Friday, May 27, 2016

Quality of Great Leaders

Moses to Israel: 9 At that time I (Moses) said, “I am not able to take care of you (Israel) by myself. 10 The LORD your God has made you grow in number so that there are as many of you as there are stars in the sky. 11 I pray that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, will give you a thousand times more people and do all the wonderful things He promised. 12 But I cannot take care of your problems, your troubles, and your arguments by myself. 13 So choose some men from each tribe—wise men who have understanding and experience—and I will make them leaders over you.” 14 And you (Israel) said, “That’s a good thing to do.” 15 So I took the wise and experienced leaders of your tribes, and I made them your leaders. I appointed commanders over a thousand people, over a hundred people, over fifty people, and over ten people and made them officers over your tribes. Deuteronomy 1:9-15 (NCV)

After leaving Egypt, Moses led the great and vast people of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:9-11). God called Moses to lead Israel, to judge any quarrels and problems amongst the people and seek God’s will for the ancient Israelites (Deuteronomy 1:9, 12; see also Exodus 18:13-15, 19; Numbers 11:10-12). As God’s representative, Moses would resolve the Israelites’ disputes based upon God’s laws and decrees (see Exodus 18:15-16, 19-20). Because the people of Israel were numerous (Deuteronomy 1:10-11), Moses could not solely manage the people’s problems and disputes (Deuteronomy 1:12). Moses was a great leader and a spiritual giant, but even he could do only so much (see Exodus 18:17-18, 22-23; Numbers 11:14, 17).

God instructed Moses to select some wise, understanding, honest, trustworthy, and experienced men from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and appoint these godly men as judges and officials to help him lead the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:13-14; see also Exodus 18:20-22; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; Acts 6:3). Moses selected godly and respected men and commissioned them as leaders in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens to resolve any disputes and help the Israelites in every way (Deuteronomy 1:15; see also Exodus 18:21, 25). Also, Moses taught these God-fearing men God’s decrees and laws and showed them the way to live and the duties they were to perform (Deuteronomy 1:18; see also Exodus 18:20). These selected men were to assist Moses in judging the people’s issues, but Moses was to resolve any difficult cases (Deuteronomy 1:17; see also Exodus 18:22, 26; Numbers 11:16).

Moses to Israel:  16 “At that time I (Moses) instructed the judges, ‘You must hear the cases of your fellow Israelites and the foreigners living among you. Be perfectly fair in your decisions 17 and impartial (unprejudiced) in your judgments. Hear the cases of those who are poor as well as those who are rich. Do not be afraid of anyone’s anger, for the decision you make is God’s decision. Bring me (Moses) any cases that are too difficult for you, and I will handle them.’ 18 At that time, I gave you instructions about everything you were to do.” Deuteronomy 1:16-18 (NLT)

At the same time, Moses instructed these honest, God-fearing, and experienced judges to be perfectly fair at all times, even to foreigners (Deuteronomy 1:16; see also Exodus 22:21-22; Exodus 23:8). Moses instructed these leaders to listen carefully to complaints and accusations amongst the people and to judge every case fairly and impartially, regardless of their nationality, race, social position, or wealth (Deuteronomy 1:16-17; see also 1 Kings 3:9). Moses encouraged these leaders not to play favorites because one was rich but to be fair and impartial to great and small alike; listening carefully to each dispute (Deuteronomy 1:17; see also Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:18; Acts 10:34-35; James 2:1). These judges and officials were neither to pervert justice, show partiality nor to accept a bribe and twists the words of the innocent but follow justice and justice alone for all people (Deuteronomy 16:19-20; see also Exodus 23:2-3, 6-9).

God wanted these judges and officials to imitate His ways in all matters (Deuteronomy 10:17; see also 2 Chronicles 19:7). The LORD God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes (Deuteronomy 10:17; see also Leviticus 19:15-16). The true and living God defends the cause of the fatherless and widows, and loves the foreigner, giving them food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10:18; see also Exodus 22:21, 22-24; Deuteronomy 24:19). God expects everyone, particularly His judges and leading officials to love people and to be fair and just in all matters (Deuteronomy 10:19; see also Leviticus 19:33-34).

