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Respect for Children

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 4:00 am

Respect for Children

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 28, 2024 4:00 am

You’ve probably heard that “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” While it’s true that many people influence children, the greatest responsibility still lies with parents. So what should be their focus? Find out on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!


You've probably heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child, and while there's certainly truth in that, children are influenced by many people, but the greatest influence ought to come from us as parents.

So what should our focus be within the home? Alistair Begg explores the answer to that question today on Truth for Life. Luke 2 verse 39, when Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth, and the child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the feast according to the custom. After the feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day.

How could this possibly be, you say? Well, this afternoon, after church, I instructed one of my children to get out of the car and go and look for another one of the children. And within the space of sixty seconds, I then drove off and left both of them behind. And I was just about to go onto the freeway when I realized, I said, Where's that girl?

And then—so don't let's get smart, you know. I hear these parents all the time say, I can't believe they left the boy in Jerusalem. What were they thinking of? Well, thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple court, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions.

Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.

Now, think about this for a minute. Jesus might equally well have said, Where in the world did you go? How could you go away for a whole day and not know I was missing and then not be able to find me? But typical parental response, blame it on the kid. How could you possibly do this to your father and I?

Despite the fact they just took off without paying attention. Jesus says, Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my father's house? But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. There are little vignettes in the Gospel of Luke, which Luke records and none of the other synoptic writers do, which actually can only have come from Mary herself. There are kind of little parental insights that Luke must have gleaned from conversations.

And this certainly is one of them. It's one of the few references that we have to this period of time in the developing life of the Lord Jesus. And what I'd like to do is just focus on this fifty-second verse for a moment or two, because in it we have a pattern which is established for us. It says, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with men. The fourfold development of a child. First of all, he grew in mental abilities. He grew in wisdom. Presumably it means here that he grew in practical, spiritual goodness. That he also grew in stature, that physically the boy Jesus began to develop. He grew, we're told, in favor with God. There was that spiritual development of his life.

It doesn't mean that Jesus Christ was morally imperfect and in need of something that was to be added to him in any way, but simply that in this development of his perfect experience, there still was expansion in his relationship with God the Father. And not only did he grow in this mental and physical and spiritual dimension, but also in his social development, he grew in favor with men. Now, in natural terms, we expect that younger brothers and sisters will take on something of the characteristics of their elder brothers.

And Jesus is our elder brother. Romans 8 tells us that, verse 29, and tells us that it is God's plan to make all his children like their elder brother Jesus. And for this reason, the development of Jesus as a boy provides the basic pattern of development for our own children. And therefore, as we think about how well we're doing in rearing children, we have a kind of fourfold test to be taken. How are we doing in the moral development of our children, in the mental development of our children, in the physical development, in their spiritual development, in their socialization? And as parents, we have the responsibility of disciplining our children away from their natural inclinations to sin and training them up by our precepts and by our examples to become all that God intends for them to be.

Now, that isn't to state anything except the obvious. Training is primarily a parental responsibility. In youth ministry, it is not uncommon for parents to phone up to speak to someone concerning their adolescent children, and they want to know, probably from a youth pastor or someone, why their boy or their girl is the way they are. And very often, the response must be, as graciously and as kindly as it can be conveyed, to say to the parents, You know, dear ones, you're going to have to face a fact that your son or your daughter did not emerge to be this individual in a vacuum.

And so we need to talk about the responsibility of the husband and wife and their relationships in order that by their example and by their lifestyle, by their heartfelt relationship with God, they may be able then to instill values in their children which do not pass simply from our heads to their heads, but rather from our hearts to their hearts. And all may not be the way we think it is. In the winds the other afternoon, one of two crab apples at the entrance to our driveway blew down. I've always had a problem with this tree.

I never thought it was right. It never seemed—it had a twin, and the twin seemed to be doing much better, flowered better, grew stronger, the leaves held for longer, and his brother on the left-hand side somehow just didn't match up to the characteristics. But I could never put my hand on what it was. I would go into stores every so often and say, I have this tree, and it has a brother, and, you know, there's a big one and a wee one, and the guy tolerated all that kind of jargon and gave me boxes of stakes which you drove into the ground all around your tree, and these stakes would then juice up the tree, and the tree would grow up and be big and strong and beautiful like his brother on the other side.

I drove those stakes all around them, nothing at all. And the other day it became apparent. The wind blew very strongly, blowing both crab apples with great force, and the boy on the left lay down and died, while the other one remained strong. I couldn't believe it. It snapped right off at ground level.

