remember what our Lord said in Matt. 15:18-19? “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Let me say it this way. Every person ever born is in need of a heart transplant, a new heart. We all need a new heart.
And our children, when they’re born, you see them in the hospital and they’re being taken care of and they’re being comforted and they’re wrapped in a warm blanket and they’ve got all the tests going and the nurse says, in some cases, in many cases, they’re just fine. We as Christian parents go, no, they’ve got a heart problem. And the nurses are thinking, I’ve done everything. Their heart’s just fine. No, no. Believe me, we have a heart problem. Everyone needs a new heart, so we teach to the heart. And we’ll get more to that in the discipline section.
But the good news is that God loves to give new hearts. The people of Israel needed new hearts. In Ezekiel 36, turn there if you can, Ezekiel 36. Here’s the context. They are very good at disobeying the Lord. Yes, they go to the temple and go through all the formal worship, but their hearts are far from the Lord. They go to the temple on the Sabbath and then the other days they enjoy doing what the rest of the world does. And the Lord rebukes that, and that’s what the prophet Ezekiel is there to do, to rebuke the nation of their two-faced living. And notice what the Lord says in Ezek. 36:20-27:
But when they came to the nations [The Lord is always telling Israel, be different from the nations; don’t be swayed by the nations.], wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, “These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.”
So the nations are looking at the nation of Israel, the people of God, and saying, I thought the Lord gave them a land. Why did the Lord judge them and take them out of the land? They’re in Babylon now. They’re being judged because of their unfaithfulness. So nations are kind of mocking God in a sense. This isn’t really real. You don’t really follow this Yahweh they speak of. Look, it’s not going well for them. And the Lord’s saying, it’s not going well for you because you disobeyed, and I’m judging you by taking you out of the land.
Verse 21: God—
But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.
So, audience participation time. Is this painting Israel in a good light or a bad light? A bad light. They have not done what they should have before the Lord. Look at verse 22:
Therefore [God saying to Ezekiel] say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will [Notice the I’s, by the way, in the rest of these verses. Notice the “I will” statements.] vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land [he’ll bring them back]. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will [notice] give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit [that’s his Holy Spirit] within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
That’s the grace of our God right there. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. While we were sick with our sick hearts, he took that out, gave us a new one, and if you’re a Christian and you’ve obeyed the Lord this week, it’s because he says, “I will. I will. I will. I will give you a new heart. I will let you walk in my ways. I will do this.”
This is a prophesy, by the way, that still has not come true for national Israel, but one day it will. But we see the beauty of the Lord’s plan even as you look at Romans 11, how he brings the nations who once led Israel astray, he brings the nations into his family so now the nations are part of his family with new hearts. And Romans 11 says they make Israel jealous so that Israel will one day look on him who they’ve pierced, repent, and have new hearts.
What did we need? New hearts. What do our children need? New hearts. Who’s the only one that can give them? God. Take comfort; by nature he is a heart surgeon. He gives new hearts. He loves to give new hearts.
I spent time there on instruction, because if we don’t depend on him for that miraculous work, we’re going to think, if I just read my Bible to my kids once a week and if I do this, they’re going to grow up and they’re going to be just fine because of what I do. No. There are some parents that read their Bible, talk about the Lord, show their kids the gospel, and their kids are adult and far from the Lord.
It’s not in the parents’ power, but that doesn’t mean the parents say, well, then I don’t need to do what he says. If he’s going to do it anyway, then I don’t need to do what he says. Well, that’s not Christian thinking. We do what he calls us to do. We do instruction for our families. We instruct them in who the Lord is and what he wants. And we instruct to the heart.
Here’s an example from Ted Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Phenomenal book on parenting—Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Ted Tripp. Ted Tripp talks about the classic illustration of two kids fighting for the same toy. And we, in all our parental wisdom, oftentimes say, ask the question, who had it first? Now, what’s the problem with that? The one that had it first, he gets the toy. Done. Behavioral change. Behavioral change.
Both of those children in that moment have a heart problem. The one who watched his brother or sister have the toy and took it from them and caused the fight, his heart—the little thief, the little selfish thief which took something for his own—he treated himself better than his sibling. It’s a heart problem.
