Growing to be like me

Dear BPCWA worshipper, In this pastoral, I want to recapitulate the salient points of our family seminar so that key lessons take root in our lives. Is it useful for grandparents, singles, and the young? Of course. Grandparents, you still engage with your children and grandchildren. Singles, you may have a family one day. The young, you are part of a family. And we all are ultimately an influence to children in the church too. So, do read on, praying that God will help us be godly examples. Better still, I hope that parents and everyone who missed the session will watch the video of it on our YouTube channel bpcwa.org.au/youtube.

Teaching by my example. Your example speaks louder than words to your children and grandchildren, even to children in the church. They see you as an authority and look up to you. What you do represents what is allowable, even to be desired, and they will emulate you. And even if they were sinful behaviours, children will follow suit too. In fact, they will take it to the next level of sinfulness beyond you. Am I exaggerating? Do my children and grandchildren really grow to be like me, you may be asking?

Do children do really grow to be like me? God both encourages and warns us clearly, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Ex 34:6-7). God promises grace to the obedient. And the reason why God will be “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children” is because they will commit the sins they learnt from their fathers. In fact, God warns that it will keep being passed on to later generations. God provides detailed accounts to teach us that He does not speak in vain. We saw how both good and sinful ways passed on from Abraham down even to Joseph’s generation. We saw Abraham’s half-lie for “self-preservation” taught Isaac to lie even more blatantly. Jacob deceived Isaac, following Rebekah’s instructions without reservations for “gain”. And Jacob’s children lied to him out of pure jealousy and hatred of Joseph. That is four generations! This was just one example of how a sinful trait and example of parents taught their children to sin the same sin without compunction and the children doing so more wickedly. We also saw the examples from Cain, David, Eli, and Samuel. We saw anger, murder, deceitfulness, favouritism, adultery, idolatry, and covetousness being passed on, just to name some.  As parents and even grandparents, you will see the painful effects of your sins! Learn from this and stop now! Break the circle of sin!

Growing to be like me! You are often so concerned about the friends and influences on your children from outside the home. But you fail to realise that the most inescapable and strongest influencer is you. Children consciously and unconsciously follow their parents’ ways. Your life and your home is a classroom to them 24 hours a day. They are constantly noticing, watching, and learning. Your marriage, your character, your lusts, and your choices will be what they will likely model after eventually when they grow up. You are training them all the time, either for the better or for the worse. You will be accountable to God for that. If we are honest, we have to admit that we see our parents’ character, habits, likes, dislikes, and lusts in ourselves. Hence, God would warn us that we learn the ways of those we spend time with, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Pr 13:20 ) and “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Pr 22:24-25).

A model for good growth. Be a faithful and true witness to your child.Paul aimed to be a spiritual example and could say, “thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith . . .” (2 Tim 3:10). Your attitude and actions, not your words alone, are what count the most because they are what your children truly see and will eventually follow. So, ensure that your confession and commitment are consistent with what you teach them about God and obedience. If you want them to truly believe that God is indeed the living and true God, they have to see that He is so in your life first.  If you always seek God and His Kingdom first in all things and approve only that which are excellent in your own life, then will you show to them that God is indeed the living and true God. If you want them to believe that God’s Word is true, then live in obedience in every aspect of your own life, not just pick and choose what you prefer. If you want them to be a disciple of Christ, then ensure that they are learning God’s Word and are brought up as a godly seed for Him, not a worldly seed for Satan. Be honest and sincere in your self-reflection.  They must see unfeigned faith in you.  If you have not been a good example, repent and ask God to forgive and grant you the grace to make the needed changes. Stop murmuring and complaining about ”having to”obey God. Instead, show them that you have a genuine love for and worship of your God, an unrelenting desire to study His Word to know and obey Him, an untiring and humble service because you truly see it as a privilege, an excitement to be part of God’s body through coming to and fellowshipping with others in church, an unselfish giving and caring of others, a joyful returning of tithes and offerings to God, and a steadfastness in witnessing to all around you. In your family model and home, ensure that you are approving what is excellent, not just what you deem is “good enough”. What you have as a marriage will be what they will accept and emulate when they have a family of their own. Be a father, a mother, a grandfather, or a grandmother who can say to your children and grandchildren with a clear conscience, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil 4:9).

Yours in our Lord’s service,