Moreover, the leaders were not fear the people’s displeasure because they were judging in the place of God, who is the ultimate Judge of all (Deuteronomy 1:17; see also Proverbs 29:25). Any disputes that were too difficult for the leaders were to be given to Moses for a final decision (Deuteronomy 1:17). These instructions created a chain of command between Moses and the people so that he did not have to get involved in every minor dispute. Moses could devote himself to talking with God and helping to settle the most significant problems amongst the people.

The instructions Moses gave to the newly appointed judges and officials is one that should be followed by everybody who serves in positions of authority, whether religious or civil (Deuteronomy 1:16-18; see also Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The emphasis is on honesty, mercy, and fairness toward all people and the realization that God is the ultimate Judge and the final authority  (1 Samuel 2:3; see also Psalm 50:6; Psalm 75:7). Throughout the Law of Moses, God emphasized justice, mercy, fairness, honesty, and kindness to the poor, especially widows, orphans, and aliens in the land (e.g., see e.g. Exodus 22:21-24; Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Deuteronomy 24:17-21). Frequently the Old Testament prophets thundered against the wealthy  because they were abusing the poor and the helpless in the land (e.g. see Isaiah 1:23-25; Isaiah 10:1-3; Jeremiah 7:1-6; Jeremiah 22:3; Hosea 6:6 Amos 2:6-7; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 7:8). The New Testament also speaks on the importance of fairness, honesty, mercy, and kindness to the poor and needy (e.g. see Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Matthew 25:31-46; Hebrews 13:1-5; James 1:26-27; James 2:15-16; James 5:1-6).

The Holy Bible NIV 2011 (Grand Rapids, MI: Biblica, 2011).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trusting and Obeying God

2 Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea [on the border of the Promised Land], going by way of Mount Seir. 3 But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the LORD had commanded him to say. Deuteronomy 1:2-3 (NLT)

One of the most dramatic examples from the Holy Bible for wholeheartedly trusting and obeying the true and living God are the events of the wilderness wandering (see Deuteronomy 1). While in Egypt, God had graciously and lovingly multiplied Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants a thousand times more, and God blessed and protected them as He promised (Deuteronomy 1:10-11; see also Genesis 15:5-7; Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13). Then, God delivered the ancient Israelites from Egyptian bondage by His mighty power and then brought the Israelites to Mount Sinai (Horeb or mountain of God) (see Exodus 6:1-2; Exodus 14:14; Exodus 19:1). At Mount Sinai, God revealed to Israel His great power and glory, and He gave the Israelites His covenant as recorded in Exodus chapters 20 through 24, Leviticus, and Numbers. The book of Deuteronomy summarizes God’s gracious covenant with Israel. Once receiving God’s covenant, God instructed the Israelites to go into the good land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all of their descendants (Deuteronomy 1:8, 20-25; see also Genesis 13:14-18; Genesis 15:7-21; Exodus 3:7-8; Numbers 10:11-13; Numbers 13:26-27; Numbers 14:7-8; Joshua 1:2-4). The ancient Israelites’ trip from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea [on the border of the Promised Land] was only an eleven-day journey (Deuteronomy 1:2). However, the ancient Israelites stayed at Mount Sinai forty years (Deuteronomy 1:3, 6; see also Hebrews 3:7-9). Why may you ask?

Moses to Israel: 29 “But I said to you, ‘Do not be shocked or afraid of them (Israel’s enemies)! 30 The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw Him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now He has brought you to this place.’ 32 But even after all He did, you refused to trust the LORD your God, 33 who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.” Deuteronomy 1:29-33 (NLT)

