UNGODLY LITTLE TYRANTS”
1. Galatians 4.1-2. Please turn to that portion of Scripture and stand for the reading of God’s Word. “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; ”
2. In this passage we find ourselves on the threshold of Paul’s final expression of concern to the Galatians he has been trying to wean away from the Law of Moses. He has done just about everything you could imagine to prove that the Law was for Israel only, that it was a temporary situation, and that it affected God’s requirements for salvation not one bit.
3. Paul’s overall goal throughout Galatians chapters 3 and 4 is to defend his doctrine of justification by faith; to defend his teaching that the way a man becomes right with God is faith, period. Faith in Jesus is what’s called for by God, with no requirement related to the Law of Moses for any sinner, whether he be Jew or Gentile.
4. But a part of the apostle’s argument involves a concept and a truth that is virtually lost to modern day man, and especially modern day Christians. It is a truth that I have periodically shared with this church, beginning on the second Sunday that I was your pastor, some twenty years ago this month. The message, which I will bring again this evening, is entitled “How To Rear Ungodly Little Tyrants.”
5. The truths that I am about to present to you are important in two areas of your Christian life. First, these truths are very helpful to your proper understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. And justification by faith is God’s way of justifying sinners, so it must be important. Amen?
6. Second, these truths are of profound importance to your understanding of proper child rearing. And folks, our culture, and you are a part of our culture, is rapidly forgetting how to raise children.
7. Why “How To Rear Ungodly Little Tyrants”? Because, I fear, this is what even so-called Christian parents are doing instead of rearing their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
8. I remember, one time, listening to a man talking on the phone to his hysterical kid. I was five feet away and I could hear this kid, never mind the age, screaming at this guy. He could not get that kid under control. Let me tell you, God have mercy on any kid of mine, at any age, who ever talks to me that way. It will not happen without severe repercussions, I guarantee you. And I hope that after tonight you will unanimously agree with me on this.
9. So many professing Christians, and so many who may be genuinely converted, are so far off when it comes to rearing their own children that it actually affects not only your own, but also their, ability to understand the Word of God. I shall attempt to barely scratch the surface of this problem this evening.
10. Have you ever wondered just exactly what it is that enables two people, both raised in non-Christian homes, to then get supposedly converted, but the one serves God his whole life while the other seems to never do particularly well on the job, never succeeds in developing an effective ministry in his church, and never really does an effective job of being a spiritual leader to his children?
11. And how can you have two mothers, both of whom seem to be genuinely converted women, but one of them has a child who is obedient and responsive, while the other has a child who is plainly disobedient, mom’s words falling off that child’s back like water off a duck’s back?
12. And have you noticed how mothers these days vainly attempt to reason with their unreasonable children? As if you can reason with an unreasonable child. How successful was Neville Chamberlain in his efforts to reason with Adolph Hitler? How successfully has the United States reasoned with Osama bin Laden?
13. Is it just luck? No. There’s no such thing as luck. Are the differences in different kid’s behavior produced by variations in the children’s personalities? Oh, yes. But what produces the differences in the children’s personalities? And we will set aside our consideration of God’s work in an individual’s life in this sermon to focus on the human plane of activity.
14. I am not dealing with the hereditary aspect of a child’s behavior here, or with these various disorders that seem to pop up in western society as a convenient way of shifting the blame and providing a guilt relieving explanation for the inability of a mom or dad to control their kids.
15. You know that I am the father of an eighteen year old. I do not claim to have all knowledge regarding child rearing. But I do know some things taught in the Word of God. And I approach God’s Word as our sufficient source of truth for raising the children God has entrusted to us.
16. So, while I only have almost two decades of experience as a father, unless your children are grown and are serving God, your experience as a parent is as questionable as any lack of experience you might accuse me of having.
17. What I am is an observer. I watch parents. I watch children. I wonder why his son does not obey him and why her daughter laughs in her face when she is given direction. I take note when the parent directs the child to stop doing something and the child continues on as if there is no God in heaven to be feared. It puzzles me when children will eagerly do things for other people that they will refuse to do for their parents.
