daily Broadcast

What's a Child to Do?, Part 1

From the series House or Home - Parenting Edition

Would you like to create an environment with your children that would foster respect, honor, and love? An environment in which obedience was expected and received? It IS possible and in this teaching, Chip takes a look at your child’s role in building a close-knit family.

2024 House or Home Parenting Broadcast Art 600x600 jpg
Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Today’s Offer

House or Home Parenting Edition free mp3 download.


Message Transcript

Imagine, if you will, being at a little church called Ephesus. And a scroll has come, the apostle Paul has written it, and you’re told – you’re Timothy – and you’re going to read it and this is God’s Word to the Church.

And, by the way, when you would look around in this church, the kids wouldn’t be off somewhere else. This is actually directed right to the children so he expects the children that are old enough to understand – about third grade on up or so – to really hear. And just, if you were a child back then, here’s the world that you would have been born into.

Four characteristics of children during the Roman Empire. Number one, it was called the Roman Patria Potestas. That’s Latin for the father’s power or rule. A father could sell his children as slaves, he could make them work in the fields even in chains, he could punish them as he liked; a father could even inflict the death penalty and the Roman government would not say a word. The father had absolute power and right over you if you were a child. That would not be a pretty place to grow up.

The second characteristic of children in the Roman Empire was called the Custom of Child Exposure. So, when a child was born, the father would sit in a chair and they would take the brand-new baby and lay the child at the father’s feet.

If the father reached down and picked up the child, it was kept. If the father saw the child, maybe it wasn’t the sex that he wanted, maybe there was something about the child that just wasn’t attractive, if he got up and walked away from the chair, the child was killed.

And I want you to get that in your mind, because when the apostle Paul talks about kids and their value and how we take care of them and then their responsibility later to us, this is radical. This isn’t like what people would be used to. It’s not like kids really matter and they are important and we should love our children.

Third characteristic in the Roman Empire: unwanted children were commonly left in the Roman Forum. There, they became the property of anyone who cared to pick them up. They were collected at nights by people who nourished them in order to later sell them or slaves or to stock the brothels of Rome – both boys and girls.

Fourth aspect: the ancient civilization was merciless to the sickly or the deformed child. Seneca, who was an orator of the time wrote this, “We slaughter a fierce ox, we strangle a mad dog, we plunge the knife into sickly cattle lest they taint the herd, children who are born weakly and deformed we drown.”

And so, all I want you to hear is that when you hear what God says through the apostle Paul to kids, this book by God’s power, over thousands of years, has the dignity of human life and of children and women and the weak and the hurting. Any one of us could have been that in that day.

And so, let’s talk about God’s very first words. If you would open the Bible and say, “When does God ever speak about children?” What is the first time He speaks about children? You have to go back to Exodus chapter 20, verse 12. And we get a command.

Most of you know probably that there was, Moses got two commands. The first tablet had four commands and it was about your relationship vertically with God. The second tablet, there were six commands, unlike on cartoons when there’s five and five. And six through ten were about your relationships with people. And the first and primary command was your relationship with your folks.

And so, it says, “Honor your father and mother,” that’s a command. The promise: “…so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

And so, the motive was: honor your father and mother – we’ll talk about what that means – so that you could prosper, so you could get God’s best.

The word honor here means, by definition, it means literally to be heavy, it means to glorify, to ascribe value and worth. It means to respect them, to hold them in high regard. This same form that is used right here in this fifth command is used in three other specific places in Leviticus 19:3. The word is translated fear or awe or respect.

So, the idea of honor is: fear and awe and respect. In Deuteronomy 26:19 it meant to give fame or praise, to speak well of. It has the idea: to honor your folks is to enhance their reputation. And then, finally, in 1 Samuel 2:29 and 30, it has the idea of wanting to please someone, to hold what they think and to honor that relationship above every other relationships.

And so, that’s strong. God, when He speaks to children says, Look, I am creating an order in the world. I am giving you the most basic commands that reveal My character for your good. First command in human relationships: “Children, have respect, awe, and reverential fear for your parents.” They matter. I, God, the Creator of the universe have placed them over you. And there’s a way that children honor their parents, there’s a way that young adults and teenagers honor their parents, and there’s a way that grown adults honor their parents.

Why, though? You think about this. Why did God give this command? Why is it so important? I would suggest three reasons.