When I went up to it, I discovered the problem—that it was rotten from the core and had never developed a root structure. There was a measure of growth, and superficially glancing at the two of them, unless you turned your eye upon it keenly, you might just assume that both of them were doing okay. It was just that one was a wee bit ahead of the other. But in actual fact, one was dead, and it was only a matter of time before it became apparent. And tonight, those of us who've been entrusted with children need to recognize that our children are already learning from us whether we think we're teaching them or not. That our children are learning more by our associations, by the way we use our checkbook, by the way we drive our car, by the things we watch on our television when they've gone to bed, by the things we bring home from the video stores if ever we do, by the way we approach worship on a Sunday no matter what we say about it—our children are real smart, real perceptive, and we cannot evade the fact that their responsibility is ours. By and large, the average church will have a child one percent of their time. The home has him or her eighty-three percent of the time, and the school for the remainder. And the sad fact is that we are often trying to do in our churches, on a one percent basis, what we can't accomplish. And we are neglecting the eighty-three percent period when children are exposed to us on a dynamic, interpersonal level.

The home marks the child for life. And failure to understand this will find us scurrying all around, apportioning blame in every department while failing to recognize the privilege and challenge which is given to us. What should we do with these youngsters? Hey, you tell me. Or let the Bible tell us all, hey?

That's the answer. I stand up here and talk about this. I feel like the man I told you about before, who left university with a PhD in psychology, and he began to give a talk on twelve definitive principles for child rearing. I think he called it a failure-proof guide to raising your children. Then he got married and had a child, and changed the talk to twelve pointers for child rearing. And then as the child began to grow, he changed the talk to some generic thoughts on the business of having children.

Eventually, after seven or eight years with three or four children, he was giving a talk on what not to do in parenting. And so I don't want anyone to think tonight that I am suggesting anything that I'm not dealing with myself. I came across an acronym some time ago that I want to use for any of you who care to take notes tonight.

I'm going to give you this and quote a poem, and then we're done. It's an acronym on the word respect. Respect. What should we do with our children in teaching them to be respectful? R. We need to teach them reverence towards God, his truth, and those in authority. E. We need to teach them to be enthusiastic in fulfilling the responsibilities that are given to them. Oh, yes, our children will display the sullen side of their natures in just the same way that we do from time to time, but we cannot just bow down and accept that.

Some will be more naturally enthusiastic than others, and some will need a little bit of a pin in their bottoms to try and help them along the way. And we as parents need to know what it is—that when the pin is needed, and when the pat is needed, and when the hug is needed, whatever it is—but we need to encourage them towards the enthusiastic fulfillment of responsibility. If we tolerate reluctance in their attack upon duty, when they are we, when they are small, then we will breed adolescents who are equally reluctant and men and women who carry that into their lives. S. We need to encourage them to be sympathetic towards the needs of others. And they will not learn that by a seminar.

They will learn it when they see us, won't they? If we are cynical and cold concerning people's need, we will breed children who are cynical and cold. If we have an empathetic heart towards those around us who are less fortunate or whose circumstances are poor in some way, if we are concerned for people in wheelchairs, if we reach out to the unlovely, if we try and take a hold of the person who seems to be lonely and helpless, then we will discover that our children do likewise. And we need to encourage them and commend them for the sympathy of their hearts displayed in their concern for other people. Children are not naturally sympathetic towards those who are less fortunate.

Children will naturally make fun of people who are either too fat or too thin, too tall or too short. And it will be at our knees that they learn this. Reverant towards God, enthusiastic in fulfilling responsibility, sympathetic towards the needs of others. P. Prompt in all aspects of life. Prompt in all aspects of life. All of us face the great challenge of this. We try and leave things to the last minute if we're put together in that way. I know I do.

I can go to the airport in less time than anyone else, so I think. And yet, promptness is a measure of our respect and sincere concern for other people. That's what promptness is. It's a measure of sincere respect. That's why we're supposed to be prompt in worship.

Because it is a measure of our sincere respect, first, for the King of Kings, who's always here on time, and secondly, for those around us who have begun to prepare their hearts in worship. We will never breed children who are prompt while we ourselves are always like the cow's tail. E. Economical.

Economical. Teaching children the old phrase from our mothers, Waste not, want not. I was telling some humorous anecdotes to someone in our home the other night of how my mother refused to allow herself or anyone associated with her ever to leave anything upon a plate where she had been given food by somebody else. She might allow us, if it were her food—there might be a measure of sympathy there—but if it was somebody else or someone else's house, it had to disappear from the plate. I use that phrase because she was a master at making things disappear from the plate. One of my earliest recollections is of her being confronted by the most enormous breakfast she'd ever seen in her life.

