Building Your Child’s Character From the Inside Out (Part 1)

 

Who has all the answers?

 

By Don Ruhl

 

Young childless couples observe couples with children and see things they like and do not like. Sometimes the childless couples formulate infallible child-rearing philosophies. Reality sets in when they have children. It proves to be a formidable task. They wrestle with their invincible philosophies and begin to change them. The older the children become the more the parents change their child-rearing perspectives, especially as the children become more independent and influenced by the world.

When the children of these same couples become teenagers and older, those couples often confess that at one time they believed they had all the answers, but now they do not know any of the answers. They think parents can do little to make men and women of God out of their children. In exasperation, they throw up their hands, hoping and praying for the best in their beloved children. Sometimes when their children leave home, those parents become as they were before they had children, they once again have all the answers.

This scenario does not happen with all parents, but it often does. One Christian man expressing his frustration told me that if I ever found anyone who has all the answers to let him know. I gave him an answer and he looked at me with an expression that said, “Of course, you would say that. You’re a preacher.”

Who Has All the Answers? 

Parents Despair as Evil Increases 

Since many parents think they failed with their wisdom-filled and insightful child-rearing theories, they conclude no one has all the answers. What then can they do? Can they imitate Noah who saved his children although evil totally captured his world with his family the only exceptions? Can they imitate the early Christians who saved their children although the Roman Empire far exceeded our generation in evil? All the answers can be found, but that does not mean every child will be saved, because every child has his own mind, even as the parents do. Today’s parents probably rebelled against their own parents.

Make No Claim to Have All the Answers 

When God blesses know-it-alls with children, He teaches the parents humility. The parents often feel defeated and discouraged, but God does not want that, rather He wants humility that they might realize they had gone to the wrong place first. Humility before God is the right place to be. We cannot be know-it-alls, but that does not mean we are without guiding principles to do our best. God does not leave parents alone. The parents did not mature into godly men and women by accident. Nor shall our children, but parents train their children to be men and women of God.

One Has All the Answers

The One who has all the answers revealed them in a book just like all experts do. This book far outsells all other books. Why is that? You know the book. I am not being sarcastic, but I believe with all my heart that the Bible is the only life-instruction manual the Creator of men and women, the Creator of families has ever published.

You know why it far outsells all other books. Can we only read the Bible for child-rearing teaching? No, because the Bible itself tells us to learn from other things. Just as the Bible commands us to go to the ant to learn diligence, so it commands us to learn from wise men and women and so on.

However, be warned! Use the Bible to filter everything you see, hear, and read. This is especially true when reading child-rearing experts.

Who are the child-rearing experts? Go to the bookstore to the child-rearing section. You will find that the young man or woman is an expert because he received a Ph.D., in child psychology. Why can’t I find a book written by a parent or a grandparent whose degree is LTPE (Long Term Parenting Experience)?

Does using the Bible mean if the parents follow God’s guidelines perfectly all their children will turn out to be disciples of Christ? Not anymore than in the work of evangelism. Teaching the perfect gospel with the perfect methodology still results in sinners who not only remain lost, but often become more hardened. The perfect teacher Jesus still lost disciples.

The Scriptures Equip Parents 

It is written, “…evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Ti. 3:13–17).

Evil, as we are currently witnessing, will increase more and more. The abundance of evil overwhelms parents. Parents sense an almost unbeatable situation as they try to steer their children away from evil. In contrast to the ever-increasing evil, there is a safe haven, if only we do our best (which is all God expects) to develop the right character within our children that they might desire to remain in what they have been taught. Someone taught Timothy. Someone taught Timothy the Scriptures! Someone lived the Scriptures before Timothy night and day! Paul had written earlier in the same letter to Timothy, “…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also (2Ti. 1:5).

Back in 3:13–17 the apostle contrasted the growth of evil with the wisdom the Holy Spirit imparted in the Sacred Writings. Paul assured us that if our children learn the wisdom-imparting Scriptures and have been assured of their truthfulness and remember who did the teaching, then the young man or woman entrusted to our care can grow in faith in Christ Jesus.

The God-breathed Scriptures will not only save from evil, but the Scriptures give our children the teaching, the reproof, the correction, and the instruction in righteousness that children need to be complete men and women of God. Our children can be saved, and can be well equipped to do every good work.

The same Scriptures train parents to be complete men and women of God equipped for every good work. Is bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord a good work? Other works may compare, but no other works surpass bringing up children.

Therefore, Paul went on to charge Timothy to keep right on preaching the word. Have you noticed that before? The bold declaration on the God-inspired nature of the Scriptures is immediately followed by this, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2Ti. 4:1–4).

This whole text implies that Timothy had parental instruction, because he had known the Scriptures from his earliest years. Paul made that obvious in Second Timothy 1:5. If we get our children to Bible class every Sunday and Wednesday, and believe that alone will do the trick, we have lost them already.

God and Our Children’s Character 

What does Psalm 127 teach?

Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
(Ps. 127:1–5)

God gives us children. God builds our house. What then happens, if we do not follow His leadership on this matter? All our work will be in vain. Acknowledge God’s gift of our children as Solomon did. If we learn from God how to use our children like arrows in the hand of a warrior, we shall have children like Noah and the early Christians. Solomon wrote Psalm 127, long after Joshua lived, nevertheless, Joshua knew the principles involved when he said, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Js. 24:15).

The godly parents of Samson knew who to consult for building of their son’s character, praying to God, “Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, ‘O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born’” (Jg. 13:8).

Parents, make the same prayer! Those just coming out of childhood (and sometimes still in childhood) become parents. They do not have parental wisdom. To whom shall they turn for the ultimate answers?

Interestingly, Robert Coles, a Harvard child psychiatrist, asked, “Are students really better off with the theories of psychologists than with the hard thoughts of Jeremiah and Jesus? (Reader’s Digest, May, 1987, p. 101).

You Can Do Well 

The word of God assures parents that they can succeed. He gives the needed wisdom. James 1:5 shows what parents must do, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Ja. 1:5).

Psalm 119:98–100 makes a bold declaration for the capabilities of those who follow the teachings of Scripture. Meditate day and night on this Manual for Daily Living God gave you to which the psalmist makes reference,

You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
(Ps. 119:98–100)

The Book of Proverbs 

If any Book in the Bible provides parents with many of the answers for building a child’s character from the inside out, it is Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings on character development. The very thing parents need for their children! Look at how it begins. Listen to these promises.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Pr. 1:1–7)

What Are You Waiting For? 

Start reading through the Bible annually. Start reading Proverbs daily every month, reading the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month. Start asking God, without ceasing, for wisdom. Start asking wise parents for advice.

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