Raising Children for the King Part 2
The Father has ultimate responsibility for disciplining us as His children, and that also needs to be respected in our family unit. Other people randomly disciplining God’s children is an offense. Likewise, other people randomly disciplining children in a physical family is a violation. The reason why is because God has given the parents the ultimate responsibility. He has given them the ultimate place of understanding so that the carnal things might be purged out. It is very easy for someone who is not right there with the child, who doesn’t know his character to break the bruised reed. For someone who doesn’t know what they are struggling with and what they have already been through, it is easy to snuff out the smoldering wick. Some children are fragile, yet they don’t seem fragile to somebody who doesn’t know them very well. You may know the law, but you may not know the mercy and the grace and how to implement that.
Legislative Authority vs. Executive Authority
There are times when God gives us the ability to delegate responsibility to discipline His children. It says in Hebrews 13:17 to obey your leaders—those who have the rule over you in the church. They watch for your souls. Obey them; make their work easy. Make it a joy. It wouldn’t benefit you at all if they were not filled with joy in their work. You will be the one who suffers. Obey those who have the rule over you. The implication, as a representative contrasting picture of two words, is that God has all legislative authority, the “outermost point of authority or rule,” arche or authenteo. But He gives exousia, which is the implementation or the ability to execute, to His people. He has given the executive authority to His people.
So, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces is the chief executive officer, the President. He can go out and implement, exousia. But the Congress, those are the legislators, that is arche. They make the laws; the President enforces it. It’s a checks and balances kind of thing. God gives law; we don’t make law. God makes all law in heaven and on earth. All law has been given by Him. We have no right to make new law, but God did give us authority. But, that authority is a delegated authority. It is an executive authority to execute what God has said. It is an authority to bind on earth what we see has been bound in heaven, as Peter was told. That also can happen in families.
Use Your Resources
If I give you responsibility for my children, I can say, “Children, I’ve given this person authority to bind what she knows has been bound in this family, and to loose what she knows has been loosed in this family. She has executive authority. I’ve delegated to her authority to execute discipline.” But that is on a case-by-case basis. It’s not a random thing where everyone can go grab executive authority any time they feel like it. That is something that has to come out of the mind of the lawgiver. And in the microcosm that is in the family, it must come from the parents where arche legislative authority is granted. Parents get their legislative authority from God. The parents should be saying to the person who is watching the children, “Here is the limit of the authority that I give to you. I give you total authority to do whatever you want...I give you authority to discipline to this level....I give you authority to watch them and report to me and I will give all discipline.”
The parent has to be the one to decide at what level this authority is delegated to those who would execute that authority. There needs to be clarification in your household with your children as to what level you intend for others to execute the authority that you have legislated, arche.
Ultimately, it is the parent who must be responsible to utilize all the resources towards the one end of manifesting the law of sowing and reaping along with an expression of grace. Those two things working together must be clear. There has to be communication and a vision of “the big picture.”
Be Discerning, But Don’t “Overlook”
What happens on a case-by-case basis is going to have to be decided in each particular family situation. Some children are bruised reeds that are easily broken. Others have strong self-will and they need the consistency of every person that ever crosses their path disciplining them the same way the parent would. Some children need that, and some others couldn’t handle that without crashing and burning. Fathers, make sure that you don’t embitter your children, says the Word of God. Don’t go past that line and break the bruised reed. That doesn’t really give you an answer of what to do tomorrow, but it will at least give you a route to pursue to find out what the right thing is on a case-by-case basis.
I don’t know if I’ve ever spanked another child in the church here. I might have, but I can’t remember doing it. That wouldn’t even necessarily be wrong if the parent has legislated and given the executive authority to do that. That might be perfectly okay. But I’m saying in my case what I do is I talk to them when they violate something that is clear. Three times in the last day and a half I have sat down with different children and said, “What you have done violates the law of your parents. I know that for a fact. It violates the law of God, and there is no way you are going to get away with this. Your sins will find you out and you need to know that. You need to see the law of God and the justice of God. One of these days you are going to recognize that there is a Messiah who you are in tremendous need of because of the sinfulness of your heart.” I just talk to them about it and point them towards the Messiah. I may not discipline them, but what I won’t do is overlook it. I cannot overlook it in my child or anyone else’s child. I may not be the hand that spanks them, but I will not overlook it. Somehow or another I will communicate it to their parents or I will talk to them face to face.
Sometimes I know full well that the little ones don’t understand a word that I am saying, but I am not going to overlook it. I can’t overlook it in any of you. And you had better not overlook it in me. And we are not going to overlook it in our children either! Even age two isn’t too young to be hearing about the promise of a Messiah, His redemption, and the blessed hope of His return. The creation which groans in expectation is awaiting His return. The sons of God are waiting to be manifest. All of these glorious things are things that even a two year old is not too young to begin to hear. They can begin to know there is help—“I’m disciplining you now because of justice, but there is hope because of Jesus.”
Not A Parent?
