Kids will be kids we say. And with that statement I always think about the children who called Elisha “baldly!” As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you bald head!” they said. Do you get the feeling that Elisha didn’t have any hair? “Go on up, you bald head!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. (2 Kings 2:23-25)This seems a little extreme! After all, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” The moral of the story isn’t that Elisha was a grumpy old man, but the children were disrespectful.
It seems a young boy entered the corner grocery store one day and asked the grocer for a box of Duz detergent. The grocer was puzzled and asked why he would want a box of Duz. The boy explained he was going to wash his cat. “Wash your cat? Young man, you know, you shouldn’t wash your cat with this kind of soap,” the grocer complained. But the boy insisted it would be O.K. A few days later, the same boy came back into the store. The grocer recognized him and struck up a conversation. “Say, how’s your cat doing?” The boy said, “Oh, he died.” The grocer responded, “Well, son, you know I warned you not to wash your cat with that Duz detergent! It’s much too strong.” The boy replied, “Aw, mister, the soap didn’t hurt him a bit! It was the spin cycle that got him.”
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” As parents, we understand where Manoah is coming from. To rear a child is an awesome responsibility. I remember at the age of 6 that my nephew and I took my father’s car apart. We got into his tool box. If the car had a screw, a bolt or a nut, it was removed. He didn’t handle the sight of his car very well.
God had plans for a special child to be born, Samson. Philistines were over-running the Hebrew people. God wanted a man that was spiritual and committed to Him. Here was this special couple who had been childless, but could give great love and attention to a child. So God granted their prayers for a child.
“He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the one who talked to my wife?” “I am,” he said. So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?” The angel of the Lord answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.”
Samson was reared a Nazirite, which meant that he could drink no wine, eat meat, cut his hair or touch anything unclean. By honoring that he was given super human strength.
It is not only challenging to rear any child, it is more challenging to rear Christian children. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (PRO 22:6)How do we do that training? The gift of the Holy Spirit is essential – God has to be a part of the plan. However, as parents I find there are three important ingredients that we can do to insure that our children grow up Christians.
Children need to know that they are loved! Nothing can replace the kisses, hugs and saying “I love you.” Every human being needs affection. I am amazed at the number of moms and dads that can not, will not give their children hugs and kisses. We seem to be uptight about sexual misconduct – what is appropriate. Hug that child – even if they are a teenager. Kiss them and tell that child you love them. You can’t show too much affection to a child. Most teenagers that become sexually active, do it because of their need for affection. Children learn affection or the lack of it from their parents. We even learn how to love God by what we learn in our families. Affection sometimes means correcting a child. A mother was concerned that her eldest son was using profanity, and she consulted with the pastor for advice. The preacher advised that each time the boy cursed, she slap him. The next morning as her sons came to the table, she asked what they wanted for breakfast. The eldest said, “I want some ‘blankety-blank’ Post Toasties, and the mother slapped him. As he sat dazed on the floor, mother turned to the younger son and asked what he wanted for breakfast, to which he replied, “Well, I sure don’t want any Post Toasties!” Affection sets boundaries for children and they understand it as love.
“An enormous lack – is a moral purpose, and a lot of our children here aren’t getting that. They’re getting parents who are very concerned about getting them into the right colleges, buying the best clothing for them, giving them an opportunity to live in neighborhoods where they’ll lead fine and affluent lives and where they can be given the best toys, go on interesting vacations, and all sorts of things. Parents work very hard these days; and they’re acquiring things that they feel are important for their children. And yet vastly more important things are not happening. They’re not spending time with their children, at least not very much. Paul writes, Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21) Parenthood is more than providing food, clothing and a house. It is sharing time.
The Psalmist writes, We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. (Psa 78:4) It was important for Manoah and his wife to train Samson to be a believer. A Christian doesn’t just happen. A Christian must be grown. As parents we take our child to church and drop them off. That is no where near as important as you training that child. The child will learn a great deal by going to Sunday school and church but the child will learn more about being a Christian by living in your home. Paul writes, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. The Old Testament called on the parent, especially the father to teach the child the word of God. DEU 6:7 Impress them (Commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. It is important to set a Christian example at home. Read our Bibles. Talk and tell the Christian stories. Pray as a family.
I ran into a little boy and asked him how old he was. “I’m four,” he answered. “When will you be five?” “When I’m through being four.”
Nothing can fully prepare us for what will come in life. So we prepare ourselves with a Christian relationship. Christian parents who give affection, attention and discipleship are far ahead of the game.