Mrs. Reeta Jones sits comfortably before a class of curious teenagers who ask her many questions about what it’s like to be 105 years old. A petite 113 pounds, with short, white hair, she lives on the campus of a small, Christian academy in Tennessee. Although she lives alone, she still gardens, raises flowers and vegetables, cooks, and cans her vegetables. At lunch time she gets into her golf cart and putts over to the academy cafeteria to eat with the young people who affectionately call her “Ma Jones.”
She still remembers walking home from school around the age of seven, when a woman in a noisy, “big black thing” drove up behind her and asked her if she wanted a ride. The “big black thing” petrified little Reeta back then because she had never seen a Model-T Ford.
Who would have dreamed that Reeta, born in 1898, would live through parts of three centuries, through two world wars, have six children, seventeen grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and four great, great grandchildren?
She attributes her long life to many things: she’s been a vegetarian for 70 years, never smoked or drank alcohol, believes in God, and attends church faithfully. But Ma Jones also reminds her young listeners of another important factor in her longevity. “I obeyed my parents,” she told them.
The fifth commandment states, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12. And Paul admonishes the young, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20. Mrs. Jones is a living testimony of God’s promise to bless children who honor and respect their parents, and to bless parents who properly raise their children.
A Heritage From God
1. How does God view children? Psalm 127:3
2. What happened to the life of Adam and Eve after the Fall? Genesis 4:1, 2
3. What happened to Abraham and Sarah when they were beyond their child-bearing years? Genesis 21:2
4. What special vow did Hannah make to God, and how did He answer her prayer? 1 Samuel 1:11, 19, 20
Since the beginning, God has allowed human beings to have children. But having children is a privilege, not a right. Children are a special gift from God, and He expects parents to handle them with special care.
1. Before bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan, what instruction did God give them? Deuteronomy 6:1, 6, 7; 11:19
2. What counsel is given by Solomon the Wise? Proverbs 22:6
3. What specific directions were given to the parents of John the Baptist before he was born? Luke 1:13–17
When God has special plans for the lives of certain children, like Samuel and John the Baptist, He gives their parents specific instructions on how to raise these children.
1. What do children naturally have in their hearts? Proverbs 22:15(a)
2. How should this problem be corrected? Proverbs 22:15(b)
3. Why is it necessary for parents to use “the rod” to punish a child? Isn’t that being mean? Proverbs 23:13, 14
4. What happens to children who are not properly corrected? Proverbs 29:15
Modern child psychology teaches that children should not be spanked. But for Christian parents, physical discipline to correct their children is biblical and proper. However, this should never be done out of anger or impulse.
Christian parents should make every effort to first correct their children through mild methods, like reasoning and praying with them. Patiently and kindly, lead them to recognize their own wrong-doing. And in many cases this will be sufficient. But if this fails, as a last resort, the “rod” may be used, after parental passion has subsided.
1. What are the responsibilities of children to their parents and why? Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20
2. What should parents, especially fathers, keep in mind in relating to their children? Colossians 3:21
3. When a loving Christian mother properly trains and disciplines her children, how will the children and husband generally treat her? Proverbs 31:28
4. What happens to children whose parents have integrity? Proverbs 20:7
Jesus and the Children
1. How did the disciples treat the mothers who brought their children to Jesus? Mark 10:13
2. What was Jesus’ response to these children? Matthew 19:14, 15; Mark 10:14, 16
“Jesus was ever a lover of children…. Wherever the Savior went, the benignity of his countenance, and His gentle, kindly manner won the love and confidence of children…. He knew that these children would listen to Him and accept Him as their Redeemer far more readily than grown-up people, many of whom were worldly-wise and hard hearted” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 511, 517).
Special Promises for Parents and Children
1. What special commendation does the Bible give about grandchildren? Proverbs 17:6
2. What did Malachi prophesy would happen to parents, especially fathers, and their children before the Second Coming? Malachi 4:5, 6
3. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, what will children be doing when the earth is made new? Isaiah 11:6, 8
4. What is the greatest joy that any Christian parent can experience? 3 John 4
God allows Christian parents to have children as a special heritage, to be properly raised for His service. Parents who cooperate with God, training and disciplining their children according to biblical standards, will be richly blessed. Children who respect, honor, and obey their parents will be richly blessed also. Most of all, our homes—the foundation of any society—and our communities will benefit from faithful Christian families.
As a parent, I will pray and ask God for grace to raise my children according to His standards. As a child, I will give due honor and respect to my parents and will, with God’s help, obey them.
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