Beware, Children Watching


By John Thiel, Beholding Christ Series, Audio: mp3

This today is very relevant for this church at this time. In our midst we have developing minds that need more than parental care. We as a church, those that attend here together, have an influence over these lives. We all need to understand God’s way of child training, God’s principles to assure that this church cooperates with the parents’ efforts to train their children. But this divine service is even more specifically for our personal submission to our parents, which are our Heavenly Father and the woman His wife, the church.

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We all are children, children of God. He is our Father and we are being trained by Him.

He promises to be a Father unto you. Oh, what a relationship is this! higher and holier than any earthly tie. If you make the sacrifice, if you have to forsake father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife, and children for Christ’s sake, you will not be friendless. God adopts you into His family; you become members of the royal household, sons and daughters of the King who rules in the heaven of heavens. Can you desire a more exalted position than is here promised? {1T 510.2}

This divine service can also be entitled “Our Relationship with God in Child Training”. Yes, children of God and our children, the younger members of the heavenly family, we are all together under the training of our Heavenly Father. Note carefully the connection of parental training with the Heavenly Father’s training:

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

We are children; we are to obey our parent, our Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Do we comprehend this statement?

God’s method of government is an example of how children are to be trained. {CG 259.1}

Can you see the connection? You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Train them as God trains. The nurture and admonition of the Lord, not mine, not yours, the Lord’s. That’s the meaning. The method of government that God exercises is the method of government which we must exercise in training our family.

Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. {PP 308.2}

What a statement. The relationship that we have with God is inseparably connected with parental training of our children. God Himself has ordained that during the earlier years of life parents shall stand in the place of God to their children, so that the children have no knowledge of God but what parents reflect to them. We are to be in the place of God to those formative year children. We have these kind of children in our midst in which they have no knowledge of God but through us. What a high calling.

God’s Way of Training

What conclusion are we to draw from this to the correct method of child training? We are in the place of God to those children. In other words, if I’m in the place of God over my household, what does that mean? I have to do it as God does it, very simple.

Has the truth taken possession of the souls of fathers and mothers, who stand in the place of God to their children? Is the wisdom which cometh from above sought daily in the family? {HS 286.4}

We are to do the child training as God does the training, exactly the same way. We are to learn from God. We are to study His treatment of us as He prepares us for heaven and then exercise exactly the same treatment to the children.

This is a very important subject. How are we trained as we grow in grace from sin to righteousness? How does God do it? That’s our first point, to examine how it is that God trains us.

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

We are to be born again. And being born again, what are we to do?

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious.

Trained by the Word

How do we become trained? We are trained by becoming babes and drinking the word. And as we drink the word, we grow thereby. Then we grow a little more in the word:

Hebrews 5:13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

How does God train us? He imparts us His word. In fact, we were born by the word. Our adult minds in sin pick up the word and it changes us to newborn babes. Then, as newborn babes we are to drink the milk of the word and, as we grow, to take the more solid meat and continue to exercises ourselves in the word. As we do so, our mind develops.

Our training is under God’s tuition through His word.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As we take hold of the word of God, we will be changed. We will prove and understand God’s perfect will. This revelation of God to our minds is the manner by which we are growing as children do.

As we look at His word, what do we see as we read His word? As we drink the word and then as it becomes more solid, and by reason of use we have our senses exercise, what do we see in the word? This is God’s way of training to us:

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

How are we changed? As we read the word, as we exercise ourselves in the word, something is made manifest to us. What is it? The glory of God, His love, His character, His enormity, His majesty, everything is revealed to our minds. As we gaze upon Him in His word, we are changing. That’s how we are trained. It is because it is a law of our mind. It is the law of every human being’s mind, the brain, that it gradually adapts itself to the subject upon which it is trained to dwell. We are changing into the image of that which we are trained to dwell upon. That’s how God is training us through His word.

Learning by Example

Beholding Christ means studying His life as given in His Word. We are to dig for truth as for hidden treasure. We are to fix our eyes upon Christ. When we take Him as our personal Saviour, this gives us boldness to approach the throne of grace. By beholding we become changed, morally assimilated to the One who is perfect in character. By receiving His imputed righteousness, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we become like Him. The image of Christ is cherished, and it captivates the whole being (Manuscript 148, 1897). {6BC 1098.1}

That’s how we grow up under the training of God. We look at His beautiful character and if we will look, if we will keep our eyes fixed upon that and gaze upon Him, this is what He chooses to train us.

