Love Your Children
By Loving Your Mate
by Chris Reeves
Parenting begins with parents. Parents joined in marriage are to children what a foundation is to a house. If you want your children to grow up strong with the right values, then you, as parents must provided them with the right foundation from the beginning. God provided for the home by first creating one man and one woman to be joined in marriage. These two joined in marriage were to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28). The order is this: a godly marriage first, then children. So, how can parents love their children? They can love them by loving their mate. The Apostle Paul wrote that the older women were to teach the younger women “…to love their husbands, to love their children…” (Titus 2:4). Loving your children and loving your mate go hand in hand.
Love Your Children
By Maintaining a Godly Marriage
Marriages built upon God’s word will result in children being raised the right way. Do you have enough love for your children to begin and maintain a godly marriage? Marriage begins with one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6). This kind of marriage is honorable among all (Hebrews 13:4).
There are problems when children are brought into the world without a godly set of parents guiding them. The percentage of out-of-wedlock births increased 511 percent from 1960 to 1997. And, the percentage of single-parent families more than tripled during this time. Between 1960 and 1997 the marriage rate decreased 33 percent. Children born out of wedlock and to single parents often end up as juvenile delinquents because they do not have the nurturing they need from a godly father and mother. Even if two parents are present in the life of a child, it is possible for these parents to neglect the child to the point of shame (Proverbs 29:15). God wants two godly parents – one man and one woman living the way God directs – to be fruitful and multiply. Parents who are first directed by God’s word will be able to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). What if your marriage is not built upon the principles of God’s word? Fix it! Do you love your children enough to correct any wrongs in your marriage?
Maintaining a godly marriage also takes time together. Wise Solomon wrote, “And rejoice in the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18), and again, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days…” (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Peter wrote that a godly husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a “one flesh” relationship (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Ephesians 5:31). You may be married with children, but you must also spend some time during the day together with your spouse rejuvenating your relationship. Enjoy life together! Yes, raising children involves time, but parents must also put a priority on their own time together. Time spent together physically and spiritually will help parents to meet the challenges of raising children. Remember, partnership comes first, then parenthood.
Love Your Children
By Setting the Right Example
Children see what parents do, and hear what parents say. Parents, do you love your child enough to set the right example for them? All the passages of Scripture that apply to Christians setting the right example for the world would certainly apply also to parents setting the right example for their children (Matthew 5:12-13; Philippians 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12). Parents, if you want to know how your children will turn out tomorrow, take a good look at yourself today. Like father like son … like mother like daughter (Ezekiel 16:44). The best lesson you can teach your children outside the word of God is a godly example. Do you know that over 90 percent of a child’s influence comes from the home? You cannot rely on society, public schools, friends, local churches, or even other Christians to set the right example for your children. You must do it!
Parents, your children will see the bad in your marriage. Your children will see and hear you when you fuss, fight and insult one another. They will hear you when you lie, murmur and complain, use profanity, or when you tear down church members. They will see you if you are lazy or dishonest. They will also watch you as you put drugs, alcohol or tobacco into your body. They will see all your character flaws and imitate them (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-20; Ephesians 4:25 – 5:5; Colossians 3:5-9). Remember, deeds often speak louder than words. What message are your children hearing from you?
Parents, your children will see the good in your marriage. This of course, is what God desires. Mothers, your daughters will see how you submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ and they will grow up to do the same (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-5). Godly mothers will also exemplify respect for the father (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:2). Your children will see how you help your husband (Genesis 2:18,20). They will see your modest demeanor (1 Timothy 2:9-11; Titus 2:5) and how you love them and your husband (Titus 2:4). Fathers, your sons will see how you honor, cherish and love your wife as Christ loved the church and they will grow up to do the same (Proverbs 12:4; 31:28-29; Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). Godly fathers will not provoke a child (Ephesians 6:4) or show bitterness toward the mother (Colossians 3:19). Godly fathers will also set the right example of a loving leader (head) in the home (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23).
