1. AMBASSADORS FOR GOD
a. What is the message of the fifth commandment? Exodus 20:12.
“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. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308.
b. How are parents to help young children? Proverbs 22:6.
“[Parents] are to work out the salvation of those who are too young to understand the difference between good and evil. They are in no case to think that good will naturally predominate in the hearts of their children. They are to guard carefully the words and actions of their little ones, lest the enemy shall gain an influence over them.”—The Signs of the Times, September 25, 1901.
2. AN AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY
a. How should parents handle the most serious responsibility ever given to humanity? Ephesians 6:4.
“For some reason many parents dislike to give their children religious instruction, and they leave them to pick up in the Sabbath School the knowledge which it is their privilege and duty to impart. . . . God commands His people to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What does this mean—the nurture and admonition of the Lord? It means to teach them to order the life by the requirements and lessons of the word; to help them to gain a clear understanding of the terms of entrance into the city of God. Not to all who would enter will the gates of that city be opened, but to those only who have studied to know God’s will and have yielded their lives to His control.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 109.
“Kindly, earnestly, tenderly, parents are to work for their children, cultivating every good trait and repressing every evil trait which develops in the character.”—The Signs of the Times, September 25, 1901.
“You should have no work so important that it will prevent you from giving to your children all the time that is necessary to make them understand what it means to obey and trust the Lord fully.”—The Adventist Home, pp. 183, 184.
b. Who taught Timothy in his home, and how did their teaching affect his life as a child and as a youth? 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15.
“Timothy’s father was a Greek and his mother a Jewess. From a child he had known the Scriptures. The piety that he saw in his home life was sound and sensible. The faith of his mother and his grandmother in the sacred oracles was to him a constant reminder of the blessing in doing God’s will. The word of God was the rule by which these two godly women had guided Timothy. The spiritual power of the lessons that he had received from them kept him pure in speech and unsullied by the evil influences with which he was surrounded. Thus his home instructors had cooperated with God in preparing him to bear burdens.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 203.
3. THE ROLE OF DISCIPLINE
a. What is the purpose of discipline? Psalm 144:12; Proverbs 25:28; 16:32.
“The object of discipline is the training of the child for self-government. He should be taught self-reliance and self-control. . . . Help him to see that all things are under law, and that disobedience leads, in the end, to disaster and suffering. . . .
“The true object of reproof is gained only when the wrongdoer himself is led to see his fault and his will is enlisted for its correction. When this is accomplished, point him to the source of pardon and power.”—Child Guidance, p. 223.
“One child, properly disciplined in the principles of truth, who has the love and fear of God woven through the character, will possess a power for good in the world that cannot be estimated.”—Ibid., p. 163.
b. How should we discipline the children under our care? Proverbs 29:15; Colossians 3:21.
“First reason with your children, clearly point out their wrongs, and impress upon them that they have not only sinned against you, but against God. With your heart full of pity and sorrow for your erring children, pray with them before correcting them. Then they will see that you do not punish them because they have put you to inconvenience, or because you wish to vent your displeasure upon them, but from a sense of duty, for their good; and they will love and respect you.”—Ibid., pp. 252, 253.
“Great care should be exercised by parents lest they treat their children in such a way as to provoke obstinacy, disobedience, and rebellion. Parents often stir up the worst passions of the human heart because of their lack of self-control. They correct them in a spirit of anger, and rather confirm them in their evil ways and defiant spirit, than influence them in the way of right.”—The Review and Herald, November 15, 1892.
“Parents, never act from impulse. Never correct your child when you are angry; for if you do this, you will mold him after your own image—impulsive, passionate, and unreasonable. You can be firm without violent threatenings or scoldings.”—Australasian Union Conference Record, September 6, 1909.
4. OVERCOMING PARENTAL MISTAKES
a. What command is given to all children about obeying their parents? Ephesians 6:1. What can parents learn from the advice given to teachers?
“The parent’s will, when it is in harmony with the will of God, is to be law.”—The Review and Herald, December 18, 1900.
“Heavenly messengers are sent to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation; and these would converse with the teachers if they were not so satisfied with the well-trodden path of tradition, if they were not so fearful of getting away from the shadow of the world. Teachers should beware lest they close the gates so that the Lord can find no entrance into the hearts of the youth.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 161.
b. What should we do as we review those things which we have learned in our childhood? 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
“In all who have been chosen to accomplish a work for God the human element is seen. Yet they have not been men of stereotyped habits and character, who were satisfied to remain in that condition. They earnestly desired to obtain wisdom from God and to learn to work for Him. . . . [James 1:5 quoted.] But God will not impart to men divine light while they are content to remain in darkness. In order to receive God’s help, man must realize his weakness and deficiency; he must apply his own mind to the great change to be wrought in himself; he must be aroused to earnest and persevering prayer and effort. Wrong habits and customs must be shaken off; and it is only by determined endeavor to correct these errors and to conform to right principles that the victory can be gained. Many never attain to the position that they might occupy, because they wait for God to do for them that which He has given them power to do for themselves. All who are fitted for usefulness must be trained by the severest mental and moral discipline, and God will assist them by uniting divine power with human effort.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 248.
c. How many generations of our ancestors will have influenced our habits? Exodus 20:5.
5. VICTORY POSSIBLE
a. When Moses was a young man, what choice did he make? How was he able to overcome the effects of his life in Egypt? Hebrews 11:24–27.
“Moses had been learning much that he must unlearn. The influences that had surrounded him in Egypt—the love of his foster mother, his own high position as the king’s grandson, the dissipation on every hand, the refinement, the subtlety, and the mysticism of a false religion, the splendor of idolatrous worship, the solemn grandeur of architecture and sculpture—all had left deep impressions upon his developing mind and had molded, to some extent, his habits and character. Time, change of surroundings, and communion with God could remove these impressions. It would require on the part of Moses himself a struggle as for life to renounce error and accept truth, but God would be his helper when the conflict should be too severe for human strength.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 248.
b. How can we encourage our children to overcome sin? 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:57, 58; Proverbs 24:16 (first part).
“Let the child and the youth be taught that every mistake, every fault, every difficulty, conquered, becomes a steppingstone to better and higher things. It is through such experiences that all who have ever made life worth the living have achieved success.”—Child Guidance, p. 255.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. When are parents’ words to their children as the voice of God?
2. How can we bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
3. What must be gained in order for discipline or reproof to be successful?
4. What great change must we go through to be used by God?
5. How can we overcome bad habits that we have formed in childhood?