It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which Jesus said He would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. That is, the character of the one who thus beholds Christ is so like His, that one looking at him sees Christ’s own character shining out as from a mirror. Imperceptibly to ourselves we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of His character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect His image. {6BC 1097.5}

This is how God trains us for heaven. This is precisely the way our children will learn from us. It is not by what we command them to do, but by what you are that they will learn. Parents, pick this up. It’s not what you command them but by what you are that they will learn. Look very closely at these little infants. Watch them. Watch somebody else’s child. Just watch that child with his eyes, with his facial body movements and the way it looks very intently upon another person, upon its parent, upon another person in the church. That’s why I am saying: Beware, children watching. They are watching their parents, they are watching us. You look at their eyes, they’re so deep when they’re looking. They’re drinking every movement, every function and every mood that comes from the parent or from the person they’re watching. As they are watching, they are picking up lessons continually. Children become what you as parents are.

Everything leaves its impress upon the youthful mind. The countenance is studied, the voice has its influence, and the deportment is closely imitated by them. Fretful and peevish fathers and mothers are giving their children lessons which at some period in their lives they would give all the world, were it theirs, could they unlearn. {AH 322.2}

What is Sister White saying here? What is the Spirit of Prophecy saying? Our children, as they watch us, in these formative years, are being impressed by the behaviour, deportment and attitude streaming forth from adults. If they are peevish and fretful and whatever else – it says “everything leaves its impress” – then later on those children will want to get rid of some of the things that they’ve picked up. They’ll give all the world if they had it, to be able to get rid of it.

Children must see in the lives of their parents that consistency which is in accordance with their faith. By leading a consistent life and exercising self-control, parents may mold the characters of their children. {AH 322.2}

Isn’t that how God does it? By revealing His personality, His character in His word, we behold that with very fixed eyes and study it closely, like these infants do, and we will be imperceptibly changed into the same image. The children will imperceptibly change. What you and I command them isn’t going to change them. It is what they’re seeing that is going to change them. They become what they see. Our parents and we as older brethren are reflecting to them the character of Jesus? Because that’s what they’re following whether we have it or whether we don’t, they’re going to follow what we impart to them.

Every word, every action, of the parents is to be an object lesson of the right kind. {1NL 93.4}

Every word, every action, the demeanour is to be an object lesson of God to them.

Reverence for the House of God

In reference to reverence in the house of God, the children are being taught by parents to have reverence to the house of God. You can tell them “Be quiet”, you can tell them all sorts of things, but how will they learn? They are watching you, me. They are watching the atmosphere of this place, that’s how they will learn to be reverent.

Here we have the word of God that we are to gaze upon as adults so that, by beholding this picture, by the insight of the Holy Spirit, we can communicate God to them as we train them to have reverence in the house of God.

Parents, elevate the standard of Christianity in the minds of your children; help them to weave Jesus into their experience; teach them to have the highest reverence for the house of God and to understand that when they enter the Lord’s house it should be with hearts that are softened and subdued by such thoughts as these: “God is here; this is His house. I must have pure thoughts and the holiest motives. I must have no pride, envy, jealousy, evil surmising, hatred, or deception in my heart, for I am coming into the presence of the holy God. This is the place where God meets with and blesses His people. The high and holy One who inhabiteth eternity looks upon me, searches my heart, and reads the most secret thoughts and acts of my life.” {5T 494.1}

This is the thought pattern that should govern the children as we are trying to train them into the reverence of God’s house. Can you pick up as the child is watching very closely? What do they see in you and me? If we are trying to get this message across to them, let us read some more of the deportment that is going to affect the children as the parents come into the church and say: “We’re coming into God’s presence now. Be very quiet.” As you tell them to do that, how do you do it? How do we do it when we come into the presence of God in the house of God?