18. When I see such things I ask “Why?” But the answers to this question of why children behave thus and so I attempt not to answer from experience, mine or other people’s. When I ask “Why?” I realize that the only satisfactory answers are found in the Word of God.
19. Such a question I began asking myself years ago. “Lord, why is it that professing believers do everything the child rearing books tell them to do, and follow all of the advice they are given, and perhaps even do what their folks did, and still find themselves unsuccessful parents?”
20. After they are grown up, and kids have no business thinking they are grown up until they properly honor mom and dad at home, it is having kids who serve God after they are out on their own. Anything less than that is failure in parenting.
21. How come so few real success stories after doing all of those different things? Simple. All those people followed the advice of Bible teachers, friends, mothers and fathers. Or perhaps they just raised their kids the way that seemed right to them. But there is a principle God has given in His Word that folks have for the most part ignored.
22. And this is no surprise. Since southern California Christianity these days, as well as what we see across this country of ours, bears so little resemblance to the faith once delivered to the saints in God’s Word, it is no wonder that little attention is paid to what the Bible says about the foundational principle of child rearing.
23. May I share with you, this evening, the Bible truth I stumbled across in answer to prayer? It’s the principle of the Word of God that will go a long way toward guaranteeing that you do not raise an ungodly little tyrant.
24. If you already have raised, or are raising, an ungodly little tyrant, this principle will help you to see what to fix. Of course, implementing changes in the way you raise your children requires wisdom, so be careful you don’t make a terrible mess of things while trying to clean up a mess.
25. This principle is so effective in its application that unsaved people who apply it seem to raise children who at least have good manners, who are competent in their pursuits, and who are tremendously effective Christians after they trust Christ, even though they were raised in a home that was otherwise non-Christian.
Sound good? Folks,
this principle, as some of you already know, is great.
Let me develop it for you in three logical steps.
1A. First, LET ME BEGIN BY ESTABLISHING IN YOUR THINKING WHAT THE PURPOSE OF A CHILD IS
1B. By that I mean, what is the ultimate purpose for each child’s existence? As a mother or a father you would ask God, “For what purpose has this child been put on earth, in my home, under my care?” As a young person you would ask, “Lord, why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my function?”
2B. Dearly beloved, parents who don’t ask these kinds of questions raise bums, thieves, daughters with the morals of alley cats. They end up raising children who have no convictions, no aim in life, who find themselves adrift in a rapidly changing world that offers no stability.
3B. Young people, if you don’t ask such questions of God, and search for the answers from God in His Word, you will end up being a quite meaningless statistic. You will have no goal in your life to shoot for. And shooting for nothing, you will hit what you have aimed for. Nothing!
4B. But I’m here to tell you, this evening, parents, young people, that the children that God has placed into various homes all have a distinct and common purpose in life. That purpose is the highest calling, the most noble effort, the most distinctive honor a person could possibly have.
5B. Why are children here? Why am I here? Why are you here?
1C. Listen to what Spurgeon’s catechism, which we teach children in our school, says: “1. Q. What is the chief end of man? A. A man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
2C. Spurgeon agrees with God’s Word. Turn to Revelation 4.11 and stand, so we can read it aloud together. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
3C. You have been put here to glorify God. That is the ultimate purpose for your creation. That is your reason for being here; to give pleasure to God, to attend to Him, to serve Him. That is also the reason why children, your children, are here. It is about time they were taught their purpose by their parents. Amen?
6B. So, while some people don’t want to serve God, but rather concentrate on serving themselves and their own pleasures, he who is truly wise knows that ultimate joy, ultimate fulfillment, ultimate satisfaction comes from doing what you have been created to do.
Are you fulfilling your
purpose? Are you now training
your child or children to fulfill their defined reason for existing?
Are you? If you are,
you are on your way to being a truly successful person and parent.
But most parents and young people who are honest would answer
“No.” Not only do they
not glorify God in their lives, but they aren’t actively training their
kids to, either. As a matter
of fact, glorifying God rarely enters into their thoughts.
