Saturday, May 21, 2011

Proverbs 20:11 commentary

11 ¶ Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

This verse begins with “even” therefore underlining the implication that an adult is known by his actions, as well. “Even a child” is a phrase of comparison. The ancient Romans, I remember reading, believed that you could tell a lot about how a person will be in adulthood by watching them as a child. We tend to judge people first by their appearance, then by their behavior or speech, whichever we have contact with first. We do the same with children. Is he or she well behaved? Are they polite? Is the child neat or sloppy, submissive or a bully? Does the child seem intelligent or dull?

Christian parents will wonder if their child can grasp the concept of what they believe. When a child tells their parents that they are a believer, too, the parent wonders if they are just parroting what they’ve heard or do they really understand? A church family does well when a child comes forward and declares belief to put the child under the special care of the church so that they can be questioned as to whether or not they understand what it is they say they believe. I think this is good and prudent in the age of “easy believism” where the things we say with our mouth may not be reflected in what we actually believe or even understand.

Many people go to work or church meetings or engage in political activity and nod their assent to things they don’t actually believe, just to obtain favor, to get along (ie. please their parents), or to be a part of something; accepted and established in a peer group they have chosen.

What is important to the Christian or should be, is that our actions, and we should encourage our children that their actions, match what is in our hearts. Jesus told His disciples that they should not take oaths and swearing but that they should be so transparent that their no is simply no and yes is yes and understood that way in Matthew 5:33-37.

Children must be nourished and admonished according to the Lord’s way. Letting them be raised by the standards coming out of your radio, television, or DVD player is likely going to produce a train wreck of a life characterized more by twisted metal and escaping steam than the orderly life of a follower of Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Letting your child be influenced by unsaved relatives, even grandparents who may love them, is wickedness and an evil thing to put on a developing child. Unsaved relatives may mock their faith and yours and even mock Christ in their presence. Even believing relatives, if merely carnal Christians, can have a bad influence on your children. For instance, the grandparent who disregards your authority and mockingly gives the child something you have denied them under the principle that ‘it’s a grandparent’s perogative’ to undermine the parents, is a fool and worse and should not have the opportunity to influence the child without your presence. It may be convenient to have that relative babysit for you but you are a lazy and uncaring parent if your convenience is more important than your child’s growth as a Christian.

The same goes for coaches and teachers. This is a problem, particularly for modern Christians in America who send their children to public school. It’s a terrible thing for you to have to undermine the authority of and respect for elders and people in authority by constantly correcting the things they say to your child once your child has come home.

Fundamentalists even, will place their children in a school operated by the church body to which they belong assuming that the teachers will act toward their children in a Biblical manner only to find that they’re being taught misogyny, deception, and brutality; verbal and physical. Many times even, Christian parents will encourage a newly turned eighteen year old, as if that’s a magic number and suddenly you’re an adult with all of your principles firmly established, to join the military where they are influenced to be alcohol drinking, foul mouthed, men and women of the world and not Biblical minded Christians. Folks, when you throw your clean white shirt into a mudhole, the mud doesn’t get clean, the shirt gets dirty. That’s just the facts of life.

With regard to the Proverb, some Christian parents don’t realize this, but their children can often present themselves in a most favorable light to adults, only to be wicked and perverse in their doings with their peer group. Any Godly person who has been a part of a church youth group can attest to the nasty things that can go on at Christian music concerts, retreats, and even at the building where the church meets or at the homes of other Christians who sponsor overnight events.

Every Christian parent, if you believe that being a follower of Christ is not merely a nice philosophy to try to live by when it’s convenient, should from their child’s earliest age, have daily Bible reading, study, and prayer with their family. They should live in front of their children, having prayed for and cultivated in their own attitudes the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 and exercising the faith given to them by God in Ephesians 2:8,9. They should be faithful to meeting with their local church body but not in such a dogmatic way that they force a feverishly, sick child, for instance, to come to meet with the church, teaching them that meeting with the church is a chore they must complete rather than a joy they will look forward to. How that is accomplished will depend much on the parent’s attitude.

Do you enjoy meeting with your church body? Do you love coming together with your church family in praise and worship and to accomplish things as a group that you can’t on your own? Or are you just a Puritan who comes to church because, well, “that’s just what we do”? Most importantly, do you yourself love Christ? If you can’t answer that in an affirmative then how do you expect your child to do so? I’m not talking about just saying it publicly. I’m talking about how do you really feel toward God? Examine yourself.

2Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

When my daughter, Bridget, committed suicide, the note she left behind had a curious line in it that hit me like a ton of bricks. She had stated her belief in and trust in Christ at the age of seven, ten years previously on Sunday, October 7, 1990 and by herself, willingly, to my awe and amazement, had gone forward to tell our Pastor in front of the church, had been questioned as to whether or not she understood the following Saturday by a deacon in our church, Bob Goodwin, and the following Sunday had gone forward to be baptized voluntarily. She wrote for posterity, knowing that probably her family and friends would see this angry and pained note, “I believe in GOD and I love him…. I know and he knows that I love and trust him.” I sat, in such shock I was unable to even cry at that time, staring at the computer screen on which she had left this. I had been a Christian for fourteen years plus some months but I didn’t love God. I had no concept that I was supposed to love God. I didn’t understand how you could love God who had absolute control over the universe but allowed things like this to happen. Worst of all, I had never walked before my children with the love for God and Christ in my heart or on my lips.

So, as her father, my mistakes were for all the marbles. It probably isn’t going to be that way for you. Suicide, fortunately, is a rare event, however, not rare enough, even among Christians. You may think you’re immune and your children are immune but the Devil can twist you into knots if he so chooses and you aren’t grounded in God’s precious and powerful words in His Bible.

2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Your child doesn’t have to go on to harm themselves physically. Your placing of their Christian and secular education and development into adulthood in the hands of the spiritually carnal Christian or even spiritually dead unbeliever can result in unexpected and unwanted children of their own, miserable or broken marriages and divorce, and a lifetime of disappointment, confusion, and poverty. Or, maybe not. Maybe God will bless you in spite of your carelessness. Praise God.

In that case, let me speak to the young person who is hoping to get married and planning on building a family. Don’t look around you for exceptions to God’s way; do right and start now. Don’t look at people who have done well in spite of their careless and clumsy walk with Christ, get closer to Him as we speak. Look at your future child in your own head and imagine what kind of Christian you’d like that child to be and then you be that person first. Read your Bible every day and to a great extent, study it, be constantly in a prayerful state acknowledging the sovereignty of God, and pray for faith and pray for more love for God, your parents, your spouse, siblings, friends, church, community, and nation. Be faithful to meet with your own church body and be supportive of and pray for your Pastor. Practice the presence of Christ. Realize that you have God’s Spirit dwelling in you and He goes where you go and sees what you see and is with you when you do anything.

You’ll have to live in front of your children one day. Live in way that is pleasing to God and that glorifies Him. I believe and have seen, and I think I can promise you, that it will be a wonderful thing to walk hand in hand with your child and Christ together. As has been said, “only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

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