The precincts of the church should be invested with a sacred reverence. It should not be made a place to meet old friends … {5T 493.2}

Oh… where do we meet each other? Here? No, outside. We are here to meet God. And if the children see us communicating with each other to meet each other here, talking together in the church, what are they learning? They think they can talk to each other too because they’re watching you. As we put the finger of the little child’s mouth as it wants to talk, the little child must see that we don’t talk either to each other, apart from what is going on in the exact procedure of that gathering.

When the word is spoken, you should remember, brethren, that you are listening to the voice of God through His delegated servant. Listen attentively. Sleep not for one instant, because by this slumber you may lose the very words that you need most {5T 493.1}

You want to instil this to the child? What must we do? If the child starts looking around and sees somebody sleeping, what impression does that have in the child? When we’re trying to teach the child, listen, quiet, pay close attention.

Satan and his angels are busy creating a paralyzed condition of the senses so that cautions, warnings, and reproofs shall not be heard; {5T 493.1}

So what’s actually coming from the pulpit is being distracted by the hearers?

…or if heard, that they shall not take effect upon the heart and reform the life. {5T 493.1}

As yourself sometimes, as you’ve been asked “What was the sermon about?” have you asked yourself: “Oh, what was it about?” Why? You’ve only been half listening.

Sometimes a little child may so attract the attention of the hearers that the precious seed does not fall into good ground and bring forth fruit. {5T 493.1}

Aren’t these beautiful little children so cute? And as you look at the little children in the divine service, or in the prayer meeting, or in the Sabbath school, you think: “Oh, isn’t she lovely?” You’ve missed the message because your mind is just being centred on that little child.

Sometimes young men and women have so little reverence for the house and worship of God that they keep up a continual communication with each other during the sermon. Could these see the angels of God looking upon them and marking their doings, they would be filled with shame, with abhorrence of themselves. God wants attentive hearers. {5T 493.1}

If the children are meant to be quiet and attentive and we don’t behave like that, the children won’t learn. It’s very simple especially when your eye catches that little child and in the same message that you’re hearing and in the songs that you are singing. What’s happening? Very simple, the word of God says we are not giving reverence to God speaking to us at that time. And the child does not learn, as it gets older, that divine service, or the meetings in the church, or the gatherings as we wait.

There should be rules in regard to the time, the place, and the manner of worshiping. Nothing that is sacred, nothing that pertains to the worship of God, should be treated with carelessness or indifference. {5T 491.3}

There should be absolutely everything with total reverence to the sacredness of God’s house.

If it is the best they can secure for the Master, He will hallow the place with His presence, and it will be holy unto the Lord of hosts. {5T 491.3}

When the worshipers enter the place of meeting, they should do so with decorum, passing quietly to their seats. {5T 492.1}

If that is done by the adults, what do you think the children will do? They will feel it and they will quietly move to their seats with the parents.

They should remember that heavenly messengers are in the house. We all lose much sweet communion with God by our restlessness, by not encouraging moments of reflection and prayer. {5T 492.2}

We bring the children into the place, and I still remember having to teach our children this. When we go into the church, you don’t go in and out. You go to toilet, that’s what you have the break for. You have your drink so that everything is done beforehand so that when you are in the house of God there is no restlessness. I pointed this out to the children and then people in the church went in and out, in and out. “But dad…” “Yes…” What the parents teach the children must be supported by the church. No restlessness, but quiet attention to be able to pick up every whisper. How can you hear the gentle voice of Jesus with restlessness? It’s impossible.

Brethren, will you not devote a little thought to this subject and notice how you conduct yourselves in the house of God and what efforts you are making by precept and example to cultivate reverence in your children? {5T 494.2}

What I have been sharing with you is actually the Holy Spirit trying to say to us: “Let us take some thoughts on the subject, how I conduct myself in the house of God, and what efforts I am making by precept?” That’s the parents teaching the children by word and example, to cultivate reverence in your children. We have heard different people who’ve come from the mainline church saying: “Oh, what a noise there is in the church on the Sabbath day!” You know where it comes from? Way back in Sister White’s time when they were not listening to the counsel. And very slowly the children grew up with carelessness and they started to talk and the other comes along with the children and they talk, and then what happens in the church? What you see today. I can happen to us just the same. I see it sneaking in every now and then. It gets a bit more and a bit more. I’ve actually come to certain people: “Don’t talk in here, talk outside.” And they get a little bit upset that I’ve actually pulled them up.

