Please forgive the rather long adjournment – not the brief recess you were promised by any means! In my defence I was resting – see last post!
Anyway I’m back now so we can continue with our rather haphazard, whistle-stop tour of what God expects of us mums (and indeed what he doesn’t expect of us) and what we can anticipate family life being like.
6. God often works through and in families. They are a God-given dynamic within the church and society. This is not to say that family is the only dynamic. God indeed has no grandchildren and many of his children are ‘not of this flock’; but it is clear from his dealings with Israel (the inheritance of the land, the exhortations to teach the LORD’s commands to their children, to speak of what he has done) as well as the saving of households in the New Testament that he often works through and in families. I can’t claim to understand all the references to this – but they are there e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:14
7. Passing on the good news to future generations can get easily pushed out. Life generally and family life itself can become an idol, and/or a distraction from celebrating the Lord’s goodness and serving him wholeheartedly. In Deuteronomy Moses warns the people of the danger of forgetfullness as they settle into the land and have children and then grandchildren:
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9
8. My primary identity is as a child of God, not as my children’s mother; and as a member of a church my children are not limited to my biological children. In the New Testament many of references to children and family are referring to God’s children and to the church. It may even be that we are called to ‘leave’ our children for the sake of the gospel: Luke 18:29
9. It is right and natural for us to be compassionate and kind to our children though we are evil. The love of parents for their children is a common grace, but as sinners it is also something we need to be taught. Psalm 103:13; Luke 11:11-13; Titus 2:4. Broken relationships between parents and children, children rebelling against their parents point to a serious departure from God’s good ways: Malachi 4:6, Romans 1:30
10. Discipline is a right / natural part of parenthood. Proverbs 13:24; Hebrews 12:11
11. Proverbs also exhorts us to be an example to our children and to teach them wisdom – both in the early father and son chapters, and also in specific proverbs:
“The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.” (Proverbs 20:7) Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
But we need to remember the nature of wisdom literature and not make individual proverbs into golden rules and mathematical equations. They don’t guarantee a certain result from a certain action, but give us a sense of the life lived following God’s good ways. After all Proverbs 30:11 warns us: “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers” !!
12. God knows what it is like to be a parent. He knows both what it is to have rebellious children – us lot; and also what it is to see his Son suffer.
13. We are not to hinder children from coming to Jesus. Luke 18:15-17
14. We are not responsible for our children’s’ eternal destinies. As Ephesians 2 reminds us:
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
BUT GOD: thanks to his great love and mercy God can bring our children from death to life. That job has been taken – so don’t apply for it!
Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ Acts 2: 38-39
We have good news and it is there for our children too. Let’s make sure they hear the promise, but it is for the Lord to call them.
And as an aside: God does not love us mothers because we work hard at our parenting. Not only will the quality of our parenting not factor in our children’s standing before God, but neither will it factor in how God views us. While being a Mum is a huge part of the good works God has prepared for me to do – at least for today – how well or badly I think I am doing those works doesn’t change God’s love for me one jot.
15. A potential pastor’s family does reflect his suitability for ministry. See Paul’s commands to Titus and Timothy.
16. Fathers are commanded to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord and to avoid embittering and exasperating them*. Ephesians 6:2
17. 1 Timothy 5:10 tells us that bringing up children is a good deed!
18. It is appropriate for parents to provide for their children: 2 Corinthians 12:14; and then for children to look after their elderly parents: 1 Timothy 5:4
* I’m wondering if Paul had spent much time with teenage girls – I don’t seem to be able to walk into a room without exasperating my daughter at the moment. Perhaps it is an intentional/thoughtless exasperating we are meant to avoid?
So there we are – far from a complete overview – but I’ll attempt a summation next time! Do let me know of any omissions that need to be included!