Setting the right example for your children begins with being a Christian yourself. Are you a Christian? Are you a faithful Christian? Do you love your children enough to show them the importance of being a faithful Christian? Why would your children want to be saved if you are not? Why would they want to live right and go to heaven if you are not living right? Why would they want to attend worship services regularly if you do not? Why would they be motivated to pray and read the Bible regularly if you do not? Why would they want to put God’s kingdom first if you do not? Why would they want to help others or share the gospel if they do not see you doing it? Parents, you need to follow the example of Paul who followed Christ and became a faithful Christian (Acts 26:29; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9), only then can you set the right example yourself for your children. If you are not a Christian, or if you marry a non-Christian, it will be difficult to raise your children in the right way. Parents, don’t just talk your values, walk your values.
Love Your Children
By Sharing the Responsibility
Parenting takes two. God has given the responsibility of raising children to both the mother and the father. Yes, mothers are to “rule the household” (1 Timothy 5:14) and be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). But, fathers are given the responsibility of nurturing the children in “the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There are many times when a mother has to raise the children without the help of the father and vice versa. In some cases, the mother is too quick to avoid her duty of managing the home by seeking secular work outside the home, or the father is too busy with his work and hobbies to help care for the children. This is not according to God’s plan. Fathers and mothers, do not let the responsibility of raising your children fall solely on your mate. Help each other as much as you can. Take your part seriously, and fulfill it completely each day. “Children are a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) for the mother and the father. Both have the responsibility to care for the children.
Love Your Children
By Remaining Committed
At the end of the 20th Century, approximately forty percent of all first marriages in the United States ended in divorce. The divorce rate has more than doubled since 1960. America has the highest divorce rate of Western nations. Almost one of every ten adults is divorced. The number of children involved in divorce in 1995 was 1.05 million. Sadly, about three of five divorcing couples have at least one child. What a tragedy! Many suffer from a divorce including the children. A man and woman should remain committed to each other after they vow to be married. They should do this because they love God’s word, because they love each other, and because they love their children. Divorce and remarriage for any cause (except for the cause of fornication) is contrary to the New Testament (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11) and results from disrespect for God’s word, selfishness and a lack of desire to work out problems.
Children are often hurt in divorce because they no longer have a permanent father or mother. Children of divorce often exhibit conduct problems, psychological maladjustments, and lower academic achievement. They are more likely to drop out of school and engage in premarital sex during their teen years. Children of divorce often slump into confusion, guilt, regression, separation anxiety, misbehavior, sadness and disillusionment, feeling deprived, anger, sexual tension, identity problems, false security, depression, fear, isolation or grief. Married couples with children seeking a divorce need to sit down and seriously contemplate the consequences of their actions. An unlawful divorce and remarriage that goes unrepented will damn the soul and harm the children. Married couples who truly love God, each other and their children will remain committed to each other for life (Proverbs 2:17; 5:15ff). Jesus said, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).
There are a number of ways you as a parent can show your love for your children. You can love them by teaching and training them and by providing for them. You can also love them by loving your mate. Maintain a godly marriage, set the right example for your children, share the responsibility of raising them, and remain committed to each other.
1. What is God’s divine arrangement for the home (Genesis 1:26-28)?
2. Mothers must learn to love whom (Titus 2:4)?
3. Maintaining a godly marriage will do what for the children?
4. Why is it important for married couples to spend time together?
5. Why is a parent’s example important to the child?
6. List some bad examples that parents can set for their children.
7. List some good examples that parents can set for their children.
8. Why is it important for both parents to be faithful Christians?
9. What responsibility in raising children does the mother have (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5) and the father have (Ephesians 6:4)?
10. How common is divorce today?
11. What kind of divorce is contrary to New Testament teaching?
12. How does divorce affect children?
13. Why is it important for married couples to remain committed to each other for life?
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 The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, page 47 (WaterBrook Press, 1999).
 Ibid. page 57.
 Ibid. page 63.
 Ibid. pages 68-72.
 Ibid. page 72.
 Children of Divorce, pages 39-73 (Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).