SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Jesus Grew Up in a Home with Parents who Honored God
Key Verse: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
n Luke 2:52
The early spiritual training of young children is more important than many parents understand. Though Luke’s focus in this story is on Jesus, we must not overlook the crucial role that Joseph and Mary played in the childhood of our Lord.
They provided a godly atmosphere in their humble home that helped Jesus to grow strong spiritually. Joseph and Mary set the example. They trusted God. Surely Jesus learned easily to trust God while growing up, physically and spiritually, in a home where God was honored.
The most reprehensible statement I ever hear parents make goes something like this: “We are going to allow our children to grow up and decide for themselves what to believe about God and religion.” How pitiful is this copout attitude!
These same parents would not think of waiting until their children were grown to let them decide if they wanted to brush their teeth or wash their hands.
Children are like clay in the hands of their parents. This is obviously God’s plan, for helpless little children to be guided and shaped by wise and loving parents. To fail to see this is to be blind to God’s plan for the family.
In one significant way, I have not been a popular counselor for young couples preparing for marriage. The pastor’s role is to prepare a couple not for a wedding but for a lifelong marriage.
For years I have not hesitated to ask couples some tough questions:
“Do you plan to have children?”
Usually the answer is yes.
“Then have you discussed which one of you will drop out of the work force to care for your children until they start to school?”
The silence is sometimes embarrassing. Often what I receive is a blank stare after the couple has looked at each other in bewilderment.
Why? Because for 20 years or more, young couples have embraced the cultural expectation that both will pursue careers while allowing daycare workers to care for their babies.
Though society may have established this practice as the norm, I believe Christians should challenge it, for the sake of the children.
I am acquainted with many fine people who work in daycare centers. However, I am convinced that none of these splendid people can take the place of the mother, or the father, in the early years of a child.
An infant needs the loving attention of his parents, not just a dry diaper or a warm bottle of milk. Believe me; children recognize the difference between the parent’s loving embrace and that of a daycare employee.
Look again, as Ford tells us about its popular truck, at the societal expectation that both husband and wife work. Why? The answer usually is that “We cannot afford what we need unless we both work.” I invite couples to examine that idea.
Is it not possible to live on less while making a child’s growth and development a priority? Sometimes the bride-to-be will say, “So you want me not to work during our baby’s preschool years?”
“No,” I reply, “I recommend that one of you drop out of the work force for those years; it could be your husband who would not work. The two of you will need to decide which one of you will stay home to see that the needs of your children are met.”
I never demand that a couple promise me to follow my advice. I do ask them to promise me they will seriously, and prayerfully, consider it when they have their first child. I promise them that they will never regret following my advice. Indeed, the money they give up not working will be more than compensated by the joy of knowing they have honored God’s plan for the family.
Think about Joseph and Mary. We do we know about them? They traveled by means of a donkey, not a trendy Excursion or Expedition. We do not know if it was a prize donkey, or just a plain donkey. They were poor so they did not live by a lake in an exclusive, gated community. What silverware and china did they own? Only what was available to peasants.
We do know something most significant about Joseph and Mary. They provided a home where Jesus could grow in his understanding of God, and his unique role as the Son of God. They afforded the boy Jesus with the affirmation and encouragement he needed to “grow in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”
We hear nothing of Joseph being gone from home all week because he was busy climbing the ladder of success. Nor do we read that Mary worked a day job in the village so they could make ends meet.
If children are indeed clay during the formative years, whom does God expect but their parents to handle the shaping of those little minds and hearts?
Parents in today’s world should devote themselves to God’s plan for the family with no less zeal than did Joseph and Mary! They did well what God expected. So may we, if we get our priorities in the right order! + + + + (Walter may be contacted at email@example.com)