We were staying in a bed and breakfast. Some well-meaning lady piled sausage upon sausage on my mother's plate. She hardly ate a thing for breakfast. But I knew she always cleaned her plates, so I sat to watch carefully.

I want to see the Waste not, Want not principle in action now. I want to see her cheeks bulge with the sausage. She cleaned her plate. She ate a portion, and the rest she put in her purse.

Wrapped in paper napkins, the sausage began to disappear from the plate. And out she came with her handbag, as we call it then, and I said, Now where are we going? She said, To feed the seagulls.

So somebody ate it even if it was only the seagulls. But, you know, we live in such a wasteful environment, such a trash-it mentality, that we'll never treat the economy to our children unless we're committed to it ourselves. C, courageous. C, courageous in standing for what's right. Courageous in standing for what's right. The spirit of Daniel in our young men, even if everybody does it—not me—is gonna take courage.

And T, truthful in all aspects of life. What will this involve? Well, it will involve the positive commitment that we make to developing in our children a taste and a thirst for these things. It will involve a negative dimension of showing them that she needs to be submissive and respectful to parents, to elders, to those in authority, to God. Solomon says, If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don't love him. If you love him, you will be prompt to punish him. Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope.

If you don't, you will ruin his life. We thank God tonight from our hearts for children's ministry in this church. But when we've prayed for the Sunday school teachers and those who have our children in their care, and when we thank God for all that they've taught them, and one day when I get to heaven, I'm gonna look out at the Sunday school teacher who showed me the way of salvation so much and so clear that I went home to ask my dad if I was too young to become a Christian. I don't know who the Sunday school teacher was, but I know she must have made it very plain that Sunday morning.

I'm gonna go look for her and thank her for being so faithful with a bunch of squirming, unruly little infidels. But when we've acknowledged it all, we cannot evade, loved ones, the responsibility which falls to us. This poem is not my favorite, but the picture is a good one. I took a piece of plastic clay and idly fashioned it one day, and as my fingers pressed it still, it bent and yielded to my will. I came again when days were past, the bit of clay was hard at last.

The form I gave it, still it bore, but I could change that form no more. I took a piece of living clay and gently formed it day by day and molded it with power and art, a young child's soft and yielded heart. I came again when years were gone.

He was a man I looked upon, the early imprint still he bore, but I could change him then no more. The great privilege of touching children with eternal values is given to us all—not just the moms and dads. The single people in our church touch our children too as they come around our homes, and by their life and by their example instill in these tender lives things that will matter for time and for all of eternity. You're listening to Truth for Life, that is Alistair Begg with the message he's titled Respect for Children.

Alistair returns in just a moment to close today's program with prayer, so stay with us. As we are learning, our job as parents comes with many challenges, and so if you are expecting a child or if you're a parent of young children, we want you to be prepared for these challenges by planning in advance. And to help you with that, there's a book we're recommending called Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children for Life. This is a guidebook that helps lead couples through the important decisions you will need to make ahead of time about how you will work together as parents. For example, the book talks about how you will apply discipline, how to help your children through disappointments, how to balance academics with Bible study, the kinds of boundaries you'll want to set for your children around screen time and social media. Importantly, the book lays out actions you can take together so you can serve as Christ-centered role models and nurture a God-honoring home. Find out more about the book Parenting Essentials or request your copy when you give a donation.

Go to slash donate or if you'd prefer you can call us at 888-588-7884. And by the way, when you give, your donation goes directly toward the distribution of this daily program. On behalf of the many who rely on listening each day, we want to say thank you. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, look upon us in your grace and goodness now as we face the challenge of a new week. Thank you that you're a God who is able even to break in and transform our failures of the past, that you're a God who's able to restore the years that the locusts have eaten, that it's never too late with your help to see a real and transforming change in our lives and in the lives of our youngsters. We commit us and them to your care tonight.

Thank you for this day Lord Jesus Christ. Take us in safety. Watch over us. Fill us with your spirit and make us useful to you and to one another. For Jesus' sake we ask it. Amen. Thanks for listening today. We know that every child is precious and yet every child is also a sinner. So how do imperfect parents teach perfect wisdom to imperfect children? Join us tomorrow to find out. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 08:23:00 / 2024-05-28 08:31:15 / 8

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