6 “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (Hebrews 12:6–8, NKJV)
The word “chasten” means discipline, and this passage leaves no doubt that properly applied discipline (instruction and correction) includes momentary pain which is intended to yield positive results (Hebrews 12:6, 9-11). The rod of discipline is not a rod of abuse (although that is how the world portrays it). Just as the world resists the Lord’s corrective discipline (although it beneficial), it also resists God’s word that teaches parents to use it as one aspect of training their children. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Children need training to mature properly. To discipline them is a mark of parental love. To withhold needed discipline from a child is not love. The child who refuses and despises parental discipline is rebellious. The Christian who refuses and despises God’s discipline is also rebellious. Thus, we are exhorted to “be in subjection” to our Father’s discipline so we may partake of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. (Matthew 19:13–15, NKJV)
Children provide a beautiful portrait of those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs. Children are open, honest and enthusiastic. They are trusting, humble and innocent. So, it is not surprising that Jesus said unless we are “converted and become as little children” we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Yet, here we find His disciples rebuking people for bringing children to Jesus for His blessing. With a gentle reminder Jesus reinforced that we must never hinder those who come to Him for His blessing. Just as Jesus readily received the children, God readily receives every sinner who comes to Him with a child’s heart of faith, anxious to please Him with humble conversion and obedience (Acts 3:19; Matthew 7:21). It is completely out of character for a Christian to become a stumbling block to someone seeking Christ’s blessing (Matthew 18:4-6). Let us be sure we are always helping people come to Christ and never hindering them.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15, NKJV)
While God has always exalted motherhood, it is not held in the high esteem it once was. It has taken a severe hit due to the rise of feminism, and its unisex agenda. However, the facts continue to bear out what common sense tells us: The interaction of a mother with her child is crucial to the child’s development. Wall Street Journal journalist James Taranto recently reported on the findings of New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar: “Mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” says Komisar, in her book, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters” (“The Politicization of Motherhood,” James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 27, 2017). Citing neuroscientist Nim Tottenham, of Columbia University, Komisar notes “that babies are born without a central nervous system,” and that “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth” (Ibid). Mothers help their children learn to interact with their world. You have a work that only you are equipped to accomplish. Young mother, do not be discouraged when the world disparages you for doing your work. You are doing God’s work, and you and your child are blessed for it.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… (1 John 3:10–11, NKJV)
There are obvious differences between the children of God, and the children of the devil. This passage expresses those differences negatively. The person who does not practice righteousness, and the one who does not love his brother, is “not of God.” This is entirely consistent with the apostle’s declaration in Acts 10:35, that “whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Practicing righteousness is equivalent to practicing truth, and walking in the light (1 John 1:6-7). Christians live their profession of faith by walking in truth, otherwise, they are “not of God,” and are without God’s approval. For you see, it is sin not to practice righteousness (1 John 3:7-8; James 4:17). As we practice righteousness, we must love our brethren, even as Jesus commanded from the beginning (1 John 13:34-35). The devil’s children do not practice righteousness or brotherly love. To them, these are unnecessary for God’s acceptance. It is a great deception to say how one lives as a Christian does not impact one’s divine approval now, and eternally. May we practice righteousness, and love our brethren. By this, we know we are of God.
15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
In Luke’s narrative, Jesus had just told the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, exposing the sin of judgmental self-righteousness, while honoring the humble heart that pleases God (Lk. 18:9-14). A real-life illustration now follows, demonstrating the humility required to receive and enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were rebuking people who brought their small children, including infants, to Jesus to be blessed. Jesus was “greatly displeased” with the disciples’ conduct (Mark 10:13-14). The kingdom of God is composed of those with the innocent humility of children (Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14). Not only does this passage destroy the false doctrine of inheriting original sin, it also establishes the heart condition one must have to be saved. The Lord will not bless the arrogant, self-righteous person with redemption. Be careful with what heart you try to follow Jesus. It is the one with the heart of a child who receives the kingdom, and hence, the Lord’s eternal blessing.
