Mention has been made of parenthood in previous articles in the series. It is worth considering some examples in Scripture of parents who showed great wisdom in dealing with their children and in so doing left examples to be followed.
Samuel: Given to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11, 24-28)
Samuels mother, Hannah, was the first woman in Scripture recorded to have vowed a vow (1Sam 1:11). She had no children, but vowed that if the Lord gave her a "man child" she would give him to the Lord to live as a Nazarite, devoted to the Lord, all the days of his life (Num 6:1-21). Hannah understood the spiritual declension that marked Israel and that a leader was required to bring about recovery.
At an agreed time young Samuel was taken to Shiloh where "the house of the Lord" (1Sam 1:24) was situated. What a sacrifice was this for his father and mother, but she raised her song of thanksgiving (2:1-10), and the sacrifice caused Elkanah, her husband, to worship (1:28).
Every year she went to Shiloh bringing "a little coat" for her son (1Sam 2:19). The coat speaks of character and she determined that it would fit his age. There is the danger of parents forcing spiritual growth on the young. A 12-year-old should not be taught to behave as a 40-year-old. Progress should be made; growth should be clear, but in accord with age.
The great need for parents is to pray earnestly that their children will grow to be men and women of God. We are not called to send children to a "temple" but to ensure that godliness is seen in the home. Desires for academic progress and being fitted for employment and careers are important, but godly parents understand that spiritual progress has first priority.
Moses: Preserved from the world (Exodus 2:1-4)
At the time of Moses birth the murderous campaign of Pharaoh towards the Israelites was being vigorously pursued. The first phase was an attempt to destroy them by the rigors of hard labor; the second was to kill the males at birth; the third was to drown them in the Nile. The pattern of this program continues today where there is active opposition to the gospel. Attempts are made to destroy the spiritual life of newly born-again believers and if this does not succeed, an attempt is made to drown them in the river of the world; to overwhelm them by the world that surrounds them and to stifle their new birth.
Moses parents were aware of this and determined that it would not happen to their child. His mother and father were in agreement (Exo 2:2, Acts 7:20, Heb 11:23) on the course of action. They hid him until it was time for him to encounter the world and they prepared him for that world by placing him in the ark of bulrushes.
Godly parents shield their children from the world but also prepare them to meet it. Worldly influences are so intrusive today that great wisdom and restraint are necessary in deciding what is to be in the home. The reading of the Word of God; the good example of attendance at the assembly gatherings; and the prayers of parents are all part of fitting the young for the day when they must make decisions for themselves.
Timothy: Taught from the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Nothing is known of Timothys father, apart from him being a Greek (Acts 16:1) but we do know that his Jewish mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois (2Tim 1:5), were believers who had taught him the Scriptures from a young age (2Tim 3:15). These two godly women must have been saved during Pauls first visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6) or as a consequence of it. Timothy was converted through the work of Paul, who called him "my own son" (1Tim 1:2).
Paul had great affection for Timothy (2Tim 1:4) and the early care of Eunice and Lois had been well-rewarded. Although he was not given to self-promotion he was a godly leader of the saints whose early exposure to the Word of God imparted to him knowledge of Scripture that he developed. Paul saw the good of this: "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned" (2Tim 3:14). He did not deviate from the path that commenced with his early teaching and from what Paul added. The child held in the arms of Eunice and Lois grew to be a man of God capable of leading the saints.
The Prodigal: Welcomed back home (Luke 15:11-32)
Three parables are found in Luke 15. The lost sheep shows the loneliness of, and the danger to, the lost; the lost coin teaches us the value of the lost; the lost son warns us of the poverty of the lost. Many mothers and fathers, who have prayed earnestly for the spiritual development of their children, today have heavy hearts as they weep copious tears for the restoration of one, or some, who have cast aside what they were taught.
What has to be done should they return? What will be their relationship with other sons and daughters who have remained faithful to the Lord? The lessons are first, do not stop praying for them, no matter how long they have been away. Second, should they return with repentance, welcome them in a loving embrace, remembering the father who ran, fell on the prodigals neck, and kissed him. Third, recovery is not impossible.
Assemblies require godly saints and spiritual leadership. Christian parents will ensure that their children are preserved from the world that seeks to destroy them and are taught the Scriptures which they must see practiced in the home. Caring parents lay a good foundation. When that is done the responsibility falls on those who have enjoyed such privilege, to rise to the challenge of being "approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed" (2Tim 2:15).
To be continued.