When the brothers of Joseph journeyed to Egypt in search of grain, they never dreamed they would see their long lost brother whom they had sold into slavery many years before. Their younger brother was now second in command in Egypt and adorned in Pharaoh's royal raiment and gold chains.
While unknown to his brothers, he accused them of being spies and threw them into prison (Genesis 42). As these boys "simmered" in jail, they remembered the cruelty they had shown Joseph when he pleaded for his life. Reuben reminded them how he had warned them to "not sin against the child," but they had refused to listen (Gen. 42:22, KJV). Though it had been many years since they sold their brother, their "sin against the child" still haunted them. The lingering consequences of sin remained years after the act itself.
Parents today often sin against their own children. The effect of their sin is not always immediate. Sometimes it takes years to see the consequences of sin. But, as Paul warned the Galatians, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).
Esau sold his birthright for "one morsel of food" (Gen. 25:29-34). The Hebrew writer tells us when Esau wanted to inherit his father's blessing "he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears" (Heb. 12:17). Those who sin against their children will regret it later. Though rivers of water flow down their cheeks, it will be too late.
When parents withhold corrective discipline, they sin against their children. Solomon said "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24). This is a very strong statement, but we have God's assurance it is true. Parents who do not discipline their children hate them! Many parents think letting a child "do his own thing" is healthy. God says the parents are guilty of child neglect.
One application of this can be made in the public assembly. In nearly every congregation there are children who are unruly during worship services. Some parents claim they love their children too much to spank them. The truth of the matter is they are showing hatred towards their own flesh and blood. When a child disrupts the public worship service, they need to be taken out and disciplined immediately (whether they are a toddler or a teenager). It might take a few times before the child catches on to the "cause and effect," but in time they will learn if the discipline is prompt, loving and consistent.
Solomon also admonished parents to "chasten your son while there is hope, and do not let set your heart on his destruction" (Prov. 19:18). He gave parents hope when he said, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). Timothy is a great example of one who was properly trained as a child, and did not depart from God's way (2 Timothy 1:5).
Parents can also sin against their children by setting a poor example before them. Parents who are lax in their attendance not only harm themselves, but their children as well (Hebrews 10:25). Children need to see their parents put the Lord first (Ephesians 6:1-4).
Children must see that their parents love not only them, but also each other. Someone has said, "The best way to be a good father to your children is to be a good husband to their mother." Several young married couples have told me they had problems in their marriage because they never saw their parents express any love or concern for each other. Children need to know their parents are madly in love with each other. It is possible the only virtuous marriage your children will observe is in your home. They will never learn how to have a happy marriage from watching TV or reading their high school class books!
Another way we can sin against our children is by failing to teach them the will of God. The ultimate responsibility for this teaching rests with the father (Ephesians 6:4). Many parents today have abdicated their responsibility. Parents in the days of Moses were commanded to teach God's word diligently to their children and "talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:7). Let me suggest several things you should teach your children.
Instruct your children to enjoy life (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 22; 5:19), but remind them all of their life is overshadowed by the judgment. "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment" (Ecclesiastes 11:9).
Educate your children on the permanency of marriage. Remind them God intends their marriage to be "till death do you part." His laws are so strict that He has only allowed one reason for a married person to put away their spouse and marry another, i.e. sexual immorality (Matthew 19:1-9; 5:32).
Children also need to learn respect for civil authority (Romans 13:1-7). Parents who flaunt the laws of the land will raise rebellious children. Along with respect for government, children need to appreciate God's command that "if a man won't work, neither should he eat" (2 Thes. 3:10). A lazy man can not be a faithful Christian. All honest work is honorable to God. It does not make any difference if you're the president of General Motors or if you dig ditches for a living. God wants you to labor and earn your pay.
Parents, let's strive to raise godly children. The future of the Lord's church and the future of this nation depend on it. The responsibility is ours, not elders, preachers or the public school system. Never give up hope and continue to pray that God through His word will teach us how to bring up our children "in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord"