Book Title: The Real Home
“I wish I could mind as my dog minds me,” said a little boy of his shaggy friend. “He always looks so pleased to mind,” he continued, “and I don’t.”
We all fail when tested on obedience. It was so necessary men should obey that it was the first requirement given in Eden. It is of first importance in the home. Disobedience is the cause of all the troubles we suffer.
Fathers and mothers are partners with God in government. He knows their perplexities.
Notice some of the methods our Father uses in dealing with His earthborn children:
1. He requires strict obedience. This is of such importance that He declares: “This thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” Jeremiah 7:23.
2. He gives tests and commands. He says, You may do this; you must not do that. (Genesis 2:16,17)
3. Having told His children what to do, He gave them the privilege of choice. When their faculties were fully developed, they might choose to obey or to disobey. He said, “Come now, and let us reason together.” Isaiah 1:18.
4. He promises a reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebelled, ye shall be devoured with the sword.” Isaiah 1:19,20.
5. He makes His requirements so plain they can be understood; the results of obedience and disobedience are also clearly pointed out.
6. He always keeps His word.
7. He does not ask impossible things. “All His biddings are enablings.”
8. When His children are disobedient, He does not accept excuses. The story of Saul illustrates this. Saul did not obey, and when questioned, said his soldiers were responsible for failure. Samuel, as the representative of God, uttered these stern words of rebuke: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:22, 23.
9. Our Father suffers because His children are disobedient. At any cost to Himself, He seeks to save them from disobedience.
10. He loves His children too well to withhold correction when they do not obey; “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” Hebrews 12:6.
11. The only reason our Father chastens is that His children may repent and choose the right. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not must rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit. … Now no chastening for the present seemth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:9-11.
But the importance of obedience should not lead us to harshness and cruelty in dealing with children. It is, however, the worst cruelty that can be exercised toward any child to allow him to grow up disrespectful and undisciplined.
This is strongly emphasized in the Bible:
“For I know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.”
Notice that fathers and mothers are not told to punish their children. They are told to “train,” “correct,” and “chasten.” Perhaps the word “chasten” is nearest the meaning of the word “punish”; but would it not be better to train, to correct, employing chastisement as a last resort?
“Parents, in the training of your children, study the lessons that God has given in nature. If you would train a pink, or rose, or lily, how would you do it? Ask the gardener by what process he makes every branch and leaf
to flourish so beautifully, and to develop in symmetry and loveliness. He will tell you that it was by no rude touch, no violent effort; for this would only break the delicate stems. It was by little attentions, often repeated.
He moistened the soil, and protected the growing plants from the fierce blasts and from the scorching sun, and God caused them to flourish and to blossom into loveliness. In dealing with your children, follow the method of the
gardener. By gentle touches, by loving ministrations, seek to fashion their characters after the pattern of the character of Christ.
Long ago a boy started for school one morning. It was a new experience for the little lad, and his mother, as she kissed him good-by, told him he must not play by the way, but to go and return without stopping.
With lunch in hand, the boy meant to do as mother said. But in the creek he saw a fish. It looked very pretty, and he leaned over the railing of the bridge to watch it swim. Then he saw another and another. But mother said he must not stop, so he hurried on.
Soon he saw a butterfly. It was a beauty. If he could only catch it! He set his basket down, crept toward the butterfly, put his hat over it, thought he had caught it, looked, but it was not there.
“There it is!” he exclaimed, as he looked at a tall weed, and again he tried to capture it. Away if flew, and the race began between butterfly and boy.
Then he began to feel tired. He looked for his lunch, but it was not where he thought he left it. He tried to find the bridge and the road. The sun grew hot, and he felt hungry. Still he kept on till the shadows of afternoon began to fall. The longer he walked, the deeper grew his loneliness, and he felt that he was lost. Perhaps he would never get home.
Mother had taught the boy to pray. He knew that now he needed help. He knelt in the field. His voice was shaky, but he began, “Our Father,” when he heard a voice saying, “Well, my boy, what do you want?”
In a moment he was clasped in the strong, loving arms of his father. On the homeward journey the child listened as father told how he had been thinking of his boy. He wondered if anything would happen while the child was alone. Father had been following him all day. God had sent him to answer his boy’s prayers.
Then the father said: “Our heavenly Father watches you and me like that. When we do wrong, it makes Him sorry, but He loves us, so He follows and helps when we ask Him.”
“A PICTURE OF GOD”
The story of how another father dealt with his erring son is interesting reading, and emphasizes in a strong way how our Father treats His sinful children:
A minister, who lived in a New England town, had a son about fourteen years of age, going to school. One afternoon the boy’s teacher called at the home, asked for the father, and said:
“Is your boy sick?”
It is not surprising to know that that boy, when he grew to be a man, became a missionary for Jesus in the heart of China.
