I received an assignment to speak on Philippians 1:27-2:4 at a local assembly as part of a series on the epistle. These verses deal with “Pressures from Without” (1:27-30) and “Problems from Within” (2:1-4).
The answer to the opposition of the world is to work together in the gospel without fear but rather to stand, strive for the gospel, and be willing to suffer for Christ. The solution to dealing with people in the assembly is to have unity, act with maturity and respond in humility. This is the mind of Christ.
Bringing up children
This passage made me think of four mistakes Christian parents may make as they seek to raise their children for the Lord. These thoughts are not explicitly from this passage but came to me as I worked through it. There is no guarantee our children will accept Christ because of their upbringing. Proverbs 22:6 is a proverb not a promise.
For those children who do believe, the following items often contribute to choices they make about fellowship and “church” attendance. Assemblies lose youth for any number of reasons but these four mistakes can be a big influence in that choice.
Setting the example
The measure of our parenting is not visible until our grandchildren are out of their home. As we raise our children, we are not only preparing them to function in the world but also to be parents of their children. Our kids watch us and either tend to copy our parenting style or go in the opposite direction.
- Criticism of God’s people. This is all too common in Christian homes. If children hear their parents complaining about other believers, it should come as no surprise that the children leave the assembly when they are old enough to make their own choices. Why would they want to commit to a group or people that their parents complain about and run down? It takes some wisdom to disagree with decisions yet to handle the issues in a godly manner.
- Contentious spirit. Conflict is neutral and it is good for children to see parents handle disagreements and work through them in a godly way. Contention is a different matter as it is a choice. When a person has the view that it is their way or the highway and bitterness develops this can affect the children for years to come. The hostility and rancour will leave a “bitter taste in the mouth” of the children and often sends them in a different direction. In my experience, this has been the cause of many children leaving a local fellowship.
- Commitment level. If Christian parents are not committed to the Lord’s work and the local Church it is not likely that the children will be. If everything else takes precedence over the work of the assembly or the commitment is to the things of the world, children are not likely to be committed to a local church in their lifestyle. The children will observe the priority on the job, hobbies, vacations, or even material things, and these priorities will likely affect the children and grandchildren. If the children and their activities take precedence this pattern may follow in the next generation.
- Consistency lacking. It is vital to display integrity, honesty and morality. Our children watch and learn from our behavior. Truth is “more easily caught than taught” so a consistent walk with the Lord is vital. Especially in areas related to assembly life, the children pick up patterns and priorities from their parents. If attendance is random, the prayer meeting not on the radar and fellowship is not important, the children will observe and likely copy this in their adult lives. In some ways we may be setting the pattern for the next two or three generations.
None of us are perfect parents and none of us do all that we should. However, the above four mistakes are areas we control. If they are issues in your lives then now is a good time to be aware of the damage that can result.