The Scriptural Role of Mothers and Fathers

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.

When we put our hand to the plow at baptism it is with the realization that we are now bond-slaves to the Most High God. In other words, our will and labor are subject to His revealed edicts and whatsoever our hand finds to do we must do heartily as to our Master. Many opportunities for service will come our way over the course of a lifetime, but none give such scope for character building and practice of true 'agape' as that of being a parent. It is a most challenging, trying and rewarding service we perform for our Master, and it is truly in His service, for it is our sacred duty to raise up a righteous seed to the Lord. The joy we gain from this service of parenthood is really a bi-product of our progress in this endeavor. In other words, the more we put into it the more we get back in every aspect of our efforts. This is not in line with the common philosophies expounded by the world's authorities on this subject (which tell us it is quality and not quantity of time that matters), so we must be careful that our methods are God-centered and not the current trends that change from generation to generation.

The minute a child is brought into our lives, everything we think, say or do will have an impact on this new life. We have, by becoming parents in the truth, essentially agreed to do all in our power to see that this small being is given every opportunity to be part of God's redemptive plan and the kingdom of God on earth, Lord willing. Any other goal or aspiration we may harbor in our hearts must be recognized as secondary, temporary and altogether unimportant in comparison. Sports, hobbies, higher education also, must be in keeping with this inviolable rule of the house. God must come first on every occasion from the daily schedules to major life choices. Even one exception opens the door for further temptation that can lead to mixed messages in the mind of a child. They are looking to us as a spiritual and moral compass in their lives.

With this responsibility as a 'given', we soon realize that there are many distractions offered by the world which form a veritable mine field to navigate. How fortunate for us that God has given us some very sure footsteps to follow in the pages of His word. We see Abraham as an example, about which God said in Genesis 18:19, For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. The examples throughout scripture are for our admonition and are abundant. They can engender an attitude in us that is pleasing to the Lord and nourishing to a growing family.

Although there is probably no position more maligned and devalued in our society than that of motherhood, the sister in Christ should be impervious to this foolishness. She understands from God's word that the role of caretaker of God's inheritance is a blessed position to attain. Like Hannah with Samuel, there is a realization that these children are lent to us from the Lord and our time of influence and administration is very short. But imagine the joy of witnessing the baptism of this dear child, first with water and at Christ's return with spirit nature. Nothing achieved monetarily or socially could ever compare to that lovely vision, and without that vision for our family and ourselves, we like Israel are subject to perish.

It falls to the mother to regulate the schedules and patterns that form the family dynamic. She should strenuously protect those times set aside for spiritual direction, such as family dinners and daily readings. This is much easier for those sisters who are 'keepers at home' and all efforts should be made to make this possible for as long as possible. Admittedly this is harder than ever in the world we inhabit but the stakes are also higher than ever. If the world is difficult for us, how much more so for our young children should they have to spend precious formative years under the guidance of one unfamiliar with the high calling we attain unto. We must examine ourselves, honestly evaluate our temporal needs and be willing to sacrifice a tremendous amount for the spiritual health and well being of our children. Wouldn't we make any sacrifice necessary to see that they got the best medical attention should they need it? How much more should we invest in their eternal lives?

Fathers are called on to make great sacrifices in constantly providing for and nurturing those for whom they are responsible. It is often a daunting task and the flesh tells us we deserve a break. How happy we are that our heavenly Father is long-suffering to usward and never sleeps or slumbers. His character as revealed to us in Exodus 34:6-7 is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. The spiritual edification, constant example and temporal provisions needed everyday by a growing family is a big job for any young man to take on, but the Bible assures us that the rewards are plentiful both in this life and the age to come, if we strive earnestly to manifest our Heavenly Father's character in all we say and do. Do we not read, A wise son maketh a glad father (Proverbs 10:1), Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; (Psalm 92:13-14) and As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them (Psalm 127:4-5).

We can think of no other arena of our lives so near at hand and vital in which to attempt to manifest the Father, than in being fathers ourselves. God manifestation is something we all aspire to, in part during the days of our sojourn and ultimately in the kingdom age. We are in fact daily in training and longing for the age to come when all the children of the earth will be brought to the ways of Yahweh.

With these thoughts in mind, how important it is for each of us as parents, grandparents and elders in the ecclesia to step up to our responsibilities, recognizing the fleeting nature of all worldly accomplishments. We are compelled to put forward our best effort to labor diligently at that most sacred responsibility to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Dan and Becky Stanton, Orlando, FL