But the other boy, other girl had the toy, saw their brother or sister, wanted it, thought more of themselves in that moment, stood on their rights, kept the toy, rather than being like Christ, who would look at his brother and sister and say, here, I want to make you happy. Both are heart problems.
But if we just say, who had it first? All right, give it to him. Done. Let’s go eat. It’s not getting to the heart of either of them. So we teach to the heart. We see the sin that comes out, and instead of just trying to keep peace in the home, we got to do harder work. I’m talking about the heart. So instruction aims at the heart. So I would encourage you parents of kids in the house, teach your children who God is and what he desires, but also teach them that the heart is wicked and their hearts stray.
See, it’s not enough just to say, our family doesn’t do that. We do this. We don’t do that. No, don’t say that. We don’t say that in this family. Behavioral change. Behavioral change. The real question is, son, why do you want to talk like that to your sibling? Why do you want to treat him so poorly with your words? You say you love him, but you treat him as if you hate him. Son, that’s a heart problem. We teach to the heart, not just don’t say that. That doesn’t fix anything long-term. Temporarily, sure. He’s not going to say it for the next five minutes. But he’s going to go around the corner and whisper to his brothers and say the thing you told him not to say, but you didn’t hear it.
The heart change is the long-lasting change. So we point out their heart, but we need to bring the word of God to our families in whatever area that is. If you’ve got a two-year-old, it looks different than if you’ve got a twelve-year-old. But is there a time when you read the Bible with your family, talk about what the Lord wants, talk about who he is? And even in that, we’ve got to be careful to portray him rightly. We can’t teach our kids that God is more like Santa Claus than the God of the Bible. Well, yeah, God is happy and jolly and, you know, don’t be naughty or you’ll get a lump of coal. Be good and he’ll treat you well. That’s not the gospel. The righteous who think they’re righteous don’t get to go to heaven. Christ came to die for sinners. So he’s not like Santa Claus. He’s a judge who is gracious.
We’ve got to teach them the character of God, the God of the Bible, not the god of anybody else’s imagination. Teach them faithfully the God of the Bible. Teach them, as they’re young, Bible stories. As they’re young, teach them Bible stories. As they get older, you can go to the epistles and things like that and teach them more truths—theological truths—as they point back to Christ and what he desires. But teach them stories and teach them stories faithfully. And by the way, teach them stories, and in every Bible story, the main character is God. So, it’s not, son, be like David, because there are sometimes you don’t want your son to be like David. It’s, son, look what God did in David’s life, but David still had sin. But look, God is the one who redeemed David. God is the main character.
Teach them the Bible accurately. Teach them Noah’s Ark and don’t shy away from what that actually teaches. You know, we teach Noah’s Ark and we got the rainbow and the horses smiling as they’re going in the ark and everyone smiling. That was worldwide extinction because of sin. We need to teach it faithfully. Look what sin does. Look how much God hates sin. But look at the fact that God saved a group of people. God is gracious, son, daughter. God slaughtered the world because of sin. Night night. See you in the morning.
We have to teach it accurately. We have to show them the justice of God and the grace of God. You have to show them the full picture of God. Don’t desensitize them. Don’t manipulate the Bible to say what you think is a little easier to digest for your kids. Tell them sin brings pain and hurt and death. When they see that and even see their own heart, they’re going to love and appreciate the Savior even more.
If they think Noah’s Ark and all the other stories are just kind of nice fairytales about how to be good, how to not be bad, they’re not going to have much of a--they’re not going to see Christ as the treasure that he is. But if they see, I’ve got a sin-sick heart. I’ve got—I do some of the same things. I need to have a new heart. I need to have a Savior. And that’s where you say, guess what, the Lord has provided a lamb. The Lord has provided a lamb. It’s his own son, to die for you. And that’s when they treasure Christ.
As they get older and you’re reading the Scriptures with them, show them the wickedness of man and the greatness of God. When you read stories about Pharisees, don’t just talk about how bad the Pharisees were. Say to your teenage daughter, you know, I can have the same spirit in my heart. I can have the same self-righteous attitude. When they see the disciples and the fickleness of their faith, you can tell your teenager, I’m tempted to not always trust in the Lord.