When the leaders in the church, ministers and people, fathers and mothers, have not had elevated views of this matter, what could be expected of the inexperienced children? {CG 542.1}

What can be expected? The inexperienced children watch. By beholding they will be because that’s how God understands training. We must be like God. Whatever a parent wants his child to be, the parent must be. Then, when discipline is needed, it will have power.

The Rod of Correction

1Timothy 3:4 …having his children in subjection with all gravity;

Parents have already experienced that you can be ever so nice and gentle and kind and give them a good example, but you have times the child just doesn’t listen. There is something there that you feel like going: “Ah”, but you’ve got to keep on giving the right atmosphere. You can’t be peevish, you can’t be out of control, you’ve to keep on giving that influence, and you don’t know what to do anymore to control that child. Well, although good examples are needed, children need an item more. But that item, to have children in subjection, is an item that needs to be correctly administered.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

When you meet this problem, you’ve been ever so Christlike, ever so godly, but that little child just will not listen. Why? Because foolishness is bound in the child’s heart. So, what is the next step? The rod of correction shall drive this foolishness out of the child. Bring the child into subjection, control the child, subjecting it by the rod of correction. That’s what God does with us. How does God treat us when we are not subject to Him?

Psalms 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

Yes, I’m a foolish person by nature too. I’ve grown up with sinful nature, like we all have and we go astray. No matter how much I love the Lord, I remember I loved the Lord so much but I was going astray. I saw Him in all His goodness but it just didn’t sink in that I had to change. So the Lord afflicted me. I went astray until I was afflicted and then, only then, did I keep His word. That happens with the children too. And it actually says there that the Lord has a people who are poor and afflicted. Yes, we are a poor and afflicted people because the Lord has had to train us.

God exercises affliction combined with His example. This is the important part, affliction combined with example. If I don’t give the right example, what good will affliction do to the child? We have heard some conversations in the prayer meeting that there were some pretty rough treatments. It didn’t do the people any good. In fact, there are many a person that has run away from church because of the harshness of parental training in the churches, without the example. We want to follow this through now. Does God use punishment and affliction? There is the perfect parallel that is mapped out for us as we are to bring up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord:

Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Scourgeth? Affliction.

Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons;

He loves you:

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten

Revelation 12:7 …for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness.

He presents the picture of His holiness, of His gory, and by beholding that glory we will be changed. But what is needed? His chastening in partnership with that. But if His perfection isn’t there to be chastened, then the child won’t learn, then I won’t learn.

Revelation 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

When I’m trained by someone who is a wonderful holy person, it will be a sweet experience for me because I have an example, and when I’m having a real hard time to follow that example I’m going to say: “Oh, thank you for helping me when you gave me the punishment.” Of course, it’s not a really nice thing, and God doesn’t willingly afflict the people either, but He has to.

Lamentations 3:32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

He gives them affliction, but not willingly. In other words, “I’m not doing this in a vindictive way: Here, whack, take that” Nothing like that. “I have to afflict you. I do not do it willingly.”

Lamentations 3:33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. 34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,

“I don’t want to do this.” How does He do it? This is so important to study about God. When foolishness must be driven out, what is God’s gravity that subdues us and brings us into submission? What is the gravity? What is meant by gravity? There is no gravity in somebody becoming violent and hitting me. There is no gravity in that. What is God’s gravity when God afflicts?

God’s Gravity

Micah 6:1 Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. 2 Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD’S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. 3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

What is God saying here? Here are the people that are very unhappy, not happy to do God’s will, they’re ready to do exactly what our children do to us. “Hm! Don’t want to do this.” They will even turn around and resist our will, that’s what the children of Israel did, that is what we God, and God says: “Okay, come on, come and give it to me. Come to the mountain.” When you argue with a huge mountain, what happens? Can you conquer it? Can you conquer this immovable huge object? People do it, don’t they? They try to. How many have died on Mount Everest? And those that got up Mount Everest, what have they got? You come to Mount Everest and try to get around it? Argue with it, come on.

