Parenthood - Joys and Responsibilities
(Psalms 127, Proverbs 19, Luke 15)
Introduction: Last week we studied the responsibilities of children to honor their parents. At the same time, we looked at the responsibilities of parents to lead and encourage their children to obey their parents and God. This week we continue our study of what God has in mind with this whole "having children" thing. Let's jump in and see what lessons we can learn!
- Full Quivers and Full Partners
- Read Psalms 127:1-2. How would you summarize these two verses in one sentence? (The only way to succeed is to make God your partner.)
- Read Psalms 127:3. Is this statement always true? (It is always true that God is the source of life.)
- Is there a relationship between the first two verses of Psalms 127 and this third verse? (Yes. We read the first two verses because they set the context. Sons are a heritage and children a positive reward for those who make God their partner in child-raising.)
- Is this like cooking: you put in the right ingredients and the children turn out just right when they grow up? (A few weeks ago a college official looked at my children and said to me, "You must have done things right." Frankly, I don't think it is like cooking. Our children have free choice. We have an obligation to God and our children to "do things right." However, whether we do things right or wrong does not always govern the outcome. If you doubt that, re-read what happened in the Garden of Eden.)
- Have you seen children who were literally a reward to their parents? (I have - both good and bad. On the dark side of things, I watched as a woman grew up and treated her mother terribly - even when this woman was an adult. Now, this woman's children are doing the same to her. It seems like the proper "reward.")
- Read Psalms 127:4-5. Is this still true today? (Although we do not live in a "warrior" society, your children can certainly defend you and help you in times of need.)
- Must your children be born "in one's youth" for this to be true? (If you wait too long, you might not be around for the reward.)
- The Bible tells us that having a lot of children is a blessing. How many other blessings do you try to avoid?
- What is God's goal in having parents become partners with Him in raising children? (Read Psalms 78:5-7. God wants us to work with Him. By teaching our children a right relationship with God, we encourage the following generations to follow God too. It is these following generations which continue to bless their parents and grandparents with good works.)
- Partnership in Discipline
- Read Proverbs 19:18. How important is it to discipline our children? (It is a life and death matter. Parents must discipline their children.)
- I know some parents absolutely will not spank their children. Our lesson quarterly says (Tuesday) corporal punishment "must be the exception rather than the rule." The newspaper I read this morning said that corporal punishment is illegal in many countries.
- How do you know whether to spank your children?
- In God's wisdom, is there a blanket rule one way or the other?
- Doesn't spanking seem rather tame when considered in the light of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - which we studied last week?
- Read Proverbs 19:25. What does this suggest about God's view of physical discipline for our children? (Have you ever noticed that the people who are the loudest and most strident about what kind of discipline should be applied either have no children or just one child? This text gives us obvious truth - each child is different. One child needs physical discipline (or at least to see it applied to someone else) to "learn prudence," while another child simply needs a "rebuke" to "gain knowledge." "Full-quiver" parents understand this Biblical principle. Our discussion last week about the practical aspects of Deuteronomy 21 applies here. Just knowing that the possibility of corporal punishment exists is a great deterrent to bad behavior. My wife used to tease me about publicly speaking about the merits of corporal punishment when I rarely, if ever, actually applied it to my own children. I am sure that my wife, who is extremely wise about "discipline," would never need to spank a child because she has so many other creative ways to encourage good behavior.)
- Read Proverbs 19:19. What other forms of discipline can wise parent apply? (You need to know when you should rescue your children and when you should just let them suffer. Parents who always defend their children against the discipline of teachers are making a terrible mistake.)
- What is the future for parents who continually rescue their children instead of letting them suffer the natural punishment for their actions? (The "rescue" opportunities will keep happening.)
- Letting the "Arrow" Fly
- Read Luke 15:11-12. What kind of attitude did the second, younger, son have?
- Deuteronomy 21:17 tells us that the first born son received a "double share" of the estate. This means the younger son got (at most) 1/3 of the father's property. How do you think the second son felt about that?
- Can you see a picture here? The second son lives in the shadow of his older brother. He (of course) has less to inherit. It is all a big conspiracy against him and his freedom, right?
- Did the father have to give the young son part of his property at that time?
- What do you think the father predicted would happen with the property he was giving the son? (My bet is this father could predict exactly what his son would do.)
- Read Luke 15:13-16. If the father could reasonably predict this outcome, why did he let the second son go?
- Why "empower" the son to make this choice by giving him his inheritance then?
- Why not wait to give the son his inheritance until he was more mature?
- Is this father disciplining his son?
- The Bible Exposition Commentary quotes Thomas Huxley as saying, "A man's worse difficulties begin when he is able to do just as he likes." Do you agree?
- Read Luke 15:17-21. Why did this son "come to his senses?" (The discipline of circumstances and life was the most important factor. Notice, however, that his positive view of his home and his father was also a part of the son's thinking.)
- This story has a happy, but not perfect, ending. The son's life is harmed for the foreseeable future because he has lost all of his wealth. Would you have done as this father did? (This is obviously a parable. But, I believe that it is played out over and over again in real life. This father allowed circumstances to "discipline" his son instead of personally applying his own discipline. While the age of the child may limit the choices that parents have in discipline, this father had a choice. Frankly, the father was taking a huge risk. The verse 13 "wild living," would today include drug use and the risk of death. It would include sex outside of marriage and the risk of aids. It would include the possibility that the son would die from wild living.)
- Had this father considered that he might be turning his second son over to his death by dividing his estate early? (Read Luke 15:31-32. The father considered the second son "dead." This is a parable about our Father in Heaven instead of a parable about child-rearing. But, I have the feeling that God has shown His hand on how He would handle the "child-rearing" side of this story. At some point, we must let our "arrows" fly.)
- Parents, if you open your hand to let your "arrows" fly into the world, what role remains for you? (Our lesson (Wednesday) says "one of the most important aspects of Christian parenting is never to cease praying for our children.")
- Friend, how about you? If you are a parent, do you take your obligations to your children seriously? Do you try to apply the wisdom of God's word? Finally, after you have done all you can to save your children, do you make them the subject of your earnest prayers?
- Next week: Marriage is Not Out-of-Date.