Sadly, the ancient Israelites doubted God and refused to trust in God’s continued power, grace, and glorious protection to lead them to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:26-28; see also Numbers 14:20-23). The ancient Israelites rebelled and complained against God because they believed that the true and living God was not strong enough to protect and provide for them and their families against their enemies (Deuteronomy 1:26-28; see also Numbers 13:28-29). The ancient Israelites were filled with fear and wavering unbelief as they were walking by sight and not by faith in the LORD God's promises (Deuteronomy 1:21; see also 2 Corinthians 5:7; James 1:5-8). Moses, along with Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua, encouraged the people not to be afraid or discouraged because the LORD God was powerful and mighty, and He would protect and care for them against their enemies (Deuteronomy 1:21, 29-31; see also Exodus 19:4; Numbers 13:30; Numbers 14:5-9). God had graciously and miraculously protected and provided from Israel, and He wanted the people to continue to obey and trust in Him (Numbers 14:11). However, the ancient Israelites treated God’s loving goodness with contempt and refused to obey and trust in the LORD God’s glorious grace, power, love, and protection (Deuteronomy 1:30, 32-33; see also Numbers 14:11; Psalm 78:11-14, 42-43). The LORD God is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion to those that love Him and obey His teachings (Numbers 14:18; see also Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8; James 5:11). However, the LORD God punishes continual sinfulness, wickedness, and rebellion (Numbers 14:18; see also Exodus 34:7; Joshua 24:19; Nahum 1:3).

The true and living God heard the Israelites complaining and became very angry (Deuteronomy 1:34). God promised that not one person in that entire generation would live to see the good land He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all of their descendants, except Caleb and Joshua (Deuteronomy 1:34-36, 38; see also Numbers 14:23-24, 28-30; Hebrews 3:11). Not even Moses was allowed into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:37; see also Numbers 27:12-14). Caleb and Joshua were excluded from God’s punishment because they wholeheartedly believed, trusted, and obeyed the LORD God (Deuteronomy 1:36, 38; see also Numbers 14:23-24). Thus, millions of Israelites died in the wilderness wandering the desert around Mount Sinai (Horeb) and did not see God’s Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:40). However, God’s grace allowed the ancient Israelites’ children to see the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants (Deuteronomy 1:39; see also Numbers 14:31; Numbers 32:8-13).

Upon receiving God’s punishment, the Israelites confessed their sins to God and decided to go into the Promised Land and conquer the land as previously instructed by the LORD God (Deuteronomy 1:41; see also Numbers 14:39-40). The ancient Israelites strapped on their weapons and arrogantly (presumptively) thinking it would be easy to conquer the whole area (Deuteronomy 1:41, 43). However, Moses warned the ancient Israelites that God’s protecting and glorious Presence would not with them to protect them from their enemies (Deuteronomy 1:42). Sadly, Israel’s rebellion and disobedience against the LORD God removed God’s protecting Presence from their lives (Deuteronomy 1:42-43; see also Numbers 14:41-43). Israel’s enemies who lived in the Promised Land came out and defeated Israel’s attempt to take the land without God’s protecting Presence (Deuteronomy 1:44-45).

After their humiliating defeat, the ancient Israelites weep and cried out to God (Deuteronomy 1:45). However, God refused to listen to their cries and weeping because of their disobedience and rebellion (Deuteronomy 1:45; see also e.g., Proverbs 28:9-10; Isaiah 1:15-17; Micah 3:4; John 9:31). The people of Israel stayed in the wilderness wandering the desert for 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days as punishment for their disobedience and rebellion towards God (Deuteronomy 1:46; see also Numbers 14:33-35).

The writer of Hebrews uses the story Israel’s disobedience and lack of trust to warn New Testament believers to remain continually faithful and obedient to God’s Son and Messenger, Jesus (Hebrews 3:7-12; see also Hebrews 1:2-3). Jesus, God’s faithful Son, is in complete charge of God’s house and we Christians are God’s house (Hebrews 3:6; see also 1 Corinthians 3:16). Jesus lives in Christians if we keep up our courage firm to the end, and our joy and our trust in the LORD God (Hebrews 3:6, 14).

7 That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness. 9 There your ancestors tested and tried My patience, even though they saw My miracles for forty years. 10 So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from Me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in My anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter My place of rest.’” 12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. Hebrews 3:7-12 (NLT)

The Holy Bible NIV 2011 (Grand Rapids, MI: Biblica, 2011).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Is God Real?

