The Nurture and Admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4)
In a society that is increasingly moving away from God’s truth, the job of parenting could not be more important. More and more children are being drawn away from doing the Lord’s will by friends at school, family members unfaithful to the Lord, and the general secularization of the culture around us. The most important influence within a child’s life is his parents. Godly parents must resolve that they are going to do whatever it takes to fulfill their New Testament obligation to raise their children in the Lord’s nurture and admonition.
The process is two-fold. On the one hand, we must nurture our children. From a physical standpoint, this involves providing for them food, shelter, clothing, and an education in how to provide for oneself the physical necessities of our society. From a spiritual standpoint, this involves engendering within the child a recognition of his responsibilities toward himself and his eternal estate, his relationship with his fellow man, and most importantly, his relationship toward his God. Looking at these tasks from the 100,000 foot level emphasizes how great a job this really is. It is good that such things may be accomplished over a period of time (our society provides a period of eighteen years). Nevertheless, the time is not as much as we realize, and every moment counts. We must make the most of these moments and redeem the time in relationship to nurturing our children (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5).
Nurturing our children is largely a product of attitude. Love seeks not its own (1 Cor.13:5), and when one has a child, one begins to realize what this means. When a child arrives, the time and resources of the parents become centered around that child. An adult’s personal activities must give way to the nurturing of the child. Parents who truly nurture their children do not seek to impose upon them the fulfillment of their own personal goals and objectives, or make their children mere objects of their selfish pleasures. Children are individuals created in the image of God with their own personal intrinsic value and decision-making abilities. The goal of parenting is to create within the child a sense of enablement that is constrained by the responsibilities the child owes to God, others, and himself. This can only be achieved through personal dedication and commitment to the child as one practices self-sacrifice in relationship to his personal desires. In so doing, however, something remarkable happens. The parents grow and develop spiritually to become more like God. The act of nurturing another actually provides spiritual nurturing for the self.
Children also need admonition. Proverbs 22:15 declares, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Children are not born with specific and innate knowledge of right and wrong. They must be taught. When left to their own devices, children will make wrong, hurtful, and selfish choices. When they do so, they must be admonished according to God’s word. The goal of admonishment is the personal and moral development of the child. Children must learn to obey the law and be good citizens. To do so, they must respect authority, and respect for authority is taught first at home. Admonition may be both verbal and corporeal, and should not be abusive, but correcting. Parents need not be concerned with the accusation of hypocrisy when it comes to correcting children; they have a mandate from God to employ the means necessary for such correction, provided the end is correction and not self-gratification of improper emotion.
This issue of the Christian Worker seeks to explore various biblical thoughts related to parenting. As Christians, our goal should be to raise children who become Christians. Along the way, we, as parents, will also learn, seek, try, fail, struggle, and cope with the various responsibilities involved. As mentioned in this article, good parenting promotes spiritual development, not only of children, but of parents as well. Bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ultimately benefits the child, the parents, the family unit as a whole, society, and God’s kingdom. May we ever seek to live so as to be good parents to our children.