Home Atmosphere

Before I ever had a child, I was the director of a preschool for several years. Time and time again, I would hear parents say, “Kids don’t come with an instruction manual, you know!”

I used to laugh at the saying. Now that I’m a mother, I understand. As I read my Bible, though, I’ve learned one important thing: God did give us an instruction manual – a comprehensive instruction manual – not only for salvation and how to live our lives, but how to translate that into child rearing.

There are many Bible passages that talk about how we are to treat each other. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes a letter to the “brethren” and reminds them about how he and his co-laborers had behaved while among them. In fact, Paul outlined how he had not behaved, then how he had behaved. Interestingly enough, he compares himself to a nursing mother and a father who comforts, charges and exhorts his children.  Placed in the context of parenting, an interesting picture evolves as to how we should be parenting, verses how we should not be parenting. In brief, Paul writes:

We suffered and were shamefully treated, but boldly spoke unto you the gospel entrusted to us of God even with much contention. Our counsel was not deceitful, nor unclean (unchaste, sinful) nor in guile (sly, crafty); not as pleasing men (pacifying, placating). We used no flattering words or the cloak of covetousness (greediness; trying to get something without asking; causing others to feel sorry for us thereby showering us with desired items). We sought not glory of men nor were we burdensome (1 Thessalonians 2:1-6).

But we were gentle among you, even as a nursing [mother] cherishes her children: Being affectionate and desirous to impart the gospel of God and our own souls to you, we labored day and night to teach you the gospel of God. We have behaved ourselves holy, justly, unblameably (commendably). We have exhorted (commanded) and comforted and charged (instructed) you as a father does his children that you would walk worthy of God’s kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:7-13).

Paul also writes that fathers are not to provoke children to wrath but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, “lest they become discouraged” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

Placed alongside the myriad of texts counseling parents on how to teach and train our children, these verses elaborate on the home atmosphere most conducive to bringing up a child in the way he should go so that when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Our children are our glory and joy; we want them to receive the word of God as truth (1 Thessalonians 2:13, 20).

Remember that just as you are in your family, so you will be in the church. Just as you treat your children, so will you treat Christ. If you cherish an un-Christlike spirit, you are dishonoring God.... {SD 255.3}

© 2012, C. Gillan Byrne

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1White, E. G. (1955). Influence of a Christian Life at Home (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Sons and Daughters of God (p. 255). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

1 Thessalonians 2:2-13, 20 (King James Version)

Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)

Colossians 3:21 (KJV)

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

Complete Published writings of EGW

Bible Gateway website for KJV