Lesson 4

Living With Lambs

(Psalms 127, Deuteronomy 6, Ezekiel 18)
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Introduction: How do we view children? Do we look upon them as blessings or an expensive nuisance? Before my wife and I had any children, she jokingly told some young parents we were going to have a baby. The reaction of the other couple was most interesting. They seemed to take glee in the fact that we now were entering the same swamp as they were in - we were going to have to face the challenges of raising children! Their reaction did not encourage us to become parents. Let's plunge into our study and see what the Bible says about the blessings and challenges of having children!

  1. The Blessing


    1. Read Psalms 127:3. How does the Bible view the gift of children? Are they a blessing or a curse? (They are a reward. This reminds me of a wife who complained that she was just a "trophy wife" -- to which the husband responded, "What contest in hades did I win?" Unlike the joke about the trophy wife, God tells us that we "win" a wonderful reward in life when we have children.)


      1. When the Bible says that children are a "heritage" from the Lord, what does that mean? (The Hebrew word means "an inheritance," or an "heirloom." They are "from the Lord" in that God's original plan in Eden was that Adam and Eve would bear children. See Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 2:24.)


        1. How are children like an heirloom we inherit? (Heirlooms remind us of the past. Our children remind us of ourselves and our parents.)


    2. Read Psalms 127:4-5. What does it mean that sons are like arrows and it is good to have a "quiver" full of them? (Children help to support the parents. They are supposed to be a buffer against the problems in life and old age.)


      1. Why does the text refer to "sons born in one's youth?" (The sense of the text is fathers and sons working together. If the father is old, he may not be able to work with his sons or may not live to be around.)


    3. My wife is the second of four children. Her parents were poor and after their first child they decided to wait to have another until they could "afford it." Years later a friend said to them, "If you wait to have a child until you can afford it, you will never have another child." My wife's parents accepted the friend's advice, and my wife was born. What do you think about the friend's advice? (The advice turned out to be right - and a fabulous blessing to me. My wife never lacked anything she needed when growing up and her parents ended up paying for her four years of private college.)


      1. Is the friend's advice Biblical? (If you read the quarterly, you will find in Monday's lesson all sorts of "hand-wringing" about being a parent with questions like "What purpose would a child serve?" Do I have the "emotional resources" to have a child? While I have known couples who were lousy parents, the Bible teaches that children are a blessing. How many people say, "I'm not sure I'm qualified to be rich" when they suddenly come into money?)


  2. Parental Responsibility


    1. Instead of asking whether you are worthy of having children, let's ask "What does God require of parents?" Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9.


      1. What economic and philosophical requirements does God set for parenting? (Nothing is said here about economic prerequisites to having children.)


        1. Is there a cultural reason for that? (In an agrarian society, children would be a source of income, not just an expense.)


        2. Read 1 Timothy 5:8. Could this be considered economic advice on having children? (This is the closest I could find to finding a Bible statement about parents having to have a certain amount of money before they could have a child.)


      2. What does God say are the obligations of parents when they have children? (To teach them God's law.)


    2. Read Deuteronomy 11:18-21. What link is their between the quality and length of life and parents fulfilling their obligation to teach obedience to God's law? (Living in Canaan was God's reward to His people. Teaching children obedience to God extends the quality and length of life of both the parents and the children.)


    3. Read Proverbs 19:18. How does this explain the ability of parents to extend the life of their children?


    4. Read 1 Samuel 3:13-14. What obligation does this suggest that parents have towards their children? What did Eli fail to do with regard to his sons?(He failed to restrain them when it came to known sin.)


    5. Read Ephesians 6:4. What other obligation do parents have towards their children? (Not to exasperate them.)


      1. How can we avoid exasperating our children? (The Bible tells us that bringing children up in the training and instruction of God is the path to avoid exasperating your children.)


        1. Have you found that to be true? (Parents get into trouble when they are inconsistent. When parents are inconsistent, children are not sure of the boundary "lines" and therefore they can become exasperated.)


    6. Can children exasperate their parents? How can we avoid that? (Read Proverbs 29:17. By disciplining our children.)


    7. Instead of saying, "Potential parents, you must pass a test of income and motives before you have children," the Bible views children as a gift from God and says "Now that you are parents, teach your children to love and obey God."


  3. Eternal Rewards


    1. Did you notice when we read about Eli and his sons, it seemed that both the parent and the sons were in trouble for the sins of the sons? Read Exodus 20:5-6. What impact can sinning parents have on their children?


      1. What impact can sinning children have on their parents?


    2. Read Ezekiel 18:4. Will a sinful parent cause a righteous child to lose eternal life?


      1. If not, then what is Exodus 20:5-6 speaking about? (The Bible teaches what we can observe: parents pass on to their children good and bad traits. These may present character issues which we need to address in our effort to live a holy life. But, these inherited character traits will not cause us to lose eternal life.)


    3. Will a sinful child cause a righteous parent to lose eternal life? (In Ezekiel 18:5-9 we read about the life of a righteous man. Read Ezekiel 18:9. In Ezekiel 18:10-13 we read that this man has a wicked son and the facts of the life of this son. Read Ezekiel 18:13. In Ezekiel 18:14-18 we read that a grandson is born who lives a righteous life. Read Ezekiel 18:17-18.)


    4. Read Ezekiel 18:19-20. How would you summarize God's thinking? (We may talk about the impact of parents and children on the life of the other, but God teaches that everyone is responsible for his or her own salvation.)


    5. Even though parents cannot cause their children to lose eternal life, can the way a parent raises his children cause the parent to lose eternal life? (Read Matthew 18:5-6 indicates that this is a serious sin. Of course, Jesus came to forgive us of our sins.)


    6. Friend, God desires you to have children. They are a blessing and a reward. God, however, expects you, as the parent, to be very careful in raising your children. Will you take your God-given responsibilities as a parent seriously?


  4. Next week: Disciples Making Disciples.

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