35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides Him there is no other. . . . 39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Deuteronomy 4:35, 39 (NIV)

One of the most fundamental principles of the Holy Bible is that God exists (Deuteronomy 6:4; see also Matthew 22:37-38; Mark 12:29-30; Luke 10:27; Ephesians 4:6; James 2:19). There is no other god besides the true and living LORD God (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39), and He is the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). God the Father is the ultimate source of all creation (see Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 37:16; Acts 4:24; Romans 11:36). God's Son Jesus is the dynamic One through whom, with the Father, all things came into existence (see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). The true and living God is not only the God of the Jews, but He is also the God of all nations both in heaven and on earth (see Exodus 8:10; 1 Samuel 1:2; Daniel 4:2-3, 37; Daniel 6:26-27; Acts 17:16, 22-31).

Another fundamental principle of the Holy Bible is that the true and living God is to be WORSHIPPED, LOVED, HONORED, OBEYED, AND RESPECTED FIRST (see Deuteronomy 5:7; Deuteronomy 6:4-6). During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ announced the first and most important commandment of the entire Holy Bible is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30; see also Matthew 22:37-38) and to obey the LORD God’s teachings (see Matthew 4:10). Worshipping anyone or any created thing is sinful and worthless (see Deuteronomy 6:13; Psalm 115:8; Romans 1:18). The LORD God is a devouring fire; He is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24, see also Exodus 20:5; Hebrews 12:29). Yet, the LORD God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you (Deuteronomy 4:31; see also Exodus 34:6; Psalm 111:4). Besides, our genuine love, faithfulness, and obedience to the LORD God bring long life and peace not only to ourselves but also to our household (see Deuteronomy 4:1-4, 39-40; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Proverbs 3:1-6).

Even more, our obedience to God and His teachings found in the Holy Bible displays our wisdom, intelligence, and understanding among others (Deuteronomy 4:6-8; Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:98; 2 Timothy 3:15). Most important, our love and obedience to the true and living God and His Word pleases and glorifies Him and shows our continual reverence for Him (Deuteronomy 4:10). Our evil deeds and actions provoke the LORD God to anger and His wrath (Deuteronomy 4:25; see also Romans 1:18-32). Nevertheless, the LORD God is gracious and merciful to forgive our sins and tribulation when we turn and seek Him with all our hearts and with all our souls and be obedient to His teachings (Deuteronomy 4:29-30; see also 1 John 1:9). For the LORD God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you when you wholeheartedly turn to Him and away from your sins (Deuteronomy 4:31).

16 While Paul was waiting for them (Silas and Timothy) in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. . . . 22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the One I am telling you about. 24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He does not live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands cannot serve His needs—for He has no needs. He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need. 26 From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries. 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we should not think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. 31  For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the Man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him (Jesus) from the dead.” Acts 17:16, 22-31 (NLT)

The New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
The Holy Bible NIV 2011 (Grand Rapids, MI: Biblica, 2011).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

Monday, May 9, 2016

Raising Children

4 True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life. 5 Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. 6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. . . . 15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away. Proverbs 22:4-6, 15 (NLT)

Fatherhood is a common feature of the First and Second Samuel. With the exception of Elkanah (Samuel’s father) (1 Samuel 1:1, 3, 19-20), the Old Testament books of Samuel never depicts fathers positively.[1] The children of the great leaders in First and Second Samuel turn out to be either scoundrels or worthless men. Jonathan is the single exceptions; in his case, the father, Saul, turns out to be the one who is depraved and utterly corrupt.[2]

First Samuel opens with the faithful worship of Samuel’s father and mother, Elkanah and Hannah (1 Samuel 1 and 2). Despite the decline of worship in Israel, Samuel’s parents persistently and faithfully lived righteously and worshiped God from their heart (1 Samuel 1:13, 15, 19).[3] Samuel of the Old Testament was one of Israel’s greatest prophets and judges (1 Samuel 3:1, 19-21; 1 Samuel 7:6, 15; see also Acts 13:20; Hebrews 11:32-33). From a young age, the LORD God was with Samuel, and he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (1 Samuel 2:21, 26; see also Luke 2:52). His mother Hannah dedicated Samuel as a young child to God’s service and brought young Samuel to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to be trained by Israel’s high priest, Eli (1 Samuel 1:11, 26-28, 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 3:1). While still a boy, Samuel heard God speak (1 Samuel 3:1, 10).