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (Ephesians 4:14–15, NKJV)
Maturity in Christ equips us to achieve and maintain the “the unity of the faith” to which we have been called by the gospel. Christ gave the work of inspired men (through which that gospel came to earth from heaven), and the work of uninspired men (who continue to proclaim and teach the gospel) to thoroughly equip us to serve the will of God as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). In today’s text, our spiritual maturity prevents us from being tossed about like children by the prevailing winds of false doctrine. The “trickery of men” describes the sleight of hand by which one defrauds another. False doctrine defrauds and plunders the unsuspecting of their spiritual treasure (Colossians 2:8). The “cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” describes the deceptive method of sophistry that attacks the simplicity of the gospel of Christ (Romans 16:17-18). As our maturity in Christ protects us, it also enables us to speak the truth in love. God’s truth equips us to grow in Christ, while protecting us from spiritual danger, and securing our standing with Christ (the Head of the church). Let us determine to grow up in Christ by becoming strong in the truth.
If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. (1 Timothy 5:16, NKJV)
Family is the first line of provision and protection for the elderly. Just as God gave the family structure to take care of children, family also has the responsibility to care for their older members. Jesus severely rebuked the Pharisees for not taking care of their parents by falsely claiming their duty was complete when they had devoted their goods to God (Mk. 9:7-13). Today’s verse makes a difference between who the local church is charged to relieve, and those for whom the family has primary charge. The church is not to be charged with the ongoing care of widows (and widowers) who have Christian children. They bear the first responsibility. The church has its own charge; those widows who do not have children to care for them. God’s plan works, when we honor God, and our parents who need our care.
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10, NKJV)
It has been said that God has no grandchildren. That is, every generation must hear, learn and come to know the Lord for itself. The faith of parents does not transfer to children by osmosis or by proximity. It happens through deliberate training that is instructive and corrective (Eph. 6:4). Israel was to teach the word of the Lord diligently to their children in order to equip them to be faithful and blessed (Deut. 6:7-13; 11:18-23). Children live what they learn. The secular influences around them are teaching them many things that are against the will and word of God. Your children need consistent teaching from God’s word to help them develop their own faith, so they can choose to serve Jesus and His gospel. And, they need to see you being faithful to Christ and His gospel. Speaking truth to them, but not living the truth before them, will hinder them from choosing to know God and His salvation.
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–4, NKJV)
Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is not defined by prominence above others, or by power over others, or by preference before others. Greatness is defined by humility, such as is seen in a little child. By these words, Jesus thoroughly rejects the notion that we are born with a “sin nature,” a corruption that originated in Adam and is transmitted through his progeny to all of humanity. If we must “be converted and become as little children,” then little children do not possess corrupt hearts. Otherwise, Jesus’ analogy is meaningless. The child stands as the prototype for greatness in the kingdom. Those who are great in the kingdom are not driven by a sin nature. Like children, they are driven by the innocence of humility. Any doctrine that corrupts the innocence and humility of children before God and mankind is false and deplorable error.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, NKJV)
Fathers have a supreme responsibility of guiding the instruction and rearing of their children. Fatherless homes are not God’s norm, for it is God’s will that fathers lead in educating their sons and daughters in the way of the Lord. God gives sound counsel and command to fathers not to exasperate their children to angry outbursts as they train them. Respect cannot be demanded by the father of his children; it must be earned. That requires treating your children with fairness, honesty and the guiding principles of faith from God’s word of truth. Fathers (and mothers) must live their faith before their children as well as teach it to them. And, when necessary, warnings and corrections are in order to train them to make good and righteous choices (Heb. 12:9-10). Our heavenly Father trains us by His word, as well as through the trials of life (Heb. 12:3-11). Such training is an attribute of the Father’s love for us, His children. Like God, fathers who teach and correct their children are showing love for them, while avoiding provocations to wrath.