Paul was not a parent, but he sure knew a lot about parenting. The reason he knew a lot about parenting was because he knew God the Father and he knew how God the Father related to him and how God the Father related to Jesus Christ. He saw the manifold wisdom of God and Jesus and could incorporate that into microcosms. He knew a lot about marriage because he knew a lot about Jesus and the Church, the Bride of Christ. So, you can know through spiritual principle things that you can have no way of knowing by experience. Most of our experiences are deceptive anyway because they are based on faulty premise and bad training. We are better off going to the source for understanding than having experience, which is probably bad experience anyway. There is hope for the future.
You Are Your Brother’s Keeper
The very nature of God’s heart is that we are our brothers’ keepers. It’s not an unfair request on anyone’s part that others be involved in helping raise their children. Using the resources and gifts that God has given you to help raise your children is RIGHT and GOOD. The things that we call frustrations (and I will say this by way of warning) sometimes we say, “I don’t understand” or “I’m frustrated by this and I don’t know what to do.” Be very careful that it is not a cop-out because you are too lazy to get involved. You don’t want to think about it. You don’t want to discern what is going on, you don’t want to be involved, you don’t want to be bothered, so “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to handle this, so get it out of my way.” If you say that enough times no one wants you to watch their children, so you get off the hook. No one wants you to be around their children because you are not displaying the character of Jesus and it’s a bad influence. That’s one way for you not to be bothered by it. Be very careful that you take your responsibility before God very seriously. Whoever receives one of these children because of Me—receives Me and receives the Father. That’s definitely an indication and motivation to get involved. Just saying, “I don’t know what to do” doesn’t really eliminate that whole area of “if you DON’T receive them you are not receiving Him or His Father.”
Even if I don’t have a whole lot of understanding about all of this, that doesn’t eliminate my responsibility to learn more, to grow, and to implement what God does show me. Don’t allow a lack of perfect understanding to cause you to cop out in your relationships and in the opportunities you have to serve God by serving His children, big or small.
Question: Can you give another example of getting involved?
In one city, there was a family who physically speaking had no hope for having a child. That child never should have been born. Physically his mother was barren and there was no hope in that regard. Then, when the child was born, he didn’t breathe for six minutes! Medically it seemed he should have been brain-damaged, yet he wasn’t. Everything about his birth was very special. But now, he’s a pain in the neck to his parents! He is very strong-willed. You pick him up and he is going the other way before you even have him in your hands. He’s just that way—very, very selfish. He was constantly up through the night demanding his rights even as an infant. Some children aren’t like that, but he was a wild one.
I had told the mother (before she had lost a year of her life) that what she needed to do was to make sure her child had his physical needs met, put him in his room, close the door, and come out and spend time with Jesus. Because if she didn’t do that, she would end up paying a tremendous price for it. And so would he. She thinks she is serving him, but in the end, what she is really doing is destroying him. She needed to learn how to let him cry, and she didn’t learn that lesson until a long time into the situation. It is still harder for her than it ought to be, but I do know that it is important even for an infant.
I only see this family about once every three months but one time I dared to ask the mother, “Do you trust me enough to let me do something?” She was at her wits’ end and said, “Yes, go ahead.” So I took her son in my lap (he was just an infant), held him, gave him a kiss, and true to form within 15 seconds he wanted down. So, I held him, talked to him, and determined for principle’s sake that I was not going to let go of him until he yielded his will. He got madder and madder and screamed and screamed! His mother had never done that. If it was the middle of the night—snap, she was there. Anything he wanted—he got. It destroyed her spiritual life, or at least took a tremendous toll on it. She couldn’t pray, she couldn’t read the bible; she couldn’t share her life with anyone else. She couldn’t even get dressed until 2:00 in the afternoon sometimes! It totally wiped her out because he mastered the household.
That day that I held him I knew for sure that his diaper was changed, and I knew that he was fed. I knew that he wasn’t going to die and that all his physical needs were met. I held him. And while he was screaming, crying, fighting, and turning bright red—I sang to him, hugged him, kissed on him, and let him know that I loved him. This went on for 45 minutes. I just kept singing. : ) He knew I loved him and that there was no resentment in my heart. I made sure he knew that. There was no anger, no hostility, no “you dumb little kid, how dare you do that.” There was no reaction in me, it was just love. And then, FINALLY, he relaxed and smiled at me. Do you want to know what I did after that? I IMMEDIATELY set him down. The point is that I didn’t let him down until he gave me his will.
We’ve been through that many times since then, with him and others. The point in which I can give in is when they yield their will. As soon as the child stops being angry (or is just too tuckered out to keep being angry), I go right to them and hug them. But I won’t ever feed their flesh. I won’t ever give in to the demands of the flesh. I’m not talking about their true physical needs, but that carnal nature that demands their rights. Even as an infant, it makes a tremendous difference.
One Last Thought...
If viewing the children in the ways that we have been talking about is the will of God, then it’s not only necessary to implement, but it’s also a responsibility and a trust to go forth and multiply and fill the earth. Not just observe it, not just to recognize it, not just to amen, not even just to do it. But it’s the will of the Lord to propagate it because we are ambassadors of reconciliation between God and man, so keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open as to how you might serve with the Word of God to others around you as the months and years go on. If you are a child of God, you are a priest, and he who has been given a trust must prove faithful.