Recently there have been repeatedly given to me messages of warning and instruction to parents, pointing out the need of diligent effort, and of seeking the Lord with close searching of heart and with earnestness of purpose. God desires us as a people to stand in a position where we shall honor Him; and we can do this only as we humble our hearts before God, bringing ourselves and our families into right relation to Him. We are safe only when we stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. Only there can God work through us to will and to do of His good pleasure, as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
The Lord desires to see both the youth and those older brought into a sacred nearness to Himself. Christ is not here in person, as in the days of His earthly ministry, to teach the youth; but it is the privilege of parents and teachers so to represent Christ in word and character that the light of heaven will shine into the hearts of the youth, and many will be converted to Christ.
Parents have a great and important work before them. With an eye single to the glory of God, they must work to fashion the characters of their children after the perfect pattern. Who is this pattern?—It is the Son of God. Christ came to this world as a human being, that He might by His example teach men and women how to bring their lives into conformity to the will of God. He speaks to fathers and mothers, saying, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Christ is to be the teacher of those who must train the youth. The law of the Lord is to be their rule of life, for this law is to be written on the hearts of the youth, or they will never obey the truth of God’s word. All the will must be yielded to God; He demands entire obedience. If the youth will learn of Him, Christ will impart to them the knowledge and wisdom needed to serve Him acceptably.
Fathers and mothers, how can I find words to describe your great responsibility! By the character you reveal before your children you are educating them to serve God or to serve self. Then offer to heaven your earnest prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your hearts may be sanctified, and that the course you pursue may honor God and win your children to Christ. It should give to parents a sense of the solemnity and sacredness of their task, when they realize that by careless speech or action they may lead their children astray.
Parents need the guardianship of God and His Word. If they do not heed the counsels of the Word of God, if they do not make the Bible the man of their counsel, the rule of their life, their children will grow careless and will walk in paths of disobedience and unbelief. Christ lived a life of toil and self-denial, and died a death of shame, that He might give an example of the spirit that should inspire and control His followers. As in their home life parents strive to be Christ-like, heavenly influences will be shed abroad in the lives of their family.
In every Christian home God should be honored by the morning and evening sacrifices of praise and prayer. Every morning and evening earnest prayers should ascend to God for His blessing and guidance. Will the Lord of heaven pass by such homes, and leave no blessing there?—Nay, verily. Angels hear the offering of praise and the prayer of faith, and they bear the petitions to Him who ministers in the sanctuary for His people, and pleads His merits in their behalf. True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence, and gives men the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to resist temptation.
As laborers together with God, parents, you are to carry out His plans for your children. This will call for continual watch-care, unceasing effort; for the enemy of souls is on the alert to lead them astray. So long as you live, your responsibility for them will not end. Your interest in their spiritual welfare must be deep and constant. But by your ministry for them, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, they may be led to see God’s purpose for them, and to accept His will for the disposition of their lives. Who can estimate the value of faithful work in the home? In the midst of difficulties and unceasing care, it is the privilege of parents to look forward to the joys of eternity, and by the eye of faith behold the reward of the faithful.
Until every member of your family is united with you in the faith, do not feel that you can relax your efforts. Through the pleasures and ambitions of the world, the enemy is working to draw the youth into his ranks, and he has much success. As we approach nearer to the close of time, he will invent every possible attraction to draw their minds into worldly channels. At this time we need a pure and undefiled religion. And if parents will make the training of their children their chief work, God will give them increased ability.
God calls us to come out from the world and be separate. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Christ declared. If we are indulging habits that unfit us for a place in the kingdom of heaven, let us in Christ’s strength overcome these habits. By our example of surrender to the will of God, we are to teach our children that if they would inherit eternal life, they must consecrate their lives to Him. If we share the joys of the redeemed in the future life, we must give no place in this life to foolishness and pride and vanity. We are to be overcomers over everything that wars against the principles of the kingdom of God.
We need to seek for a true understanding of how to train our children for the future life. At this time when wickedness is constantly increasing, we cannot afford to be careless or negligent. Our children are God’s property. Shall we let them depart from the paths of righteousness, and make no effort to save them? They have eternal life to win; eternal death to shun; and it is ours to help them to choose the good and resist the evil. When they learn to welcome the spirit of Christ into their hearts, the salvation of God will be seen in their lives.