As Israel’s priest and judge, Eli was a faithful man of God but he did not properly train his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas (see 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 2:12-29; 1 Samuel 3:13; 1 Samuel 4:18). Hophni and Phinehas were wicked men and did continual evil in God’s sight (1 Samuel 2:17, 25). While at Shiloh, Samuel witnessed Eli’s failures as a parent with his wickded sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:12-36). God held Eli responsible for his sons’ disgraceful behavior at the Tabernacle.[4] Eli rebuked Hophni and Phinehas, but he “failed to restrain them” (1 Samuel 2:23-25, 3:13). Eventually, God appointed Samuel to lead Israel after Eli, Hophni and Phinehas’s death (1 Samuel 4:10-11, 12-18; see also 1 Samuel 3:19-21). Samuel faithfully led Israel (1 Samuel 7:15-17) and sought the LORD God’s guidance in prayer as Israel’s leader (1 Samuel 8:6). Under Samuel’s faithful leadership, the land of Israel enjoyed peace from its enemies (1 Samuel 7:13-14).

As Samuel grew old, he retired and appointed his oldest sons, Joel and Abijah, as judges over Israel (1 Samuel 8:1-2). Joel and Abijah held court in Beersheba, but they were not like their faithful father, Samuel (1 Samuel 8:2-3). Similar to Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:12-13), these two brothers were greedy and worthless men and not did not faithfully follow the ways of the LORD God (1 Samuel 8:3, 5; see also Philippians 3:17-19). Joel and Abijah accepted bribes from people and perverted justice (1 Samuel 8:3; see also Exodus 23:2).

Finally, the leaders of Israel met in Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel (1 Samuel 8:4). The leaders informed Samuel that since his retirement matters in Israel had not been the same, for his sons, Joel and Abijah, were not good men and leaders like him (1 Samuel 8:4-5). Joel and Abijah’s failures led Israel’s leaders to ask and plead with Samuel for a king like all the other nations (see 1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20). Like Eli, Samuel failed to train Joel and Abijah in the ways of God.

The Holy Scriptures gives readers little insight into Eli and Samuel’s home life, but the disobedience and wickedness of their sons are evident in the pages of Scripture.[5] Many tasks are valuable and important, but nothing is more than important teaching our families to faithfully love, honor, and obey God (see Matthew 22:34-40). Godly parenthood means devoting prime time to loving and training children to wholeheartedly love God and faithfully follow God’s righteous ways (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; see also Proverbs 22:6; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 6:4). As parents, we have a responsibility to train and lead our children how to live right before God, and to grow and mature spiritually, morally, and ethically (Proverbs 22:6; see also Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Deuteronomy 32:46-47; 2 Timothy 3:15-16). Foolishness is tangled up in children’s hearts and parent’ godly discipline and punishment drive foolhardiness away from their children (Proverbs 22:15; see also Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13-14, Proverbs 29:15). Honoring God means teaching our children to love and obey God (1 Samuel 2:29-30).

As Christians and particularly church leaders, parents have an obligation to bring their children up with the loving discipline the LORD God approves (Ephesians 6:4; see also Genesis 18:19; Colossians 3:21). We are not to continual rebuke and nag our children as such actions can make children angry, discouraged, and resentful (Ephesians 6:4). If parents are always blaming and never praising, children will lose heart (Colossians 3:21). Rather than nagging and arbitrarily asserting our authority, the Holy Scriptures instruct parents prayerfully and consistently to train and discipline our children but with love (see Proverbs 1:8-9). Training our children means a combination of instruction, encouragement, discipline, and personal guidance according to the LORD God’s ways and NOT the ways of the world (see 2 Timothy 3:15-17).[6] The overwhelming emphasis of the Old Testament book of Proverbs is on verbal encouragement and teaching of children.[7] The entire book of Proverbs is framed as a father and mother’s instructions to his son, teaching him the “facts of life” according to God’s righteous ways (e.g., see Proverbs 1:8-11; Proverbs 31:1-3).[8] Undisciplined and untrained children are often rebels.

