Volume 11, Issue 1: Childer
It goes without saying, at least in this space, at least by now, that parents are required in Scripture to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). But even though it goes without saying, I nevertheless feel this compulsion to work it in yet again (Phil. 3:1).
This means the first great task confronting parents today is to bring their children up within the covenant, and in such a way as their children feel a life-long loyalty to that covenant. This task addresses the question of whether our children will be Christians after us, and whether they will bring up their children in the Christian faith. But once this question is settled, numerous temptations remain. Of course Christian parents should remember the possibility of failure. But wise parents will remember that temptations also come with success.
Some children unthinkingly accept everything they are taught. Such a child encounters an atheist for the first time, both of them being around eleven years old, and so he says something like, "I suppose you're an evolutionist too. Duh!"
Kids like this have not been taught and discipled, but only successfully propagandized. One of the key marks of such victims of propaganda is their facile readiness to apply the tenets of the faith to others. Those who dispute its doctrines are considered to be simply stupid, those who reject its ethical teachings are the equivalent of cannibalistic axe-murderers, and so on.
Boys brought up in the truth are particularly prone to this. Truth is rigid and unyielding, and is almost as good as a baseball bat for hitting people with. I have seen this happen so frequently with Christian young men that I have decided to name the phenomenon—such should be called thunder puppies.
Jesus once rebuked His disciples because they wanted to declare celestial war, calling down fire from heaven, and yet did not know what spirit they were of. In the same way today, many young men preach beyond their wisdom, and pronounce beyond their years. Boys like to boast anyway, and knowledge puffs up. Brought together, the two propositions provide a dangerous mix.
For another example, how many young Christian men will go on and on about what they will require their (hypothetical) wife to do in this or that situation, and how they will homeschool, and what they will demand of anyone who dares interfere with their sacrosanct household? And compare this to how often they will spend time talking about what they will require of themselves. In short, young Turks are too ready to boast about nonexistent accomplishments.
But the only way a professing Christian can bring himself to boast is by using biblical standards to bring others down (which is easy), and then neglecting to apply them in one's own situation. Future accomplishments must be neglected, of necessity, and by the time the future rolls around, the boaster is accustomed to non-performance.
But to begin with others is not the biblical order. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Gal. 6:1). When another person must be corrected, it is only to be undertaken by those who are spiritual, and they are to make sure of a meek and gentle spirit, watching over their own heart, lest they fall into sin as well. This is a hard task when someone has grown up perpetually disgusted with secular humanists who don't believe the Bible. The disgust often serves as a camo-cover which hides the fact that the young man in question doesn't believe the Bible either-at least not those portions which apply to him.
Of course the world is a sinful place, and we want our young men taught and equipped in such a way as enables them to rise up to battle when the situation calls for it. The Bible teaches us that the glory of young men is their strength. But the contrast is given to the beauty of the old man, which the wisdom of a gray head (Prov. 20:29). That wisdom sees that boasting is never profitable, unless it is in the Lord.
Handled wrongly, a Christian upbringing for a young man can provide many opportunities to show how those darn "other people" do not do what the Bible says.
"Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips" (Prov. 27:1-2).