And then you show them things like Jesus saying to Peter, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat, so in a sense you’re in trouble, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And then you tell your teenager, sometimes my faith looks like it’s failing, but Jesus Christ right now is praying for me and he makes me strong.
You show your children an accurate picture of God as you instruct them. Parents of younger kids, make it fun. Sing, wrestle, make it a joy to come to God’s word. It would be unwise to put your three-year-old through a systematic theology lecture when their heart isn’t drawn to how great and wonderful and big God is. Make it big. Act it out. Sing about it.
And just a little tip. It all sounds great right now. But we’re going to go home and do this this week at some point, and they’re going to make some crazy noise and everyone laughs and then you’re like, okay, Bible time’s over. It doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to. Stay faithful. Have fun. They’ll derail the conversation. They’ll disobey at the table. They won’t get all that you’re trying to get them to get, but keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Keep doing it. Because it’s in the Lord’s hands, and he calls us to do it. And watch them start to get a picture of who God is.
So hang in there. Be consistent. Bring your family the Bible, whether you read it at a kitchen table, you read it in their bed, you recite verses. I don’t know. Get them instruction about who God is and what he desires.
Now, secondly, the second function of a mother and father which introduces their child to God is discipline. Instruction. Discipline. As we said earlier, nobody’s born in the neutral state. Everybody’s born needing a heart transplant.
We see the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9), he says this. Don’t listen to love songs for your theology on the heart, because then you’re going to come away thinking, wow, the heart is awesome. The heart is not awesome. Listen to the Bible. Jer. 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” There’s no love songs about that kind of heart, but that’s what the Bible says is true of the heart. It’s deceitful above all things and desperately sick. Who can understand it?
And God in his wisdom, his providence, his created order—God has commanded physical punishment, not child abuse. Those things aren’t even the same, not even close. Physical discipline to demonstrate that sin has painful consequences. What does physical discipline—physical appropriate discipline—do? Prov. 22:15: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” The rod of discipline drives folly away from a child.
Prov. 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” So the rod and reproof—physical appropriate discipline—not only drives folly, but at the same time it drives folly away, it brings wisdom in. That’s a truism from God, from the Proverbs.
Now, there are certainly faulty abuses of physical discipline which are despicable and disgusting. Physical discipline—here’s just a couple notes—physical discipline is not an outlet for your anger for the parenting. If that’s what it’s becoming, stop. Physical discipline is not an outlet for your anger against your child. That is not how God disciplines you. Remember when you came to Christ? No wrath remains for the child of God. Discipline, yes. Wrath, no. No wrath.
Discipline is for a purpose: to teach, to educate. Wrath is meant to punish in a way where your anger can be vented and end on your child. That is completely wrong. Not God-like at all. So when you discipline out of anger, you’re actually not achieving the goal of parenting. You’re not teaching your kids about God. You’re teaching them about what they might think he’s like if they just look at your parenting, but that’s not what he’s like. He’s not an angry, vengeful God on his own children. He is that on the world that rejects him, not on his own children. He’s a loving father.
So when we teach them about God, the discipline cannot be an outlet for our anger, nor can it be an excuse to hit a child whenever we wish. That’s not it. Just go around hitting them. There’s a private, thoughtful discipline. It’s not retribution. We’re not getting our child back for embarrassing us at the store. God is not getting us back when he disciplines us. He’s teaching us to love him and serve him more faithfully because he is good.
So discipline is not retribution. Discipline is not meant to inflict ongoing pain or humility in a child. So discipline that leaves marks, scars is abuse, not Christian discipline. Discipline inflicted in a state of chaos with loud arguing and then strikes coming to the child—completely inappropriate. Completely inappropriate.
Discipline is done in a self-controlled, careful manner. I read a couple weeks ago Hebrews 12. You read Hebrews 12, the discipline section for a believer, and you see the love of the Father permeate that passage. That’s how discipline is done.
Now, there might be some objections. There are traditionally some objections to physical discipline. One objection is this: I can’t hurt my child. I have biblical responses to this. Prov. 23:13-14: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” It is better for us to inflict this much pain for the purpose of correction done out of love than for them to have eternal pain and torment in hell.
Next objection: I love them too much to discipline them like this. The Bible gives an answer. Prov. 13:24 : “Whoever spares the rod [doesn’t use the rod, doesn’t love his son].” “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” That’s not a pastor speaking. That’s the Holy Spirit of God.
Third objection: They’ll grow up angry and rebellious if I discipline them this way. They’ll grow up angry and rebellious. And I will say this: it is true that when children are abused, they often grow up angry and rebellious and will often abuse others. But talk to adult children who were disciplined appropriately with love, with consistency. They often give thanks for that. They give thanks for that.
Prov. 29:17: “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Now that doesn’t promise salvation, but it promises a certain ordered life. So an adult child might not be saved, but with discipline properly administered, consistently administered, lovingly administered, there’s a certain sense of order as the child gets older.
Remember Heb. 12:5-6: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he [hates? he’s mad at?] loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” We’re going to be disciplined because he loves us. As Christians, we want the Lord’s discipline. If we don’t have it, we might be able to sin without any check, doing damage to us and people we love. So bring on the discipline for us when we’re out of line.
This is the time—discipline is the time when the gospel is reinforced. Discipline is the time when there’s physical discipline in that moment with the child where the gospel of Jesus Christ is enforced. So we say things like, I’m not angry with you. I’m trying to teach you there are consequences for what your heart is doing. I’m not angry with you. I forgive you. I forgive you.
I told you last week a phrase that I use often is telling my children, you cannot out-sin my love for you. There are consequences to what you did that hurt because you hurt someone else, but you can never do anything to make me stop loving you. Never. Never. That’s the gospel.
Discipline out of anger and wrath and then walking away—that’s Satanic. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is discipline and showing that grace covers sin.
A few notes on discipline. A few notes. The mom will do this most often in most families, but the dad is responsible, so I would encourage dads when you are home to do the discipline. And I would argue that from Colossians 3 when parents are addressed. And Deuteronomy 6, he addresses the fathers. You are responsible. Yes, the mothers might do more of the parenting if we kind of put the minutes of the day on a graph. The mom might do more of the parenting, but the husband’s responsible.
Another note on discipline. The more faithful and consistent it’s done early, the less you have to do it late. The more faithful and consistent it’s done early, the less you have to do it late. I believe that appropriate, kind, loving, consistent physical discipline should not continue as the children get older and older, but it’s going to be easier to allow that to go away and simple rebukes from a mouth to come when you’ve done the physical discipline early and faithfully and consistently.
Another note on discipline. And this is more kind of for the older kids, but maybe certainly for the younger as well, I guess. In our discipline we communicate to the child that they are responsible for the consequences. I didn’t take away your video games. You took away your video games. I didn’t say you can’t go there. You decided not to go there when you made that decision. So I’m just bringing the consequences that you decided on.
You took away this. No, you took away that. I will give you freedom and trust and opportunity, if you don’t abuse it. I’ll give you privileges, but you’ve got to be responsible. So communicate that in parenting, especially in the teen years.
Next note on discipline. Appeal to their conscience in discipline. It’s not just, don’t do that. We don’t do that. What’s won there? A little bit of time where they won’t do what you just said. Appeal to their conscience.
Ted Tripp gives a story and an illustration of this in Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Ted Tripp is a pastor. He talks about a man in his church that came up to him one Sunday and told him that he saw a child take some money out of the collection plate. And Ted Tripp encouraged that man in the church to go tell the child’s dad, which is the right tack. So he went to tell the child’s dad. And the child’s dad and the child came to Ted Tripp’s office after the service and Tripp tells this story. Listen to this.
A few minutes later the boy and his father asked to see me in my study. The child produced two dollars and said he had taken it from the offering plate. He was in tears, professing his sorrow and asking for forgiveness. I began to speak to him. ‘Charlie, I’m so glad that someone saw what you did. What a wonderful mercy of God that you did not get away with this. God has spared you the hardness of heart that comes when we sin and get away with it. Don’t you see how gracious he has been to you?’ He looked at me in the eye and nodded.