 “The rod of discipline” stands for all forms of discipline or training (Proverbs 22:15; see also Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14).[9] Just as God trains and corrects us to make us better, so Christian parents must discipline their children to walk the right path and learn the difference between right and wrong (see Proverbs 3:11-12; see also Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19). Yet, parents are NEVER to use their authority to abuse the child, but to fairly encourage and lead their children in the ways of God and this training also includes not showing favoritism within the home. Christians must assure they are disciplining their children in love and NOT IN ANGER, for fear that we injure either the body or the spirit of the child, or possibly both![10] “Flying off the handle” never made either a better child or a better parent.[11]

To help with training our children, Christian parents need to seek God’s guidance in prayer so they can be sensitive to the needs and problems of their children.[12] It is not enough to nurture our children physically by providing food, shelter, and clothing.[13] We must also nurture and train our children emotionally and spiritually to choose the God’s righteous and just ways (see Genesis 18:19; Micah 6:6-8).[14] God looks to the parents for the kind of training that the children need (see Proverbs 13:24).[15] Parents are responsible for providing religious and moral instruction for their sons and daughters.[16]

One of the most important things parents can do is spend time with their children and listen to them.[17] As the great theologian Warren Wiersbe said, “A listening ear and a loving heart always go together.” Life is not easy for children, especially Christian children. Christian parents must listen carefully, sharing the feelings and frustrations of their children, praying with them, and seeking to encourage them. Moreover, Christian parents must help their children develop their personalities, their gifts, and their skills. Every child has special gifts and talents from God. Parents are to discern and understand the unique way God has created their children – children’s individuality and inclinations – and nurture them accordingly.[18] Moreover, our home must be a place of encouragement and warmth for children.[19] Discouraged children are fair prey for Satan and the world.[20] When parents neglect these important tasks, God is forgotten, values become corrupt, and society as a whole suffers decline (see Deuteronomy 6:1-10).[21] If a home is truly Christian, it is a place of encouragement, openness, and love but also a refuge to find strength to fight the battles and carry the burdens of growing maturity (e.g., see 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 10-12). A child should find a loving heart, a watching eye, a listening ear, and a helping hand at home.[22] Children who grow up in a godly environment where God's truths are modeled and where they are encouraged to live according to God's ways will likely end up embracing those values and living by them into adulthood.[23]

Critics often point to verses like Proverbs 13:24 as examples of cruelty and abuse of children (see also Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15, 17). However, critics must understand these verses in the broader context of Proverb’s teaching about discipline.[24] The goal of discipline is instruction, encouragement, and loving guidance, as well as physical or corporal punishment to change a child’s attitude or behavior to follow the ways of God (Proverbs 3:3-7). Godly parental discipline should always be corrective in nature, never vindictive and abusive.[25] The book of Proverbs also recognizes that children do not, by nature, gravitate toward God’s wisdom and order, and that left to themselves children will move toward folly and self-destruction (Proverbs 22:15). It is not easy for a loving parent to discipline a child, but it is necessary to nurture and guide our children (Proverbs 13:24; see also Proverbs 23:13).[26]

Disciple's Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible, 1988).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
Life Essentials Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2011).
Faithlife Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012).
KJV Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994).
The New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012).
The Holy Bible NIV 2011 (Grand Rapids, MI: Biblica, 2011).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament  and New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

[1] Faithlife Study Bible
[2] Faithlife Study Bible
[3] KJV Bible Commentary
[4] The New Student Bible
[5] Disciple's Study Bible
[6] Disciple's Study Bible
[7] The New Student Bible
[8] The New Student Bible
[9] Life Application Study Bible
[10] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[11] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[12] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[13] Disciple's Study Bible
[14] Life Application Study Bible
[15] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[16] Disciple's Study Bible
[17] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[18] Life Essentials Study Bible
[19] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[20] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[21] Disciple's Study Bible
[22] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[23] The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe
[24] The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe
[25] Disciple's Study Bible
[26] Life Application Study Bible