BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Many parents are only concerned about fulfilling their physical responsibilities to their families, neglecting their spiritual responsibilities. This should not be so. Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). Couples and parents must not focus on physical bread alone and neglect spiritual bread.
In this message, I have dealt with the spiritual responsibilities of a husband to the wife, a wife to the husband, and parents to their children.
Your spiritual responsibilities
1. Be a godly example. God expects parents to model the right pattern of behavior before their children because example is better than precept. The father should be a good representative of the heavenly Father before the family, especially the children. He should honour God and obey Him, among other things (Matthew 6:9-10; Luke 11:1-2).
God expects parents to teach or instruct their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; 11:18-21), Younger ones learn from adults; children learn from their parents. This is beyond what you say. Training children requires that parents are godly examples to them such as being a faithful and loving husband, a submissive and peaceful wife, a responsible and caring parent, etc.
The Bible says Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, but Christ was faithful as a Son in charge of the entire household (Hebrews 3:5-6). See yourself as God’s steward over your household, and be faithful. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?” (Matthew 24:45 New King James Version).
2. Seek the salvation of your family. Salvation is personal; nobody can be saved for another person. There’s no salvation by proxy. As the spiritual head of his home, a father should work towards the salvation of members of his family, especially his children. He should pray for their salvation, share the Word of God with them, lead them to Christ, and ensure that they’re baptized in water, and receive Holy Ghost baptism.
Of course, a Christian wife should also seek the salvation of her unbeliever-husband. She should pray for him and live a godly life that would speak to him without a word (1Peter 3:1). However, she could share the Word of God with him if he’ll listen.
The Bible records the examples of family heads who worked towards the salvation of members of their families. They were not satisfied only with their own salvation.
In Acts 10, when Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius, Cornelius had already assembled his relatives and close friends, waiting for Peter. While Peter was still speaking, Cornelius, together with His relatives and close friends, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. They were all saved and baptized in water (verses 24-48).
Lydia, a textile merchant, opened her heart to the word of God, and she was saved together with her family (Acts 16:14-15). Apparently she was a positive influence on the family and she brought them to the Lord
In addition, in Acts 16, the Philippian jailer and his household were saved and baptized after the jailer had brought out Paul and Silas to his house (Acts 16:30-34). Don’t be contented that you’re saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit and in water. Ensure that your family members enjoy the same thing. Your household can be saved and baptized. Paul said he baptized the household of Stephanas (1 Corinthians 1:16).
3. Teach them the word of God. Husbands should teach their wives the Word of God. They should wash their wives with the word of God like Christ did for the church sanctifying and cleansing her by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5:25-26). The LORD told the children of Israel to use different means to teach their children His commands (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). The Bible is the manual God has given His children for a living. Fathers should not leave the teaching or training of their children to their wives, the church, the school, or the society; instruct your entire household in the Word of God. The book of Proverbs contains a father’s exhortation to his son. The phrase “my son” is used in the New King James no fewer than twenty-three times in the book of Proverbs to address the son and teach him. But if the father fails to teach the children the Word of God or is not born again, the Christian-mother should do it alone.
In Genesis 18:19, the Bible says about Abraham, “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (New King James Version). What command or direction are you giving your own household? Can God depend on you to lead them right? “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 New King James Version).
Teach your family to fear the LORD. Acts 10:2 describes Cornelius, among other things as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household” (New King James Version).
Teach your family faith. Paul said the genuine faith in Timothy dwelt first in his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). Teach your household holy living. The LORD says, “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine” (Leviticus 20:26 New King James Version). Train your family to live a holy life and not to embrace the sinful lifestyle of the world. They should get rid of everything that constitutes sin (Genesis 35:2-4).
4. Love and encourage your family. Love your wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). Love your wife as your own body (Ephesians 5:28). Also, Colossians 3:19 says husbands should love their wives and never treat them harshly. Of course, wives should love their husbands, too. Titus 2:4 says older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children. In addition, wives should submit to their own husbands, as is fitting in the LORD (Colossians 3:18). Just as the church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their own husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:24).
