What makes a child go â€˜badâ€™ or â€˜goodâ€™? First, letâ€™s keep the definitions of â€˜goodâ€™ and â€˜badâ€™ simple.
good â€“ excellent, high moral life, superior,
bad – awful, horrific, shocking, poor moral life
Second, I am not setting myself as The Judge. I am also not claiming to have all the answers. My children are all grown now. I am greatly blessed that they love the Lord and are seeking to live their lives pleasing to Him. And I give ALL the glory to God for that. My devotion or time with you today is about what we can learn from God re: raising our children.
So, whatâ€™s makes a child choose a poor moral path vs. a high moral path?
Moses exhorts us to teach Godâ€™s laws to our children and their children. (Deuteronomy 4:9) We are not to just assume that our children will learn things if we send them to Sunday School. We are to teach them. We cannot teach what we do not know for ourselves. We can tell them but to teach means we have an understanding and knowledge of the subject. They learn and believe when they sense that we believe and live what we teach.
Proverbs says we are to train a child to go in Jesusâ€™ path.(Proverbs 22:6) If I may be so indelicate, itâ€™s like potty training. It takes more than one day to accomplish the goal and it takes repetitive encouragement and patience to get the child to do what you want him/her to do! The child will make mistakes and refuse to take time away from their play to go do the task and we as the parents have to stay with the plan and train them to do the â€˜rightâ€™ task!
Proverbs also speaks about discipline. (Proverbs 22:15, 23:13, 29:15) The NIV and many other translations state discipline and include the word â€˜rodâ€™. That brings up images of abuse when I read the verses and see a â€˜rodâ€™. I believe there is a very clear line between discipline and abuse. I believe the line is defined by anger. When discipline comes from a parent and anger is the controlling emotion, not wisdom or love that a child would learn to avoid poor decisions, then anger = abuse. God wants to show us how to discipline. So when a child has brought up anger inside of us (pushed our buttons!), then let us take time and go to God. Tell the child, â€œI am angry right now and I need to go talk to God. Go to your room and I will call you back in a few minutes.â€ How â€˜coolâ€™ is it to know that Mom and Dad talk to God? Seriously, taking time to calm down and ask God for His input and His wisdom is very good!
And then Paul gives us two words of what we should not do. We should not exasperate or embitter our children. (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21) We are not to make our children feel that they can never do good enough to gain our praise. Once again, we turn to God and se how He treats us, His children. God encourages us every day, doesnâ€™t He? But like our own children, we donâ€™t always hear Him! We need time with God every day to talk with Him and listen to Him. And so it is with our children. We canâ€™t encourage them in an off-hand way, as we are going out the door or as they fly out the door to the next event. We must spend time together and intentionally talk and listen to each other. Priorities! Discipline is important and we learn from our own experienceâ€”good and badâ€”what God must first correct in us before we correct our children.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
It is important that we see in the midst of this love chapter that it is love that is the key ingredient to moving Godâ€™s child from child to adult. Whether it is teaching, discipline, or training, it is love that brings up a child and keeps the child in the way that Jesus would have them to go.