“You know, Charlie,” I continued. “This is why Jesus came. Jesus came because people like you and your father and me have hearts that want to steal. You see, we are so bold and brazen that we would even steal from the offerings that people have given to God, but God had such love for wicked boys and men that he sent his Son to change them from the inside out and make them new people who are givers and not takers.”
At this point, Charlie broke down in sobs and took another twenty dollars from his pocket. He had begun this brief conversation prepared to go through the motions and give back two of the dollars he had taken. Something happened as he heard me speak of the mercy of God to wicked sinners. There was no accusation in my tone. Neither his father nor I knew there was more money.
What happened? Charlie’s conscience was smitten by the gospel. Something in what I said struck a chord that resonated within his young larcenist heart. The gospel hit its mark in his conscience.
Remember in Romans where Paul tells the Romans, the kindness of God leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). When you are shown—first we show them the wickedness of their heart. And then when they feel that guilt—but God came to change your heart and forgive you for what you did, Charlie—that’s when they’re drawn to the Savior.
If we make parenting about, don’t do this; don’t take money out of the plate; Gutierrezes don’t take money out of the plate; got it? Got it. There’s no heart change there, because they’re born with a heart that wants to take the money. But when we show them their heart and show them that God gives a new one as he forgives them, then they look at Christ and go, there’s something special about him. I want to hear from him. I want to learn from him. I need him. That’s gospel-centered parenting. Not just behavioral change. It’s a discipline to the conscience, bringing the conscience under conviction with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So instruction, discipline are things that mothers and fathers do to give their children a right view of God and what he wants.
There’s a third that I see over and over in the Scripture. Instruction, discipline, affection. Affection.
Remember, we’re showing our children a picture of God. What is God like? Ps. 103:13: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” We want to be God-like in our parenting, and a parent—God, the ultimate parent—shows compassion to his children. So the God-like parent doesn’t always frown. There’s some joy and compassion and affection there.
Again, remember Jesus with the children. Lord, these children are in your way. Lord, we got important things to do. Should we get these children out of here? Bring them to me. Do you think there was a gruff, “Hey, little kid, come here, sit on my lap. I’m going to teach these disciples a lesson.” There’s a compassion and an affection there from Christ. Surprise, surprise. He’s God. That’s God for his children. And even what we looked at last week in Col. 3:21: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” God is very concerned about the discouragement of little ones. So does that mean we can parent in a way where we’re not? No, we want to be like God in our parenting.
I had a family in my office in Los Angeles going through some difficult things, and the teenage daughter was there who had made some horrible choices. Sitting there broken. Kind of sitting, kind of slumped over, down, hair down over her face. Mother and father there. The demeanor of the father the whole time was gruff, upset. Now, the daughter had admitted to wrongdoing and was sorry over it. So I asked the daughter to leave for a little bit.
And I asked the mom and dad, I said, when you disciplined her that night and took some things away (actually, she decided to have those things taken away)—when you disciplined her that night, did she understand how bad what she did was? And they said, oh, yeah, she was upset about it. She knew.
And I said, what do you do in the mornings before she goes to school—high school? She’s usually sitting at the table eating breakfast, and we’ll come in, kind of get some food and then we’ll kind of all be in the kitchen and kind of all go on our way. And I asked the father, how did you come into the kitchen that next morning? And this was a man who I knew well and could speak frankly to him, and he’s a great man in many respects. And he said, I came in upset and went to work. And I told my friend, I said, that’s the wrong approach. I said, she was convicted of her sin, which is good. She was given the consequences.
If there’s ever a moment for a strong man to give his teenage daughter a hug and say, honey, I love you, that was the moment, because that’s God. God does that for broken sinners. God judges sinners who make excuses and shake their fist at him. Blessed are those who mourn—and that’s a mourning over who they are—because they will be comforted.