It is sometimes essential to correct children; when this is necessary, do it in love. Show them that you punish them, not because you like to, but because you fear not to do so, lest they continue to cherish evils in their lives. Parents and children need the softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Often we do more to provoke than to win. Let your methods be of a character that they will create love. Love begets love. Do not scold. This will work counter to the results which God desires to see accomplished. An exhibition of passion on your part will never cure your child’s evil temper. Talk kindly with the children. Pray with them, and teach them how to pray for themselves. They will not forget these experiences, and the blessing of God will rest upon such instruction, leading the hearts of the children to Christ. The Lord wants you to lay hold of eternal things, and to have an experience in Christian development that will be marked by those with whom you associate. It is your privilege to give to the world a representation of the transforming grace of Christ that will cause them to wonder.
When children realize that their parents are trying to help them, they will bend their energies in the right direction. And to the children who have right instruction in the home, the advantages of our schools will be greater than to those who are allowed to grow up without spiritual help at home.
Do not be turned away from your God-given work by the fleeting and unsatisfying pleasures that the world can offer. Parents have no time to spend in parties of pleasure while their children are left to the temptations of the enemy. Say to those who invite you to join them in worldly pleasure, God has given me the work of training my children for eternity. I want them to stand by my side to help me, and I want to help them to accomplish all that they are capable of accomplishing through faith in Christ and His Word. I want to take my children with me to the city of God, to be crowned with immortal life. I want them to sing His praises in the earth made new. I cannot serve the world and accomplish this work.
Do not neglect your children for visitors. Your children should not be left to themselves because company has come to your home. Let your friends understand that your first attention belongs to your children, and that you cannot engage in pleasures that will divert your mind from the interest you should exercise in their behalf. You cannot afford to let any time pass unimproved. You cannot afford to let your children go hither and thither without guardianship or control. The solemn work given to you to do can be neglected only at eternal loss, but the reward for faithful effort is greater than human minds can compute. In winning heaven your children win an inheritance whose value is above that of any earthly possession. Great will be your satisfaction and reward in the future life when you see your children enjoying eternal pleasures, which might have been denied them, had you by the indulgence of self in this life withheld the advantages to be gained by an education in right principles and practice.
Do not spend your time in chatting on the trifling subjects of dress and fashion. Talk of the heavenly dress, the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness, which all must wear who stand in confidence before the throne of God. Talk to your friends of the truth and the requirements of God’s Word. As you make use of the knowledge you have, God will give you increased light.
We are facing events that closely precede the coming of the Lord. At this time it behooves us to be faithful, to guard well our words and actions. Let us not trifle with eternal realities. Those who would be prepared for the coming of Christ must make diligent work for eternity. They have no time to lose; for the end of all things is at hand. Let heart and mind be sanctified by the truths of the Word. Give evidence that you are preparing for the solemn events of eternity.
Will fathers and mothers work wisely for their children, helping them to form righteous characters? You with your children are to prepare to graduate to the higher grades of the school above. Then educate yourselves daily away from every tendency and practise that would unfit you to pass the test of the great examination day. Let it be seen by those with whom you associate that Christ is your pattern in all things.
Let the instruction you give your children be simple, and be sure that it is clearly understood. The lessons that you learn from the Word you are to present to their young minds so plainly that they will understand. By simple lessons drawn from the Word of God and their own experience you may teach them how to conform their lives to the highest standard. They may learn, even in childhood and youth, to live thoughtful, earnest lives, that will yield a rich harvest of good.
As united rulers of the home kingdom, let the father and the mother show kindness and courtesy to each other. Never should their deportment militate against the precepts they seek to inculcate. Parents, be in earnest in seeking to perfect in your children true wisdom,—the wisdom of righteousness. If you would do this, you must set them an example worthy of imitation. Should you be remiss in this respect, and your children fail in meeting the standard of the Word of God, what will you answer when they stand before the bar of heaven as witness to your neglect? How terrible will be your realization of loss and failure as you face the Judge of all the earth with the fruits of your unfaithfulness before you!
I cannot find words to describe to you the scenes of the judgment. I cannot represent to you how terrible in that day will be the disappointment of those who in this life have chosen to follow their own will instead of the will and way of God. The low standard of the world is not Christ’s standard. The world’s measurement of righteousness is not His measurement. Those only who in their probationary time use their capabilities to honor and glorify God will hear from His lips the benediction and welcome: “Well done, good and faithful servant:…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
To every father and mother God has given a work in soul-saving that they cannot throw upon others. In this work it is their privilege to draw from the Word of God instruction that will give help in every time of need. For all who make it their life-work to seek for the righteousness of Christ there awaits a welcome to the city of God, where they may join the song of triumph and praise, that the battle of life is over. O that we might as a people appreciate more fully the Word which teaches us the way of this wonderful salvation!
Taken from two Review and Herald articles of the same title, published on February 2, 1912 and February 8, 1912.