You can argue with God as much as you like, God just stands there. You can’t get through Him, you can’t get around Him, you can’t get over the top of Him. God is a gigantic, impregnable, immovable mountain, and I want to measure my will against that mountain? If I do, there are consequences. There was a lady who climbed that Mount Everest several times, and the last time she climbed it, she was dead. And everybody was upset: “Oh, how terrible…” There are consequences if you want to climb up God, punishment, but different to how we punish. If you climb over it, go around it, do whatever you like to God, you will do damage to yourself. Parents, do we have our lessons on the subject of subjection? That child will fight against you, don’t move a moment.

Whatever the child wants to do, don’t give in to it. Be ever so kind, ever so nice, but don’t give in to it. That’s what God does. Doesn’t He? There is the gravity, the child buts and carries on and you just firmly hold it in place, and it can’t have its way. Finish, the child finally says: “Alright, you win.” That’s happened to me as a child. I couldn’t get around my dad, couldn’t get around my mother. I had to receive a stick or two, I couldn’t get around it. And we are told to punish a child, that’s what it says, “the rod of correction”, but how? The perfect example and the immovability of anything different. Here we have a lesson of parental discipline:

No doubt you will see faults and waywardness on the part of your children. Some parents will tell you that they talk to and punish their children, but they cannot see that it does them any real good. Let such parents try new methods. Let them mingle kindness and affection and love with their family government, and yet let them be as firm as a rock to right principles. {CG 262.5}

In other words, you’ve got to be like God to them. God is rock, a big mountain, can’t get around it. Parents, this is the method. This is the new way. Kindness, ever so loving and kind, and when it comes to waywardness and deliberate resistance to your voice and your word, then you are as firm as a rock; he can’t get away with it. That’s it, sorry. And the child will finally go: “Ah, I can’t anymore.” And it will give in. But if you give in, he’s got the power over you. Have you experienced that? You give in to it one little ounce, they’ll take you to the next ounce, and to the next, and to the next, until finally you are a servant to the child instead of the child obedient to you. This is reality. We must be like God to children, immovable, firm as rock, no bending. If I know I’ve got the principle right, if it’s God’s principle, sorry child, this is it. Parental control, subjection as God does.

Parents, you should commence your first lesson of discipline when your children are babes in your arms. Teach them to yield their will to yours. {CG 230.4}

That’s what God does. He teaches us, by His will mountain. I just can’t get around it, can I? I might as well make a decision. Instead of trying to get around it, I’ll hide in the bosom of mountain and just be comforted there, as we sang in that beautiful song:

The Lord’s our rock, in Him we hide,

A shelter in the time of the storm.

Parents who have handled their child this way find their children to be wonderful children who will come to their parents and ask for protection and care.

Teach them to yield their will to yours. This can be done by bearing an even hand and manifesting firmness. {CG 230.4}

What do we call the mountains? Firm.

Parents should have perfect control over their own spirits and, with mildness and yet firmness, bend the will of the child until it shall expect nothing else but to yield to their wishes. {CG 230.4}

Because when you have a child under your roof, that child has to live under the control of that government. If the child grows up later on and doesn’t want it anymore, that’s fine. But under the roof, parents govern, not children but with mildness and love.

What is the actual work of discipline? What is it for?

Training for Self-Government

The object of discipline is the training of the child for self-government. He should be taught self-reliance and self-control. Therefore as soon as he is capable of understanding, his reason should be enlisted on the side of obedience. {CG 223.1}

The child has to learn to think for himself, and of course when it comes to a mountain it will learn to think for himself. This mountain is ever so solid but ever so kind and nice, beautiful nature all around it. The child enjoys the birds, the beautiful flourishing things around it and it realizes it can’t get around it, that’s it.

Let all dealing with him be such as to show obedience to be just and reasonable. {CG 223.1}

The child’s mind has to understand that.

Help him to see that all things are under law, and that disobedience leads, in the end, to disaster and suffering. {CG 223.1}

Lead him to see that, to understand that. They can’t understand it by just getting a beating.

