Enjoy these entries - we hope they make you think.
The Fifth CommandmentMonday, April 03, 2023
The first four of the Decalogue (“ten words”) have to do with man’s relationship with God:
- Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
The last five concern man’s relationship with his fellow man:
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house or thy neighbor’s wife...or anything that is thy neighbor’s.
Many call these the “two tables of the Law.” The first table falls under the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6.5). The second table falls under the second greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19.18).
Interestingly, the Fifth Commandment is stated positively, while the rest that follow are negative. Paul also points out it is the first commandment with a promise attached: “That it may be will with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6.2–3).
The first table of the Law begins with God’s authority. The second table begins with authority in family structures. If authority is not recognized and respected, families disintegrate, and if families fall apart so does society. If children do not first learn to obey their parents in their parents’ house, they most likely will not honor their parents after they leave home. If they don’t honor their parents, they will likely not honor the aged. They will tend to exhibit what C. S. Lewis called “generational snobbery,” in which the children think they know more and have more wisdom than their parents and grandparents. They will have a misguided notion that their generation is the wisest of all generations. In truth, they may be the dumbest and most foolish of all.
Worst of all, they will not honor God. Those who put no other gods before Yahweh God also honor their parents, and those who honor their parents also honor Yahweh God.
After honoring God, honoring our parents is critically important. That does not necessarily mean fawning over them and adoring them in overly-emotional ways. It does not mean you necessarily have to like your parents all the time, because sometimes parents are not gracious, kind, or loving towards their children. But you must still honor your father and your mother because they came before you and God saw fit to bring you into existence through them.
Praise God for godly-minded parents who work hard to train their kids and grandkids, who show grace, and who cherish their children.
But whether your parents fit that mold or not, you are called to honor them. Honor them by providing for them in their old age and taking care of their physical needs. Do not speak evil to them or about them. Pray for them. Share the gospel with them in a respectful way.
The Fifth Commandment is a primary foundation for a stable family, church, and society. No wonder God ended His words to Israel in the Old Covenant with this promise:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4.5–6)
Our families need healing! The gospel includes family structures working the way God created them to function. Healthy families is not just a beautiful side consequence of turning back to the Lord—it’s a main mission of families who turn to the Lord.
Do your kids honor you? If not, next ask yourself if you honor your parents. Have you shown your kids what it looks like to honor your parents, or do they hear you griping, mocking, and voicing your displeasure about them?
Do I honor my parents? God promises me that if I honor my parents, I will live long upon the land He gives me!
An Elder's KidsMonday, January 30, 2023
Since an elder’s job is to care for the household of God, it is important he first show himself to be a good manager in his home, which means he must have a home to manage. An elder should not be a single man who has had no children. He should have a wife (he must be a one-woman-man) and should have demonstrated an ability to keep his children in submission and manage them well.
Paul wrote to Timothy: “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim 3.4–5 ESV).
The phrase “with all dignity” gives us an interesting picture, doesn’t it? The sweet lady who runs our homeschool group recently said she always takes prospective families to the park to interview them before she decides if she will accept them onto her campus. At the park, she watches how the kids interact with their parents and with each other, and she reasons that if they are wild and disobedient at the park, they will probably be that way on campus, too. Likewise, if they are sweet and obedient, she can probably expect that behavior. If we were to visit a man’s home and find his children do not respect him and are rowdy and rambunctious, it reveals how he has managed his home.
Paul told Titus an elder should have “faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination” (Tit. 1.6 NKJV). The word for “faithful” here is the Greek term pista, which is an adjective translated several ways in the New Testament. It is most often translated “faithful” or “trustworthy,” though it does, at times, refer to someone who is faithful in the sense of being a believer in Christ. For several reasons, I believe the proper understanding here is that the children are “faithful” in the sense of being “trustworthy,” and Paul further defined what he meant: a faithful child is one who is “not accused of dissipation or insubordination.”
Paul goes on, in his next sentence, to say, “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God…” If a man has children who party, drink, carouse, act out sexually, etc., they blemish their father’s name. You can think of some of our public servants in offices all the way up the President whose children mar the family name. If a man’s children are causing problems in the community, it’s harder to consider the man blameless—not that he has necessarily committed any sin, but it seems evident that he has left some things undone in his family.
Our society is different than Paul’s. Our children often not only leave home but also the area. As an example, my dad lives and worships with a church in north Alabama. His three sons have never lived in that area since we left home. If one of his adult sons causes trouble in a different city and a different state, it may or may not reflect on him. That would be something the church would need to consider if they were deciding whether to appoint him an elder. If the adult son were in the same town and the community knew him and his father, his immorality and the trouble he caused would probably reflect on the father.
If a man still has children in his home, it is easier to determine how he manages his home, the relationship he has with his children, how he guides and interacts with them. But if all the children have left home, many in the church may not even know who his children are. How should we examine this man? God expects us to use good judgment, so we might ask some questions. Has he raised kids? How does he think he did? What does his wife think? Do his kids love him or hate him now; what kind of relationship does he maintain with his adult children? Would any of his kids cause their father’s name (and thus the name of Christ) to be blemished in this church and community? Would anyone have just cause to say he cannot be considered blameless in this matter?
Having faithful children is an important qualification for a man who would be an elder in God’s church. However, it is but one qualification among many. We should look at the overall character of the man and use wisdom and sound judgment with the full direction of God’s word. And pray for wisdom! May God be glorified.
Fathers, Teach Your ChildrenMonday, October 24, 2022
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
God chose Abraham for a specific purpose: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18.19)
When David returned from successfully bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 6.19-20 says, “Then all the people departed, each to his house. And David returned to bless his household.”
Solomon writes of the relationship between fathers and children in many of his Proverbs:
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1.8-9)
And now, O sons, listen to me:
blessed are those who keep my ways. (Proverbs 8.32)
Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13.24)
Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19.18)
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29.17)
Does the burden of bringing up children in the Lord fall only to fathers? No, mothers also do this excellent work. Moses spoke to the people of Israel, men and women, when he said, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…” (Deuteronomy 4.9). “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6.6-7). Timothy’s mother and grandmother worked hard to teach him the Scriptures through his boyhood years (2 Timothy 1.5; 3.15).
But Fathers are primarily tasked with teaching their children about God and His paths of righteousness.
We should be thinking generations down the line. What will my great-grandchildren be taught? Will my influence continue to the next generation…and even beyond? What a sweet thought, that grandchildren I don’t even know may one day bless the Lord’s name and fight in His kingdom.
Fathers, let us command our children to keep the ways of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice. Many fathers today act as curses to their families. Let us return to our homes to bless our families by leading them in paths of light and guiding with godly wisdom and instruction.
To the work!