1. NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION
a. How is the home a natural place to start the work of reform? Malachi 4:5, 6; Luke 1:17.
b. What prophetic words applied to Christ may faithful parents also claim as a source of encouragement in the training of their children? Hebrews 2:13.
“It is of the greatest importance that parents be able to say, ‘Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me’ (Isaiah 8:18). If this is our privilege, it will be seen that we have done the work committed to our hands; that solid timbers have been used in the character building of our children. It will be seen that they are untainted, unpolluted by the evils of the world; the love and fear of God is in their souls.”—The Signs of the Times, May 13, 1889.
“Happy are the parents whose lives are a true reflection of the divine, so that the promises and commands of God awaken in the child gratitude and reverence; the parents whose tenderness and justice and long-suffering interpret to the child the love and justice and long-suffering of God.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 375.
2. DUTIES OF PARENTS
a. How can an ideal interrelationship be established between parents and children? Colossians 3:20, 21.
“Actual wrong should be made to appear just as sinful as it is, and a firm, decided course should be pursued to prevent its recurrence; yet children should not be left in a hopeless state of mind, but with a degree of courage that they can improve and gain your confidence and approval.”—Child Guidance, p. 279.
b. What is our duty toward our children as far as prayerfully disciplining them in love and in the fear of the Lord? Proverbs 19:18; Hebrews 12:7, 8.
“Do parents realize their responsibility? Many seem to lose sight of the watch care they should ever have over their children, and suffer them to indulge in evil passions, and to disobey them. They take but little notice of them until their own feelings are raised, and then punish them in anger.
“Many parents will have to render an awful account at last for their neglect of their children. They have fostered and cherished their evil tempers by bending to their wishes and will, when the wishes and will of the children should bend to them. They have brought God’s frown upon them and their children by these things. Parents, have you forgotten that which was written in the holy word: ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his son’? (Proverbs 13:24). Children are left to come up instead of being trained up. The poor little children are thought not to know or understand a correction at ten or twelve months old, and they begin to show stubbornness very young. Parents suffer them to indulge in evil tempers and passions without subduing or correcting them, and by so doing they cherish and nourish these evil passions until they grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength.”—The Review and Herald, September 19, 1854.
c. What question will God ask of parents as shepherds of their children? Jeremiah 13:20.
3. FURTHER DUTIES OF PARENTS
a. What essential quality must a man reveal as a son before he can qualify to be a competent father? Proverbs 15:20; 1:5; 13:1; 14:16.
“Never will education accomplish all that it might and should accomplish until the importance of the parents’ work is fully recognized, and they receive a training for its sacred responsibilities.”—Education, p. 276.
b. How important is it for parents not to indulge blind affection or to manifest undue severity toward their children? John 10:27; Ephesians 6:4.
“While we are not to indulge blind affection, neither are we to manifest undue severity. Children cannot be brought to the Lord by force. They can be led, but not driven. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,’ Christ declares (John 10:27). He does not say, My sheep hear My voice and are forced into the path of obedience. Never should parents cause their children pain by harshness or unreasonable exactions. Harshness drives souls into Satan’s net.
“Administer the rules of the home in wisdom and love, not with a rod of iron. Children will respond with willing obedience to the rule of love. . . . Make their lives as happy as possible. . . . Keep the soil of the heart mellow by the manifestation of love and affection, thus preparing it for the seed of truth.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 114.
“Exact obedience in your family; but while you do this, seek the Lord with your children, and ask Him to come in and rule. Your children may have done something that demands punishment; but if you deal with them in the spirit of Christ, their arms will be thrown about your neck; they will humble themselves before the Lord and will acknowledge their wrong. That is enough. They do not then need punishment. Let us thank the Lord that He has opened the way by which we may reach every soul.”—Child Guidance, p. 244.
“The combined influence of authority and love will make it possible to hold firmly and kindly the reins of family government.”—The Adventist Home, p. 308.
4. DUTIES OF CHILDREN
a. What divine obligation rests upon children in relation to their parents? Ephesians 6:2, 3. Discuss how true Christian children will behave toward their parents. Levicitus 19:32.
“The obligation resting upon children to honor their parents is of lifelong duration. . . . Our obligation to our parents never ceases. Our love for them, and theirs for us, is not measured by years or distance, and our responsibility can never be set aside.”—The Adventist Home, p. 360.
“Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. . . .The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and succor and comfort them in old age.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308.
“A true Christian will never be unkind, never under any circumstances be neglectful of his father or mother. . . .
“Children, let your parents, infirm and unable to care for themselves, find their last days filled with contentment, peace, and love. For Christ’s sake let them go down to the grave receiving from you only words of kindness, love, mercy, and forgiveness. You desire the Lord to love and pity and forgive you, and to make all your bed in your sickness, and will you not treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself?”—The Adventist Home, pp. 362, 363.
b. Besides the parents, who else should be treated with special respect? 1 Timothy 5:1, 17; Hebrews 13:17.
“[The fifth commandment] also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308.
“God has especially enjoined tender respect toward the aged. He says, ‘The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness’ (Proverbs 16:31). It tells of battles fought, and victories gained; of burdens borne, and temptations resisted. It tells of weary feet nearing their rest, of places soon to be vacant.”—Education, p. 244.
5. THE HOME AND THE SABBATH
a. Where and how were the family and the Sabbath linked together? Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:1–3.
b. How does the Sabbath provide opportunities for families to commune with God? Exodus 31:13; 20:11.
“The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God’s purpose they are indissolubly linked together. On this day more than any other, it is possible for us to live the life of Eden. It was God’s plan for the members of the family to be associated in work and study, in worship and recreation, the father as priest of his household, and both father and mother as teachers and companions of their children.”—Education, pp. 250, 251.
“We should devote time [on the Sabbath] to interesting our children. A change will have a happy influence upon them. We can walk out with them in the open air; we can sit with them in the groves and in the bright sunshine, and give their restless minds something to feed upon by conversing with them upon the works of God, and can inspire them with love and reverence by calling their attention to the beautiful objects in nature.
“The Sabbath should be made so interesting to our families that its weekly return will be hailed with joy.”—Child Guidance, p. 536.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What prophecy of Malachi points to a special work to be done today in Christian homes?
2. How ought Christian parents to develop necessary skills to achieve the best relations with their offspring?
3. To what extent are parents to encourage their children to manifest a serious interest in their Bible study?
4. What are children to do in obedience to the divine injunction to honor their parents? How are they to treat their parents in their old age?
5. Why are the family and the Sabbath inseparably joined together?