2A. “PASTOR, HOW DO I AVOID RAISING AN UNGODLY LITTLE TYRANT? HOW CAN I GUARANTEE THAT MY CHILD FULFILLS HIS OR HER ULTIMATE PURPOSE IN LIFE?” THAT BRINGS US TO MY SECOND POINT . . . THE PRODUCT. WHAT KIND OF PRODUCT THE CHILD IS.
1B. Though unsaved men have been arguing about such things for centuries, the Christian knows that the reason good men do bad things is because they aren’t really good men. They only pretend to be and only think they are. No one who reads the Bible with belief is of the opinion that man is basically good. Man is wicked and alienated from God.
2B. The same kind of reasoning can be applied to children, since children are also sinful according to God’s Word. Therefore, the child needs to be trained to behave in an acceptable fashion. And the way a child behaves is the direct result of what kind of product he or she is. If that child is a human being who glorifies God, he or she will behave one way. If that child is, on the other hand, an ungodly little tyrant, he or she will behave that way.
3B. Some parents have a difficult time recognizing the kind of product they are turning out. So I have compiled a little comparison of good product versus bad product. Please understand that this comparison does not measure a child’s worth as a human being, or whether God loves him. It only measures and shows whether that child is glorifying God or not.
4B. Are you ready? Here it is:
1C. Picture your family generally relaxing. Picture a typical scene at home about 30 minutes after supper. In that mental picture, is mommy serving the child or is the child serving mommy?
2C. Here’s another one. At the end of the day, assuming your kids are not infants, do you have enough energy to train your child, mom, or are you completely worn out physically?
3C. When you get your child to perform chores around the house, and most routine chores should be done by children from the time they are six or seven years old, are the chores performed incorrectly, or does your child generally do a job he’s been trained for and assigned to do correctly?
4C. Here’s one for parents of younger kids. When you tell your child to come to you, does that kid look back at you and laugh in your face while running away from you, or does your child immediately respond with obedience?
5C. Does your child expect to be given things all the time, or does your child realize that most things are earned?
6C. Is your child in control of most situations by using temper tantrums, or publicly embarrassing you, or does your child know that you are in control of him or her no matter where you happen to be?
7C. Does your child mock your commands or does he or she obey them?
8C. Are you resentful of your children and bitter against them, or are you pleased with their growth and progress and want more children?
9C. Do you help meet your child’s wants and desires, or do they help you meet your wants and desires?
10C. Is your child unhappy, or is he or she happy and secure?
11C. Does your child make messes that you clean up, or does your child make messes that he or she cleans up, or is learning to clean up?
12C. In short, parents, children, young people, who serves whom in your home? For God to be glorified, now and in the future, kids ought to be trained to serve their parents now so they will know how to serve God later.
13C. They need to know how to submit to the will of their parents now, so they will be trained to submit to the will of God later, thereby fulfilling their purpose in life of glorifying God.
5B. Mom? Dad? If you have a child who does not immediately respond to your direction, if you have a child in grade school or higher who makes messes that you clean up, who doesn’t show you the proper respect that is due a person in your position, then you are probably in the process of rearing an ungodly little tyrant.
6B. I say “ungodly” because no child who disobeys his parents is godly by any stretch of the imagination. God says “Honor thy father and thy mother.” To disobey is to dishonor. And while you allow your kids to disobey you, you are training them to dishonor you.
7B. And I say “tyrant” because that’s exactly what they are.
1C. If you, as a parent, are not in control of that home situation . . . your child is. Either dad is the king, with mom being the queen, or little sissy is the tyrant who rules.
2C. Do you have a tyrant in your home? It’s serious. I wouldn’t want your tyrant around my kid. And I don’t want your tyrant around my unsaved friends. It’s a bad testimony.
3C. You can ask my daughter to watch your kids when they aren’t tyrants anymore. They can hang out with my daughter when they are no longer the little rulers in their home. I will delight myself with their company when I am assured that they will not make my house look like your house by the time they have to go home.
4C. Do I sound harsh? I don’t mean to be. I mean to impress upon you the importance of rearing your children correctly. I want you to realize that there is nothing noble about waiting on your kids hand and foot if it means they will be unable to serve God as adults.
And I want you to realize that there is nothing cruel about raising
your kids to be competent and able to serve God.
And there is nothing cruel about your parents raising you to be
competent and able to serve God.
3A. SO, HOW CAN WE DO THE JOB OF PARENTING CORRECTLY? TO BEGIN WITH, BY NOT FORGETTING GOD’S UNDERLYING PLAN.
1B. Notice that I said “underlying plan.” I said that because God has many facets of His plan for rearing children. You are to train them, you are to teach them, you are to disciple them, you are to discipline them, you are to love them, and on it goes.
2B. All of those kinds of things are outlined and detailed in several excellent child rearing books that I can recommend to you. But I have discovered not one book that captures the basic underlying plan of God for child rearing. To be sure, every single successful parent does this thing, follows this principle. But no one seems to have put this principle in a book for unsuccessful or inexperienced parents to follow.
3B. Let us read again Galatians 4.1-2: “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; ” I want you to notice some things in this passage which every expert on child rearing overlooks . . . except God. You see, God knows the key to successful child rearing. In a word, it’s “servanthood.”
1C. In verses 1 and 2, the apostle Paul is laying a foundation for contrasting the believers of the Old Testament with believers of the New Testament era. To make this comparison Paul goes to the first institution God created, the institution of the home.
2C. But let’s put Paul’s comparison between Old and New Testament believers on hold. For this message, let’s concentrate on the principle he employs. And folks, this principle is critical to our understanding of Paul’s doctrine and to good parenting.
3C. What is it about the relationship between the parent and the child in verses 1 and 2 that is virtually unknown in families today? It’s the fact that while a child is still living at home, until he reaches adulthood, though he is his father’s heir, though he will someday inherit all of the wealth of his father’s house, he is a servant.
4C. Folks, that’s the secret. That’s the part of parenting that so many parents miss. Training your child to be a servant to you. Most parents have been conned into thinking their kids need a big brother father or big sister mother. That’s a Satanic lie.
5C. Still other parents have been conned into thinking that their children need to be given freedom to express themselves and to do whatever they want so long as they don’t hurt themselves. This is the Dr. Spock approach (which he later admitted he did not apply when rearing his own children). This is also the Montessori school approach. Both approaches to child rearing are quite simply nuts.
6C. The reason kids grow up unable to serve God is because they’ve never been taught and trained to serve their parents at home. The reason they grow up proud and haughty is because they’ve not learned the humility of servitude. The reason they grow up unable to submit to the will of God is because they’ve never learned to submit to their parents will. That is also the undeniable reality behind lazy children.
7C. Does the idea of having children be servants to you sound wrong? Does it sound immoral, or does it sound like child abuse? Just goes to show how much our concept of parenting has been influenced by antichristian humanism.
Let me ask you.
Is servitude degrading? The
apostle Paul showed it to be exalting.
Is humility humiliating to you?
Did not Christ lead the way, showing humility to be exalting?
Yet I know parents who have teenagers who have never mowed their
lawns, who have never washed the car, who have never been charged with the
responsibility to pull weeds, and who will play video games while their
mothers wash dishes!
I will never forget the scene of a disabled man repairing his roof
while his adult son sat in the house watching television. At the time I was angry with the young man.
It still infuriates me to think about it.
But the reality is that he was raised by both his mother and his
father to sit idly by while they both worked.
1. Beloved, it’s important that you train your child to serve you, instead of you serving your child; to train your child to honor you, instead of you honoring your child.
2. If you neglect to teach and train servanthood to your children, I guarantee you that instead of rising up and calling you blessed, they will bring their mothers to shame.
3. The Bible teaches that “before honor is humility.” But children do not learn humility by being waited on hand and foot by their mother as their father watches from his recliner. And they certainly don’t learn how to serve by being served.
4. Do you want your child to fulfill God’s purpose for him? Then you had better get busy, turning out the right kind of product. How do you turn out the right kind of product? By using the right kind of plan. God’s plan for child rearing.
