Sunday, January 6, 2013

Spoiling the Child

Spoiling the Child


Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” – Luke 2:51-52
It happened at least three years ago if not more in a Captain D’s restaurant, and yet, not knowing who they were, my husband and I still remember the scene.  There was a young mother at the counter trying to order dinner for her and her son.  Her son, at about six years old, came into the dining room and sat down and began to scream at his mother who was in the adjacent room.

“Mom, come on! Mom! MOM! Hurry up!  Hurry up you stupid idiot! I’m tired of talking to you!  MOM! You’d better answer me! Get in here! Hurry up! Bring me my food! You’d better bring me my food!!! GET IN HERE MOM!”
The tirade went on for about five minutes.  A couple of young men sitting nearby tried to talk to the boy to calm him down and tell him he shouldn’t talk to his mom that way.  But he kept on screaming at her, and it got louder and louder, and even more resentful.  Finally the mother appeared from around the corner and quietly motioned for him and said “Come on! Let’s go. We’re not eating here.” and took the boy home to eat their food.  After the scene she allowed her son to throw she was embarrassed to be there for another minute.

A child is a blank slate waiting for parents to mold them.  It is up to the parents to teach elements of character such as self-control, anger control, respect, kindness, submission to authority, clean speech, and so forth.  They don’t pop out of the womb with the information they need as to how to live in peace with God and others.  This is parenting, yet it has been misdefined in our society as just being a provider of food, clothing, and other needs.  The most crucial part of raising a child is teaching them to live in peace with God and man. 
Jesus gives us an example of a child in submission to their parents that’s often over looked because it’s spoken in only 5 words.  In Luke 2, beginning in verse 40, we read that Jesus grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. Every year His parents would make the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast and bring Him with them.  At twelve years old, like all other years, they did the same thing, and then started home with others to Nazareth. 

After travelling for a day, they realized Jesus was not with them or in the company of any of their travelling companions.  They turned and went back to Jerusalem and there, after having travelled now for three days, found Jesus in the temple.  For three days He had been in the temple interrogating the Rabbi’s and giving answers that amazed them. 

You can imagine how worried Mary and Joseph were! Their son was lost from them for three days somewhere between two large cities.  They had no idea if they would ever find Him.  And after three days, they returned to the temple and there He was, safe and sound.  Mary spoke to Jesus and asked “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously. (Luke 2:48)”
Jesus answered her, saying “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But for some reason they didn’t understand His answer.

Then in Luke 2:51 we read that Jesus then went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them”.  The Son of God, having earthly parents, submitted to their authority and became “subject to them”, just as He was subject to His Father God.  Jesus, being the Son of God, the Messiah, had Heavenly authority over Mary and Joseph.  Yet He obeyed Mary and Joseph while on earth to provide us an example.
How important is it that we teach our children to obey and respect us? It must be of high importance in God’s eyes because the commandment to “Honor your Father and Mother” is the only one that comes with a promise of lengthened life.  Deuteronomy 5:16 says Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Obedience and respect bring long life, and blessings while you are here.  What parent would not want to ensure that their child’s life was lengthened by teaching them obedience and respect?

Learning as a child to obey and respect parents teaches submission to authority.  As a child grows, their authority figures change.  A man is to be subject to Christ, and a woman to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). Consider God’s ultimate plan in this chain of command.  By requiring submission of children to their parents, He allows them to learn submission for later in life.  By requiring submission later in life, He allows them to live in obedience to Him, and creates a happy home where their children can also be raised in submission.
In all things, God seeks to Glorify Himself through us, and provide good things for us.  How many of our current societies problems would be solved if we lived in submission as God had planned?  All of them.  God would become the ultimate leader of every church, every husband, every wife, and every child.

In Colossians 3:18-22 God further outlines the chain of command He designed.  Read each verse and you see the role of each person:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Bondservants [employees], obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.”

Paul goes on to write that all of this, regardless of role, should be done “as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”    Your obedience and submission to your parents as a child, your Savior as a man, your husband as a wife, and your employer as an employee are services to Christ, “for you serve the Lord Christ”.  
What we fail to notice about these levels of submission is that they are not a suggestion, but a command from God.  Breaking God’s command is sin, and sin has consequences.  Verse 25 goes on to say “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

What is the punishment for a child who disrespects his parents? Only God knows, who is full of grace and mercy and thankfully, longsuffering.  But if we look back to the laws given to the Jews, Exodus 21:17 says “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. It would appear that God views honoring and obeying your parents as an important command to follow.  And it would appear that any parent who does not teach this to their children only brings failure to their lives.

We’ve often heard “spare the rod and spoil the child”, which is based on Proverbs 13:24, and says that if a parent doesn’t punish their child, they don’t love them.  But after hearing it we have confused “spoil” with over-loving, buying extravagant gifts, and allowing our children benefits above their behavior.  What the word actually means is that by not seeking obedience in our children, we allow them to become rotten, like old fruit, which is no good for anything and stinks up the place in which it is stored.  Oh how that little boy at Captain D’s stank up the place that day!  How sad it is to see one of God’s greatest blessings left to rot!

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