When the child is under conviction of sin and the consequences have been given, that is the time for affection, if you want to be like God. If you want to be like an angry version of yourself, then don’t give affection. You want to be like God, bring the affection.
Luke 15, the parable of the child who blows it all, parties, throws away his father’s hard-earned money, comes back willing to be a slave. The rich, wealthy Jewish first-century father runs to the child who’s dishonored him. All of the father’s neighbors would have been going, what an idiot he is. How humiliating is that? Does he know what his son did? It’s a picture of God the Father coming after a sinner. Running. And the sinner makes the confession, right? The young man made the confession, father, I’ve sinned against you. And the father gives him the best of what he still owns, throws a party for him. And Luke 15 is written as a parable to say that’s what happens when one sinner repents.
So we’re talking about parenting this morning, and I’m going to say in a group this large the statistics are clear that there are probably people here who do not have God as their father and have not submitted to him. Are not followers of Christ. Do not honor the Lord with their life. I’m telling you, if you would turn in repentance, you would see a loving father standing there to reward you forever, and heaven this morning would throw a party.
It’s no coincidence that you’re here this morning, if you’re apart from God. And if you walk out and think, oh, I’ll do it another time or I don’t want to follow Christ, the warning is that judgment comes. And in that moment of judgment, if the Lord judges you for rejecting Christ, you cannot say you never told me. He’ll point you back to right now. His son came to die for your rebellion, to give you his righteousness, and was raised again to show that that sacrifice was valid. Repent of your sin. Do business with the Lord today.
Well, for parents, we show God to our kids when we give them affection. You know I have three boys. Two are cuddlers. One is not. Don’t touch me. When I walk in the home after work, two of my boys run to give me a hug. The other one runs away from me, laughing. And I chase him down to hug him. He’s not a big physical affection guy. You know what happens when he gets hurt? He runs into my arms. When I pick him up, he buries his head and holds onto me tightly.
The reason I give my sons affection is because when they’re 13, 14, 15, 37 years old and they’re hurt, I want them to know that they can come to me. But what’s more than that, I want to show them that they can go to the Father that is infinitely better than I ever am. I blow it all the time. He never does. So when they’re hurt or wounded, I don’t want them going to someone else’s arms, I want them coming to mine, because when they’re hurt and wounded because of what’s going on in their heart and because of their sin, as they get to a certain age in life, I want them to know that they can go to the Father spoken of in Luke 15.
So in parenting, what’s the goal? Show them God’s affection. Show them God’s affection. So, parents, our goal is not to save our kids. Our hope is that they will be converted. Our goal: show them God. Who he is. What he desires. We do that by instruction, discipline, affection.
Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India who never married, never had her own children biologically, a missionary to India, a single lady who became the mother to dozens of children. She would take them out of the Hindu temples where they were treated horribly and she would care for them like her own children. In her Bible she had a little note. It was a picture with some words on it, and it read like this:
These children are dear to Me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly [with affection], be just [disciplined] and kind. If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of my own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are forward [angry, disobedient], call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy Reward.
Those words have a backdrop of a picture, and the picture is a shepherd reaching for a lamb with vultures circling all around. It’s as if the Lord is telling this mother, you depend on me. You receive a largeness of heart from me. You give me all the credit. I will be there as your mother and care for them because they’re precious to me. As if a shepherd is rescuing a lamb from death.
Parenting is showing our children who God is and what he desires. Let’s pray.
Father, we, as parents of young ones, older ones, need that largeness of heart for our kids, need that help, need that encouragement, need the reminder of the rewards that you give. Thank you, Lord, that we’re never alone in this. God, thank you that you forgive us when we don’t parent well. Thank you for that. Thank you for giving us clear instruction on how you want us to be parents. We don’t have to guess at this. We don’t have to buy the world’s wisdom. We’ve got your truth. Thank you for that. Father, for every child represented by every parent in this room, if they are not right with you, give them a new heart, Lord. And if they are, if they have been given that new heart, our children, we pray that you would make them faithful. As you told your people through Ezekiel, do it for your name, your great name. Not just for our children’s eternal future in heaven, but so that you can be glorified in all things, for all time. We pray this all in your name. Amen.
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