I have been teaching from the book of Ephesians in our morning service for several weeks … months, actually. Last Sunday, I shared from Ephesians 6:1-4, which addresses children’s obedience and parental responsibilities.
As I studied for my presentation, I remembered many conversations with frustrated parents. A number of them shared that they had all but given up on their children.
Some of them asked if I believed that their efforts were really worthwhile. They wondered if they had actually made a difference.
We need to be careful to preface even biblical promises and precepts by reminding people that though we try to do right, there is no guarantee that things will turn out right. There is always that nasty little business of free will and everyone, even our children (sometimes it might seem, especially our children) have and utilize that freedom of choice.
Nevertheless, it’s always right to do right and to live right … and I definitely believe that parents make a difference. Both scripture and practical/historical evidence affirms the fact that parental teaching and example is influential.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, credit goes to the influence of Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice with Timothy’s salvation. This young man was mentored by and travelled with the apostle Paul and he later became the pastor of Ephesus.
Psalm 103:17 says, “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.”
Proverbs 13:22 adds, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children …”
You can probably see why these have become two of my favourite passages since I’ve become a grandfather.
From a practical and historical angle, an investigation into the famous 18th century revival preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) showed that of 1,394 known descendants, 100 became preachers and missionaries, another 100 practised law, 80 became public officials, 75 were officers in the army or navy, 65 taught in colleges, 60 were medical doctors, 60 of them published books, 30 were judges, 13 became college presidents, three were senators and one became a U.S. vice-president.
In contrast, Edwards’s contemporary, Max Jukes, had 310 descendants who died in abject poverty, 150 were convicted criminals, 100 became hopeless drunkards, seven committed murder, and 50 per cent of his female offspring became prostitutes.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother, which is the first commandment, with a promise so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)
Keep training and instructing, parents — it makes a difference!
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.