That father is a human picture of God. God could not take away sin. It’s here. He could not take away the suffering; for suffering bears witness that something is wrong in this world. So God came here in the person of His Son, and lay down beside man in the prison house of death. That’s God – our God. And besides that, He comes and places His life beside yours and mine, and makes us hate the sin and long to be pure.
One mother gives this good advice:
“I’d like to say to every young mother: Begin early and keep in view the qualities you want your children to have, and they will surely have them. Begin before they know that the world contains opinions different from yours. Get ahead of the enemy that sows the tares. Your tiny trees will be all right if you look after them in season. There is nothing hard in bending a tree while it is little. If you keep it in sight afterward and see that it stays straight, that is all that is necessary; it will almost certainly grow up as you started it.”…
THE CHILD’S VIEWPOINT
One point to be guarded in discipline is to know absolutely that the child is guilty of misconduct. It is wise to get his understanding of the transaction, to learn his motive. This is illustrated by Bobby’s experience.
A penny had been given him to place in the mission offering. His teacher informed the father that he had given nothing. When father met the boy, he inquired:
“Did you put the cent I gave you into the box?”
The confession was followed by quick punishment.
Later Bobby was called to his mother’s room where she was lying ill. Mother drew him close to her.
“Papa thinks I stole; he does,” whispered Bobby.
“Hush, dear. Now tell mother about that little cent.”
“Oh, you know,” exclaimed Bobby. “You know that little colored boy who lives with all the other children who haven’t any papas and mammas, and wear blue aprons.”
“In the children’s home?” said mother.
“That little colored boy’s mamma was a washerlady, but she’s dead so she can’t do any more washes and buy him candy. The peanut man on the corner had some nice candy – so I bought him a stick all for hisself.”
‘Didn’t you keep even a bite?”
“No,” answered the manly little voice. “I wanted it awfully bad, but I couldn’t take it ‘cause it wasn’t my money. My money was for little boys in Africa. I’ve seen their pictures.”
“Does this little boy look like one of them?”
“He is one,” replied Bobby. “I asked the teacher if he wasn’t, and she said ‘Yes.’ I wanted to give him my penny ‘cause I can’t see those boys in Africa when I put money in the box.’”
What a difference when it was learned why Bobby spent his money for candy instead of giving it to missions! Happily for the boy, the mother looked beyond the act to the motive and explained it to the father. But suppose he had never found out, and the child had long carried the hurt in his soul? What then?
Some parents will deal severely when an accident occurs; a broken dish, a lost tool, the errand forgotten, all these are punished in anger. The offender is scolded, cuffed, and blamed. The father and mother seem to forget that they sometimes break or misplace articles, also that they sometimes forget. A safe rule to follow is never to discipline a child when angry, or when unable to exercise self-control.
“Those who desire to control others must first control themselves. To deal passionately with a child or youth will only arouse his resentment. When a parent or teacher becomes impatient, and is in danger of speaking unwisely, let him remain silent. There is wonderful power in silence.” Education page. 292.
When children are told that if they disobey a penalty must follow, be sure to keep the promise. They remember such promises even though they seek to evade their fulfillment. The wise parent will “forbear threatening,” will be very careful in stating what consequences will follow disobedience; but when a promise has been made, it must be kept, unless some very good reason can be given for not keeping it.
The child is to be pitied whose parents have tongues like Gatling guns. Before the volleys of wrathful, faultfinding words, children flee anywhere to escape the pitiless storm. Loud, angry tones and threatenings are not in place in the Christian home. …
It is wise to do our utmost to prevent the use of harsh measures in discipline. If the rod must be used, it should never be used publicly. Certainly the parents will suffer with their erring child. They will explain why he must suffer. They will tell of their love for him, their desire that he may be obedient to them and to God. They will pray with and for him. They will accept the child’s repentance and freely pardon him. If in any way they have been wrong, they will confess it. The lesson will thus be deeply impressed, that sin always brings suffering.
Herbert D. Ward tells in the Independent how his father dealt with him on one occasion:
I love to play, and so joined the “Clan.” This aggregation of boy dynamite was composed of about ten members of the same ages. We were in every innocent mischief conceivable, and the pace was rapidly getting faster. We
even got so far as to play pool. … We often played cards, having parties in each other’s houses when the families were out. …
“MERCY REJOICETH AGAINST JUDGMENT”
Let mercy be mingled with justice in all our relationships. “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.”
In “Quiet Talks on Home Ideals,” S.D. Gordon illustrates this text with an incident which was related by one of the two boys concerned, after he had grown to manhood:
Once I saved my brother Tom a promised whipping for leaving down the bars when he went after the cows at milking time, thus giving the young cattle left in the pasture a chance to get out, which they always improved. If
they were at the back of the lot when Tom got the cows, he thought it unnecessary to put up the bars; it would be so short a time before the cows would be driven back.