5. And God’s plan is for a child to learn how to serve God by serving a parent who serves God. Remember, for more than 150 years the United States Military Academy at West Point taught no leadership courses. They made leaders by training West Point cadets to serve.
6. Now, does all this mean you don’t hug and love your kids? Of course not! It simply means that you don’t just love them, and you don’t just hug them, and you don’t just discipline them, and you don’t wait on them at all!
7. “But pastor, I prefer to reason with my child.” That sounds good, in theory. But to reason with a child the child has to be reasonable. What happens if the child is unreasonable? And I guarantee you that most children will be unreasonable when it comes to training them to serve. You see, it’s contrary to their sinful natures to want to serve.
8. How can an ungodly child get saved from an ungodly home and immediately serve God effectively? Simple. He had parents who demanded he serve them instead of them serving him. “Get me a beer. Go wash the car. Mow the lawn.” Little did those parents know what good they were doing for their child by issuing such orders and insisting that their children serve them.
9. How does a Christian kid grow up in a Christian home and never effectively serve God? Simple. With parents who served him, in his heart of hearts he expects God to serve him, and only with great difficulty will he come to understand that it’s his place to serve God.
10. “Billy, can mommy get you a glass of milk with your cookies? Are you finished, so mommy can put the plate and glass in the sink?” “Mom, can you come here?” “Why, yes dear, I’ll be right there.” Folks, those kinds of conversations were never heard in this country 150 years ago, or in any other country on earth. Those conversations are the sounds of a mother who is the servant of her child. No wonder she doesn’t want any more kids. She doesn’t have the stamina to play servant to any more.
11. Let me encourage you. Start your daughter washing dishes as soon as she is able to stand on a chair at the sink. Have your son mowing the lawn as soon as he can safely push the mower. Until then, let him pull weeds. Until then, let her fold clothes. Teach your kids to iron clothes. Never empty the trash yourself again unless your child is really sick. And teach them the joy of cleaning porcelain. “You made that mess boy, you clean it.” Cleaning the toilet improves a little boy’s aim. Amen?
12. Is this cruelty to young people? No. As you train young people to serve they will develop a sense of competency. There will develop in their lives a quiet confidence that comes from knowing how to do things and how to please other people.
13. More importantly, the humility that they will learn by serving you will reap tremendous spiritual dividends, for the Bible says, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
14. Who would have ever thought that in such simple words as, “Honey, when you finish folding the towels and ironing your father’s handkerchiefs, be sure and set the table for supper for tonight,” that you were preparing your daughter to receive the grace of God?
15. Who would have ever thought that you were showing your son how to be a true servant of God by saying, “Son, when you finish washing and cleaning out the car, I want you to mow and rake the back yard”?
16. Young person, buck this principle and you’ll never be anything for God. Buck this principle and you’ll have great difficulty understanding certain Biblical truths. Attempt to insist on an allowance for chores around the house and you will only be a hireling and will never be the servant God wants you to be trained to be.
17. Parents, balk at this truth and you will not have the foundation that Paul builds much of Galatians chapter 4 on. Balk at this and you will be ignorant of so much of the Word of God. Balk at this and you will not train your kids properly.
18. You know that you can’t trust Christ for your child. But you can train and mold his personality so that if he does get saved he will be so much more usable to God.
19. Young people. Have you been fighting your folks’ attempts to raise you right? Maybe you need to acknowledge that their efforts are born of love. Maybe you parents need to ask forgiveness of your kids for not training them properly.
20. Realize, also, that your difficulties serving God may lie in the improper way you were raised. Well, now you can correct things in your own life and get busy for God. Amen?
21. These things are so important, but they are not most important. Most important is what condition your soul is in. What good does it do to raise up a kid so he could be great for God if he got saved, but he doesn’t get saved? And what good does it do you to raise your kids up to be great Christians if you yourself go to Hell? It’s rather futile, isn’t it?
22. If you are here this evening, and you are not saved, ponder the folly of not seeking the Lord while He may be found. If you’re a parent who needs to reorient your parenting, consider that your child is racing toward adulthood. You are running out of time. And if you are a kid who needs to respond to your mom and dad, I suggest that you do so now.