Parents should raise their children in an atmosphere of love. They should not only show them love by buying them things; they should first give themselves to their children by spending quality and quantity time with them. Don’t be an absentee parent. Be available.
Everybody needs encouragement. Couples should encourage each other. In 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul also says to encourage each other. More importantly, parents should encourage their children to do the right thing and excel. They should not be discouraged. Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (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.”
5. Discipline your children. Disciplining your children and other young ones under your care is part of your spiritual responsibilities as a parent or guardian. The father should take the lead in doing this. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind” (New Living Translation). The converse is also true: don’t discipline your children and they will not give you happiness and peace of mind.
You must instruct and also correct, and punish when necessary. “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14 New Living Translation). Even the Bible recommends physical punishment where necessary as part of the process of raising one’s child.
Proverbs 20:30 says, “Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart” (New Living Translation). Similarly, Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (New King James Version).
Refusing to beat your child to correct or discipline him/her is contrary to the Word of God. The Bible knows that there are certain things our children won’t get or do right except we apply the rod of correction! “The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15 American Standard Version). Don’t leave your child to himself or herself. You may not beat the older members of your family, but you should correct them, as you consider appropriate. They don’t have to like it now, but, later in life, they’ll appreciate it. Take note: the rod and reproof give wisdom, not the rod only
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (New Living Translation). The children or parents don’t have to enjoy it. To withhold the rod of discipline is to destroy the child.
That song, “A Bible and a Belt,” by Joey and Rory captures this point succinctly. Parents must raise their children with both a Bible and a belt! However, that does not mean that a parent should beat a child for every kind of misbehavior or beat a child to the point of injuring or killing him or her. That’s child abuse, and it’s criminal. “Chastise your son while there is hope for him, but be careful not to flog him to death” (Proverbs 19:18 New English Bible).
6. Cultivate the habit of going regularly with your family to the house of God. Train your family to cherish the gathering together of saints; don’t go to church services or any other church programme that is open to all, and leave your family at home.
Church services are not for adults only; go with your family. Let them appreciate the importance of not forsaking meeting together with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25).
7. Pray for them and pray with them. Pray for your family and with them. Train your children to pray. Jesus modeled a prayerful life to the disciples and, upon their request, taught them how to pray (Luke 11:1-4; Matthew 6:9-15). Let your family see your prayer life and also teach them, especially your children and the younger ones, how to pray. Ezra 3:2 says, “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel with his family began to rebuild the altar of the God of Israel so they could sacrifice burnt offerings on it” (Ezra 3:2b New Living Translation). They did that along with Jeshua son of Jehozadak with his fellow priests. We could say Zerubbabel with his family prayed! He involved his family in the rebuilding of the altar.
Rebuild the altar of God – you and your family. Pray for your family and pray with them. Teach them spiritual warfare, prayer and fasting, and praise and worship.
8. Bring your family under God’s blessing. Do what will bring God’s blessing upon your family. The name Achan means troubler. Achan brought trouble upon his family by his greed or covetousness. All Israel stoned them and burnt them (Joshua 7:25). Don’t bring your family under a curse or cause trouble for them.
The house of Obed-Edom was blessed because of the ark of God brought to his house (2 Samuel 6:11). Become a channel of blessing to your family. Bequeath to them a legacy of blessing, not that of a curse.
Pronounce blessing upon your household, especially your spouse and children. 2 Samuel 6:20 says David returned to bless his family, but the head of Michal, the daughter of Saul (David’s wife), by her contempt for David, rejected blessing (verses 21-23).
Conclusion: Are you fulfilling your spiritual responsibilities to your family? If you are not, start today. Don’t be satisfied with fulfilling only your physical responsibilities. Your family shall be blessed, and you also, if you fulfill your spiritual responsibilities.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *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 attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O 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 repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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