Rev. denHartog is pastor of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan. Previous article in this series: September 15, 2009, p. 495.
Home is the place where children grow up together and must learn to live with each other in true godliness. Often there are both boys and girls growing up together. There are different ages and different stages of development that children go through. There are many different experiences, both joys and sorrow, trials and difficulties, as well as by the grace of God success and progress and developments.
Our children are conceived and born in sin. They are sinners just like their parents. Though they can bring great joy they can also bring great sorrow, disappointment, and even grief to their parents. How all of this is dealt with in the covenant home will affect the godliness of the children.
Even covenant homes and families can be greatly distressed and divided by sibling rivalry and strife. This must not be allowed to continue as a norm or as an inevitable part of family living. Children must be admonished to repent of the sins of pride, self-seeking, and strife that are the cause of this sibling rivalry. They must in their daily lives in their covenant homes be taught the virtues of godly humility, forbearance, mercy, and forgiveness. Children must be taught true concern, respect, and honor of their own brothers and sisters in the home. The evils of pride and selfishness, meanness and cruelty must be uprooted from their lives. Children in the home must learn not to care only for the things of themselves but also for the things of others. The evils of demanding always to be the center of attention and always wanting to be first in everything must be dealt with as sins that must be repented of. Parents must be examples of godly virtue in their every behavior. We must show our children that we are humble and ready to sacrifice ourselves for others, and not be proud and self-seeking and demanding and unloving.
True godliness for our children requires instruction concerning morality, purity, and holiness in their daily lives. We live in a horribly immoral world. This dreadful immorality must be severely condemned with the Word of God. Our children must be taught to be separate from every form of this immorality, in their speech, in their behavior, and even in their dress. Who will deny that the world is becoming worse and worse. Immorality for the world is the source of much of its entertainment and is the reason for much of its laughter. Modern-day inventions give the world greater potential to enter into our homes and corrupt our families.
Parents especially are responsible for teaching children to have a godly and biblical perspective regarding sexual morality. If they do not instruct their children in this area, their children will learn from the world and be corrupted by the world. If parents themselves are reading books and magazines that are immoral, or watching television programs with immoral scenes and consider these to be legitimate forms of entertainment, we can be sure that the hearts of their children will be corrupted right in their own covenant home. In our modern time we must carefully supervise the use of the Internet and other electronic devices in our home, being fully aware of the potential evil these pose for our homes. We must teach our children in all their behavior, and even in their dress, to be modest and pure. In many cases the mothers and fathers of the world are guilty of encouraging the unholy excitement of immodesty in the dress of their own children. It is part of the worldly pride they take in their children.
In our covenant homes we must teach our children to honor highly the sanctity and beauty of marriage. Our own marriages must be a pattern for our children to follow. Father and mother must show their children from day to day how they honor, respect, and serve one another in marriage in the role God has given them. The example of the love and faithfulness of father and mother to each other in marriage will have a very great influence on the children as they grow up in our families. It will do much to create an atmosphere of security, personal warmth, peace, and happiness in the covenant home.
Right attitudes regarding material possessions and the possessions of the neighbor are an important part of true godliness in the covenant home. Fathers and mothers must be honest and upright in their daily lives and in all of their business dealings. Obedience to the law of God is finally more important than making lots of money. Covetousness and greed are among the most frequently condemned sins in the Word of God. These sins are often condemned at the same time and with the same severity as the sins of uncleanness and fornication. Materialism often robs the covenant home of true spirituality. Greed and envy and jealousy are condemned by the eighth commandment. Our children see the possessions of the children of other families and imagine that they must have the same toys, clothes, sports equipment, and, later in life, cars and expensive recreational equipment. This becomes a consuming passion for them. The biggest danger in most American homes is not that they suffer for not having enough but rather that the abundance most of us have in life causes us to glory in mere things and boast in ourselves. The Lord often warned Israel against this in their lives.
The ninth commandment requires truthfulness and sincerity. It forbids slander, evil speaking, and harsh judgment of the neighbor. Gossip is a dreadful and destructive evil in the world’s society. Children often learn such behavior in their homes and families. Dinner-table conversations often involve gossip and slander and evil speaking concerning the neighbor. Parents who constantly engage in this evil will find that their children will do the same, beginning even when they are still small children.
Let us talk about the law of God with our children in our covenant homes from morning till evening. Let us write the precepts of the Lord on the walls and posts of our homes and bind them as signs on our hands, guiding all the labors of our hands. Let us make the precepts of the law of God the ornaments of grace on our foreheads, which make us truly glorious and beautiful unto the Lord our God. So may our homes be truly covenantal, spiritual, and radically different from the world. Then our homes and families will be blessed of God, which is a greater good than anything in this world.