The people of the church often reference the providence of God. His providence refers to all the good God determines to direct our way.
But, what we too often fail to realize is just how providential is the devil. He has much evil to direct our way, and he is very subtle in getting people to participate with his offers of satisfactions and pleasures, particularly as it involves our kids.
As parents, we need to be on guard about the evil influences with which our kids are consistently confronted. They are daily confronted to do things and to consume things that literally opens them up for the devil to lead their lives through a life-long downward spiral of bitter experiences and unhappiness. If they yield early-on to accepting the providence provided by the devil, it very well may rob them of fulfilling their God-given human potential.
How is it that we parents can hope to deal with the devil’s appealing providence to influence our children to participate in evil actions? Primarily, parents must be good at putting the right kind of stuff in front of our kids to countermand what the devil puts in front of our kids. It is clear that he works through manifold peer pressures. And, one of the best ways to put the right kind of stuff in front of our kids is by way of good teaching. Actually, good parenting expects good teaching.
For example, parents must put in front of children good teaching that emphasizes making choices that are right and good. Teach them the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. Start when they are young. Times will be, when we are not present with them, that they will be confronted with decisions concerning evil influences. Children need to know that when away from our immediate guidance we expect them to make the right choices.
Second (and whether you like it or not), parents should put in front of their children good teaching that the right choices are always supported in the outlined principles and morals of the Bible. Teach them that God’s Word provides a guideline for blessed, God’s providence-based life. There are many examples Scripturally cited of those who were blessed because of the decisions they made on the basis of God’s Word. After all, the absolute truths of God always provide the best guidance for decision-making. You can take that to the bank!
It is not that you take the Bible and pound them over the head with it. Neither, that you try to ram Bible truths down their throats. You do not use the Bible to threaten with fire and damnation. Rather, you show them, you tell them, you put it before them as a parent concerned for their well-being. You communicate that God loves them, and wants the best for their lives.
(The only force I ever put to our sons about doing wrong is, “As long as I live, you will have to deal with me.” So far so good.)
Third, parents must put in front of their kids good teaching that is diligent. That means we must teach and re-teach, say it and repeat it, go over it again and again. Why? Because critical truths are generally not assimilated in a single session. The Scripture emphasizes this point. Concerning His Commandments, God said, “You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
Fourth, parents must put in front of their kids good teaching that is exemplified by righteous example. It prevails upon us that as parents we be consistent righteous models for our children. Saying “do not do as I do but as I say” is not good. It is more effective to live out what you teach. In others words, “practice what you preach.”
Being a good parental teacher does not always produce automatic results. It does not work out with some, I know. But, better to put good teaching into the mix of life than to not. There is a promise from Scripture, however, onto which we can hold. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and, when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
In the mean time, good teaching is expected of good parents. It is the Lord who can get the results in due course.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.