A third role of parents in providing a paideia education, a comprehensively Christ-centered education, is that of a king. The king function of parents is that of training them in righteousness, which basically means doing the right things. The result of a proper education is obedience unto the Lord and his laws.
A child is motivated by God’s love and grace to obey God’s laws, which sets the standard of what is holy, just, and good. God's law is like the boundary of the garden of Eden. It provides a safe space to fully enjoy God. So, when a child, motivated by God’s love and grace, obeys God’s law, he enjoys God more and becomes more like God. But when a child does not obey God, he not only leaves the bounds of safety and experiences danger and destruction, but he also experiences loneliness and separation from God as well.
1. Teach your child the meaning and the value of obedience unto the Lord. The first training is that of obedience, an obedience that is driven by love, and not fear.
Teach your children the true spirit, motive, and the value of biblical obedience. In your conversations with your children, talk more about what they are made for, and the “spirit of sonship” which is given to them to move toward that goal, rather than just what they need to do now. When they are merely told what to do now, they are lead to a “spirit of slavery.” (Rom 8:15). Frequently remind them of what the apostle Paul reminded of the young Timothy: “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” Training in the obedience to God is all about training in trusting in God’s power to exercise love toward others while controlling myself. Helping your children understand this will ensure that they will be driven by love, not fear, in their obedience.
Teach your children to obey human authorities, especially the parents, as unto the Lord.
Train your children that their obedience toward parents is their obedience unto the Lord. Obedience towards parents is not a mere preparation toward obedience unto the Lord. It is obedience unto the Lord. Of course, when a parent asks their children to do something that opposes God’s standard, it is not obedience unto the Lord. But when parents train their children to obey them, it is not just an obedience toward the parents, but as unto the Lord. This has several implications.
When parents require a reasonable task from their children, children should obey, right away, all the way, and with a cheerful heart, as unto the Lord.
Parents should not abuse their privilege and remember that they are training their children to obey God through the parents, and not just for the parents. So, parents need to make sure that they are not using their children to fulfill their own idolatry.
As students grow older, there is a place for allowing students to make their own choices. However, it is parents’ responsibility to see that children are following Christ. Yes, our children’s faith comes from God, but God uses the means of parental nurturing to lead a child to Christ. (Prov 22:6, Eph 6:4). Do not believe in the lie that parents can do little to nothing about a child’s relationship with God.
Teach your children that true blessing is the transformed life that results from trusting in the Lord and obeying his laws.
Blessing is often falsely conceived of as something that we receive from God in exchange for "believing" in him, without us doing anything. Of course, it is by faith only that we enjoy the blessing of God’s forgiveness and salvation. However, that is only the beginning. The rest of God’s blessing is the transformation of our lives according to God’s laws.
Take one verse: Ps 128:1-2. “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands. You shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” According to this verse, the blessing and wellness in life is a result of fear of the Lord (equivalent of “faith” in the NT) that leads to obedience (“walk in his ways”).
Applying this to specific laws of God, let’s take the 7th commandment. This commandment is about sexual purity, which includes marriage between one man and one woman, sex within marriage, and many other aspects of God’s laws regarding sexual purity that are so easily broken in our society today. The blessing of the 7th commandment happens when we keep it.
In Dt 4:6, God tells the Israelites that when they keep the laws of God, they will not only become a powerful nation, but that their neighboring non-Christian nations will want to know the God of the Christians. They will ask, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”
Teach your children that true blessings that lead to the prosperity of an entire culture and nation comes from trust and obedience to God’s laws (Dt 28).
(See next week for the last part in this series)