One, it’s the foundation for human relationship. Okay? This whole idea of a family, it didn’t just come out of thin air. Human relationship and family, there’s priority and authority and responsibility and roles and God says, This is how it works. It starts with a mother and a Father and a relationship with their kids.

Second, it’s the foundation for respect of authority. All relationships, all civilizations, there needs to be this respect for authority and God has instituted it where it begins with your kids. And it begins with your kids understanding, at an early age, that those in authority, especially their parents, need to be respected in a very positive way.

And as you can see in our culture, that has been eroded. And think about this. If kids can’t honor the authority of people that they can see, how will they ever honor the authority of a God that they can’t see? See, this is really, really important.

And our casual, “it doesn’t matter,” now in a lot of schools, even teachers, “Just call me Bob. I’m your eighth-grade teacher.” “Call me Mary. We’re all on the same plane.” And this super laid back experience. There is a place for Mr. So-and-So or some honor. Some parts of the country do that really well. I’m from a part of the country that doesn’t do that very well out there on the West Coast.

Third reason is the foundation for human development. How you relate to your parents will directly affect your self-esteem, your morals, your values, your sexual identity, your worldview, and your relationship with God. There is, you can do all the studies in the world, how many of us talk about our family of origin? That word we call baggage. How we respond, our family systems, all that stuff has to do with what God created.

Now, let’s ask and answer the three big questions. As a child, how do I honor my parents? As a teen or a young adult, how do I honor my parents? And then for those of us that are grown, how do I honor my parents? What does it look like to honor our parents?

As a child, I honor my parents by obeying them. Now, so far in this series, are we starting to get an inkling that there’s a little emphasis here? Parents, here’s what you do: teach them to obey. Children, obey your parents. This is big.

Notice the text, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,” notice the apostle Paul is reaching back to the fifth command, “which is the first command with a promise, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”

What they need to do is obey you and respect you. Now, we need to be easy to obey and easy to respect, by being fair and caring and along with the limits, having very loving relationships. But this isn’t what parents were telling their children. The apostle Paul is assuming they are in the room and they are reading from God’s Word.

Our personal policy, when my kids were about second grade all the way up, we sat in church, together. Saturday night, by the time they got to be teenagers, often they would maybe sit with their friends. We would go out to dinner and talk about things later. But your kids need to see you worship. Because the fact is is that a lot of what they catch of your heart for God is they just catch.

See, what happens now, we have segregated the Church so much generationally, is that we have this group and that group and fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth and then the high school. And there are kids that, the only time they have ever, in a worship service with their mother and father are Easter and Christmas. And now we are shocked out of about eighty percent of all the kids in Bible-believing evangelical churches go away to college and within five years, they don’t return to the Church? Well, I wonder why. We have niche marketed. What we have done is we have said, “We want to meet your needs. We want everything to work for you in your way,” instead of, “Guess what – it’s okay for a kid to be bored.” It’s okay for a kid to color for a while.

Think about this. God chooses to actually speak directly to kids that are of age that can understand. And whether that’s six or seven or eight or nine years old. But apparently, because the word for child here is not like older child. It’s the word for a small child. And he says, “Small children,” in fact, like I said, when I taught this, I said, “Bring your kids next week. God wants to say something to them.” And I watched them. A little six-year-old and seven-year-old and you had an occasional five-year-old. And, one, I try and do my best to keep their interest.

But it’s an amazing thing for them to hear from their pastor: “little boy, little girl, let me tell you something. It’s God’s will for you to obey your mom and dad.” This word parent here is a Latin phrase. In loco Dei. In loco Dei. It’s a legal term in Latin. You know what it means, the word parent? In the place of God.

And so, I told, I wanted my, our people in the church, I wanted their kids to hear, not just from their mom and dad, from me: When you obey God, when your parents, you obey God. And when you are obeying God, the way you show that is by obeying your parents.

You don’t have to agree with them, but God put them over you. A lot of kids have never heard that.

So, young children, all of you in here, all of you five and six-year-olds, eight-year-olds, obey your mom and dad.

Second, as a young person, I honor my parents by respecting and cooperating with them. Respecting and cooperating with them.

And I see this as teenagers all the way through early adults and by an early adult, if you’re living in your folks’ home, if they are helping you with the insurance, if they are paying for your college, if you’re living at home – we always have this deal, right? I thought when my kids turned eighteen, Oh, parenting is over! I don’t know why I thought that. I just thought, Okay, eighteen years, then you release them.

From eighteen to about twenty or twenty-one, there were times it was harder than when they were two and three, because this thing happens. “Hey! Eighteen. I’m an adult! I make my own decisions now. According to the government, now you’re legal, responsible. And I’m eighteen, I can go into places and…” “Okay, big eighteen-year-old who is totally grown up, you want to totally grow up and pay off your college yourself? You want to be totally grown up and pay all the insurance for your car yourself?”

See, this deal is that puts you in a hard spot is they want all the authority but they don’t want all the responsibility.

The tension is: okay, how do you honor your parents? Do we need to let out the rope of responsibility and authority? Absolutely. Do they need to make more and more of their own decisions? Absolutely. But as we give them more and more rope of responsibility, they need to assume, “Okay, you know what? You pay, you pay,” like my kids, “I can help you out a little,” but all my boys bought their own first cars. Okay? “I’ll help you out with insurance. You pay all the gas.”

I wanted the weight of responsibility to be on them. Now, we helped them a lot and we were able to pay all the tuitions but spending money and books and part of room and board – different seasons with different kids, but it was just a straight up, “We’re in this together.” And that’s what you want to do. You want them to feel the responsibility and then you give more and more of the authority so that that dependence shifts from you to God and they make great decisions.

Now, what I would want to say to those teenagers and to those young adults is the way you honor your folks, even when you really disagree with them, if you’re living in their home, you need to cooperate and you need to respect them.

Listen to what the Scripture says, Proverbs 23:22, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother, when she is old.” It goes on to say, “If you curse your parents,” Proverbs 20:20, “your life will end like a lamp that goes out in the dark.” Now, this is from the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon.

And you might jot in your notes: Deuteronomy chapter 21. Just as a little side note you might want to read. If a child was incorrigible, if a child wouldn’t respond, if a child was rebellious, if a child did the kind of things that are in this passage, in Deuteronomy 21, it’s was under God’s theocracy, do you know what the penalty was? This wasn’t like you got your wrist slapped and you had a time out and you couldn’t use the car. It was the death penalty. A rebellious child – and you think, Whoa!

I just want you to see how far – not obeying your parents, not cooperating with your parents, disrespecting your parents, dissing your parents, talking evil of your parents, knowing they have said, “Do not do these things,” and playing a separate game behind their back, this is really, really serious stuff. And teenagers need to hear that and know: God will hold you responsible.

And there are some young people that can’t figure out why opportunities don’t happen, why God doesn’t bless their work, why they are frustrated, why relationships keep breaking down. I’ve got news for you. When you position yourself, disrespecting and not cooperating with your parents, you’re not in a position to receive the favor and the blessing of God.

And so, that is why, on our side, as parents, don’t be a coward. Don’t back away. Peace at any price is not worth it and it doesn’t work. We have got parents now that don’t confront their teenagers, “Well, it’s just a phase they are going through.”

I hear in church parking lots kids talk back, cuss their parents, slam the door. And they have been in my office going, “What can I do? What can I do? Everything is falling apart.” And it’s like they are in these handcuffs. I say, “Well, can I ask you a couple questions?” “Sure.” “Whose car are they driving?” “Mine.” “Who puts the gas in the car?” “Me.” “Whose phone are they using?” “Mine.” And you’re telling me you can’t do anything? You don’t want to do anything. What you don’t want is a conflict.

They didn’t get this disrespectful overnight. By the way, if you happen to have small kids, you know this stuff about love and limits? If you have a two, three, four, or five-year-old that just seems out – just really tough on the limits – and you just think, This is too big of a headache. Add ten years. Add ten years. It’ll get you up off the La-Z-Boy. Because it’s a lot easier to set limits on three, four, five, six-year-olds than it is on sixteen and eighteen-year-olds. And so, all I’m saying is you have biblical grounds. You need to do it under control. Because part of it, then we get in this power stuff. Because the flip side of this is I talk to teenagers. “Man, I hear what you are saying, pastor, but, man, my parents say this and they say for me to get off. They are on the phone more than I am.

So, God is really clear. “Children, honor your parents,” teens and young adults, “by respecting and cooperating.” Parents, be worthy of respect. Live a life worthy of respect.