The severe training of youth—without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform—will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves, they will reveal the fact that they were trained, like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers. {CG 227.1}

A Firm Severity

The discipline is necessary to drive the foolishness but the people need to understand they are intelligent. Children are intelligent entities and they must be able to see and experience in such a way that they can draw conclusions for themselves. We have an example of the children of Israel with Elisha. He came back from farewelling Elijah and as he was walking along came these youth, these scoundrels. He might have done anything but he was so mild, he was so gentle and he didn’t want to do anything. They were following him and crying out:

2 Kings 2:23 …there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

The idea that we must submit to ways of perverse children is a mistake. Elisha, at the very commencement of his work, was mocked and derided by the youth of Bethel. He was a man of great mildness, but the Spirit of God impelled him to pronounce a curse upon those railers. They had heard of Elijah’s ascension, and they made this solemn event the subject of jeers. Elisha evinced that he was not to be trifled with, by old or young, in his sacred calling. When they told him he had better go up, as Elijah had done before him, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. The awful judgment that came upon them was of God. {5T 44.2}

It was God that afflicted them. Those she-bears, every one of these children, scared stiff. Nature was being used as a consequence of their behaviour.

After this, Elisha had no further trouble in his mission. For fifty years he passed in and out of the gate of Bethel, and went to and fro from city to city, passing through crowds of the worst and rudest of idle, dissolute youth, but no one ever mocked him or made light of his qualifications as the prophet of the Most High. This one instance of terrible severity in the commencement of his career was sufficient to command respect through his whole life. {5T 44.2}

Elisha had peace. Parents, do you want peace in your home? Do we want peace in the church?

Even kindness must have its limits. Authority must be sustained by a firm severity, or it will be received by many with mockery and contempt. The so-called tenderness, the coaxing and the indulgence, used toward youth by parents and guardians is the worst evil which can come upon them. Firmness, decision, positive requirements, are essential in every family. Parents, take up your neglected responsibilities; educate your children after God’s plan, showing “forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” {5T 45.1}

A good example and a firmness as God does it with us. If you punish a child severely for things it does that it sees you doing, what will happen to its mind? It’s bewildered, it can’t work through the anomaly. “But, but, but, but you did it!” I still remember one particular child saying: “But, but!” And he got another smack: “Don’t you argue with me.” The child was simply bewildered because “you’re telling me not to do something that you’re doing.” “Do as you’re told!” That’s all we hear in modern child training, and even in the old days. No, the object of discipline is for the child to be able to pick up the correct understanding in its own mind. Discipline and example are inseparable, as we see it with God. It is by this consistent procedure that the text which we know so well is reality:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

“In the way he should go” We get upset because: “We’ve trained the children! And they’ve done the opposite.” Why? Because what they saw was different to what they were told. And what they saw is what they can’t get rid of. Have you ever seen your own mistakes in your children? Those children wish they could get rid of that as they get adult. But they can’t unless they are born again and start under the tuition of God.

Developing the Likeness of the Divine

Your privilege, mother, father and church member is to be able to cooperate together with God in a relationship that will produce in those little children the following:

No other work can equal hers in importance. She has not, like the artist, to paint a form of beauty upon canvas, nor, like the sculptor, to chisel it from marble. She has not, like the author, to embody a noble thought in words of power, nor, like the musician, to express a beautiful sentiment in melody. It is hers, with the help of God, to develop in a human soul the likeness of the divine. {MH 377.1}

What a privilege.

The mother who appreciates this will regard her opportunities as priceless. {MH 378.1}

Does it include us, our example, our opportunities? Yes. You want to see these children behaving nicely? And you see children really misbehaving, you go: pfffttttt. Look at yourself. Are they watching you?

She will keep her eyes fixed upon Christ, {MH 378.1}

She will be like that little baby, looking at every activity of Jesus Christ. The image of Christ is cherished and it is absorbed, that’s what she will do.

She will keep her eyes fixed upon Christ, that her own daily experience, in the lowly round of care and duty, may be a true reflection of the one true Life. {MH 378.1}

Because that little child will observe the likeness of the divine and that child will develop in the likeness of the divine.

Amen.

Posted on December 24, 2012, in Beholding Christ, Child Training, Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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