BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Parent-child relationship is one of the crucial issues that the Bible talks about. It is very important that everyone, children and parents, pays attention to what the Bible says about it. If parents and children follow what the Bible says, we shall have healthy parent-child relationships and, indeed, peaceful homes. Many homes are in trouble today because of the tension between the parents and their children, which has also resulted in tension between the parents.
God does not want the children to become a source of heartache to their parents and vice-versa; neither does He want the parents to be fighting each other over their children.
Malachi 2:15 says God wants godly children from the marriage union. “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union…” (New Living Translation). God is not looking for just children from a marriage but godly children. And children will not become godly just because they have been born or because their parents are church goers or professed Christians; they need to be well parented by following the instructions in the Word of God. Children will also not turn out well in life by doing only what they want to do or having their way all the time.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (New Living Translation). Children are a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is a reward. Verse 4 says they are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man. Children belong to God and not to their parents; parents are only trustees.
Children also must know first that they belong to God and not to themselves. They must know too that their parents have been given a divine responsibility to take care of them. Both the parents and the children must, therefore, follow God’s instructions in order to have a healthy parent-child relationship.
In view of this, I want to address briefly one important way of ensuring peaceful relationship between parents and their children.
God’s instruction to children
In the Ten Commandments, God instructs children: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 New King James Version). Deuteronomy 5:16 also records this. Conversely, one can say, “Dishonour your father and mother, that your days may be short upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” That means honour to one’s parents guarantees one long life; dishonour imposes a curse of premature death.
Lest anyone should say that this commandment is no longer relevant because we are in the dispensation of grace and no more under the law, it is repeated in the New Testament. Ephesians 6:1-3 makes reference to Exodus 20:12 amplifying it. It says, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘you will live along life, full of blessing’” (New Living Translation). Here, we see again God’s instruction to children and the benefit. This is the first commandment that comes with a promise.
God’s promise is that those who honour their parents will live a long life, full of blessing. The New King James Version says, “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” That means it may not be well with those who dishonour their parents and they may die young! Deuteronomy 21:18-21 actually prescribes that a stubborn and rebellious son, disobedient to his father and mother, and who would not listen though they discipline him and is a glutton and a drunkard should be stoned to death after his parents have brought him before the elders or the leaders of the town. That was in the Old Testament.
It is true we are in the New Testament and Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by his death on the cross (Galatians 3:13). In the present dispensation, we cannot stone to death children who are guilty of stubbornness and rebellion. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But a lifestyle of disobedience to parents still puts children at risk of dying young. We have seen cases where children disobey their parents by engaging in activities that eventually shorten their lives though God’s desire is that they repent and not die in their sins. Disobedience to parents can still cause children to die before their time.
Children are to honour their parents. “A son honors his father …” (Malachi 1:6 New King James Version). And honouring one’s parents does not mean just kneeling down, prostrating or bowing to greet them or saying frequently “Yes mummy” or “Yes daddy.” It means obeying them. If you honour your parents, you will obey them. Obedience is a proof of honour.
Luke 2:51 says Jesus returned to Nazareth from Jerusalem with his earthly parents and was obedient to them. That was after they had travelled without him. They did not know he had stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Passover celebration was over. They looked for him for three days and later found him in the temple discussing with the religious teachers.
“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 New King James Version). Disobeying parents is displeasing to God. Any child who disobeys his parents is a rebellious child. A sorrowful future awaits a rebellious child. Talking about Judah, the Lord says, “Destruction is certain for my rebellious children” (New Living Translation).
The Bible says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (New King James Version). No child is given the privilege to choose his parents. God took that decision for everyone and He expects children to submit to their parents as the first human authority in their lives after birth. Their obedience is however to the extent that what the parents want them to do does not conflict with what God wants. In the event of any conflict, children must obey God.
Romans 1:30 tells us that one of the consequences of men refusing to acknowledge God is disobedience to parents. And one of the sins that will be widespread in the last days is disobedience to parents (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Because we are already in the last days, perilous or very difficult times are here, as the Bible says, and many parents are battling with children’s disobedience. This is the prayer focus of many Christian parents. They shouldn’t lose hope. I pray that God will visit such children and they will return to Him.
God’s instruction to parents
Ephesians 6, among other things, also talks about the responsibilities of parents, not children’s only. The two must be balanced in order to have a healthy parent-child relationship. While children are supposed to obey their parents, the Bible balances the relationship by saying: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 New King James Version). What does it mean not to provoke your children? J. B. Phillips Translation puts it clearly and in simple words: DON’T OVERCORRECT YOUR CHILDREN (Emphasis mine). The Twentieth Century New Testament says, “Do not irritate your children.”
The book of Colossians also gives a similar instruction: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.” The New Century Version presents it this way: “Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.” The J. B. Phillips Translation again renders the phrase, “Do not provoke your children” used by the New King James Version as “Don’t overcorrect your children.” J. B. Phillips adds that if you overcorrect them, “they will grow up feeling inferior and frustrated” (verse 21b).
I believe we can apply the instruction to both biological parents and spiritual parents. Many parents have violated this instruction while focusing only on what the Bible says to children. Both the children and the parents (biological and spiritual), must align their beliefs and behaviour to the Word of God in order to ensure healthy relationships. Parents must not provoke, aggravate, irritate, nag or frustrate their children. They should not be too hard to please. Parents, who are guilty of this, should stop it. If they don’t stop it, their children may become discouraged and quit trying. And I am not trying to encourage lawlessness by children but to balance parents-children relationship.
Children must honour their parents and demonstrate it by obeying them while parents must learn how to communicate with their children. They should not provoke them by what they say; they should not abuse their position as parents to destroy, discourage, or devalue their children. Both parents and children must become Bible compliant in their relationship, and it shall be well with them in Jesus’ name.
I pray that in homes where there is crisis in parent-children relationship, the LORD shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:6). I pray that love, understanding, peace and joy shall be restored to the relationship between children and their fathers and mothers. Proverbs 10:1 says, “A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother” (New Living Translation). Parent, may your children bring you joy. Child, may you bring your parents joy.
If you want to be born again, take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Saviour and Lord. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the Lord and become a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Savior and my Lord and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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