In our seminar, Train Up A Child, we’ve been systematically, and hopefully, in a logical progression, considering principles that relate to our role as Christian parents. To our responsibilities as Christian parents. We’ve looked at what the goal of Christian parenting is, the development of a Christlike character in our children. We’ve considered that which opposes us in the realization of that goal, primarily the inheritance factors. From Adam, and more directly from us, ourselves.
Then we went on to consider our individual roles, as father and mother. Then we turned our attention to various teaching techniques that are available to us, to seek to develop in our children, a Christlike character. The first one was “Precept”. The title of that study was “Teach Them Diligently”.
The next tool that is available to us, is “Example”. Precept and Example are two that go hand in hand. At least they should, in order to be effective. And we’ll be considering why that is the case, in todays study.
The third technique, or tool, that is available to us is “Restraint”, or “Preventive” discipline. And then at times the fourth tool becomes necessary. And that scripture calls “The Rod and Reproof”, or “Corrective” discipline. I share that with you because I want you to see the direction we are headed in this study.
We are now at technique number two, Example. Precept and Example. And the title of this particular presentation is “Imitate Me”. “Imitate me” and that, as all of our titles, is taken from a scripture text. But before we turn to that text, let’s ask for that Spirit that inspired that text to bring it home to our understanding. Shall we kneel?
Father, we thank You this morning for the beautiful songs of the birds. We thank You for the stillness, for it affords us an opportunity to hear Your still small Voice, speaking to our hearts. Father we thank You for Your Word. And we pray that we would come into Your presence just now and be silent, and let You speak to our hearts, through Your Word. Speak to my heart Father, through your word, and speak to my brothers and sisters hearts here. We long to be what You want us to be, what, by the shed blood of Christ, You have made it possible for us to be. We want to be good parents, we want to raise our children to Your glory. Help us to recognize however, Father, that it is impossible to do so, unless we first allow You, to manifest Your glory through us to them. For they are imitative creatures, and they see much more readily than they hear. Help us to model for them, that character that we seek to develop in them, and guide us just now in our study, as we consider these principles. Help us to first apply them to our own lives, and then seek to apply them to the precious young lives of our children. Father, again, by creation, by redemption, by choice, I am Yours, oh that I were more than what I am, but such as I am, by the miracle of Your indwelling Spirit, use to glorify Jesus, I pray, in His name. AMEN.
“Imitate me”, where is that text found? Who said that? It’s been amazing to me to consider the fact that he could say that, and a challenge to me. The Apostle Paul said it. And he said it to the Corinthians. 1 Cor 4:16. Let’s consider though the context in which he says it. Who is he speaking to? He is speaking to his children, his “spiritual” children. Note verse 14, 1 Cor 4:14, “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved” what? “sons”. My translation says “children”. “as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”.
Now note what he says from this position of authority as ‘spiritual father’, to his children, by rebirth. Verse 16 “Therefore I urge you” what? “be ye followers of me”. The New King James says, imitate me”. “Therefore I urge you, imitate me”. Remarkable words. Do we begin to see the awesome responsibility that those words carry? Can we say such to our children, imitate me? Whether we SAY it or not, they are imitating us. And dear brother, dear sister, what an awesome responsibility that carries with it.
You see, children are highly imitative, by nature. And if you haven’t realized that, you had your eyes closed. Listen, from The Health Reformer February 1874. From the pen of Ellen White, “Little people”. I like that expression. “Little people are imitative creatures, and quickly catch the spirit surrounding them. So, if when the mothers spool of cotton, rolls from her lap”, you can tell when this was written can’t you? “the father stoops to pick it up, bright eyes will see the act and quick minds make a note of it”. Now listen to this statement? “By example, a THOUSAND times more quickly, than by precept, can children be taught to speak kindly to each other, to acknowledge favors, to be gentle and unselfish. To be thoughtful and considerate of the comfort of the family”.
Did you get that? Children are what? They’re “imitative creatures”, and therefore, “by example, a THOUSAND times more quickly, than by precept” they can be influenced. “by EXAMPLE, a THOUSAND TIMES more quickly, than by PRECEPT”. It seems that the Lord has given little children, VERY big eyes, and VERY small ears. And do you know why I think that He did that? To make sure that we as parents, practice what we preach. Because we find out in a real hurry, that if our practice doesn’t ratify our preaching, it has virtually NO affect upon our children. They are imitated creatures.
What are the principles behind this phenomena? The psychological and spiritual principles involved here, that make children, particularly, but all of us, to a degree, imitative by nature.
The first principle that we have already touched on, but we need to review in this context, is found in Prov 23:7. And it states, paraphrasing, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. What determines what we are? Is it how we behave? No. It’s how we think. I like to put it this way. “You may not be what you think you are, BUT what you THINK, you ARE.” You may not be what you think you are, but you THINK you ARE. You are what you THINK, in other words. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so IS HE”.
Now, since it is HOW we think, or what we think, that determines what we are, we need to ask ourselves, what is it then that determines how we think? Which in turn, determines, what we ARE. What is it that determines how we think?
Here is the second vital principle of psychology, 2 Cor 3:18, paraphrasing again, “in BEHOLDING, we are CHANGED”. Now how is that? It is what we behold, in other words it is what comes in through our sensory perceptions, our avenues of the soul, that programs our thought processes, and therefore determines what we are. So in beholding, we are what? We are changed. Because our thought processes are shaped by what we behold.
You see, our minds are like marvelous computers. And that which determines how a computer functions is how it’s programmed. Directly. And that which determines how our minds function, is how we program them. And the broadest avenue that leads to the mind, particularly in children, is through the EYES, through the eyes. There’s a little tiny streak that gets there through the ears, I like to think that it broadens as we get older, but there’s a great big wide paved avenue that comes pouring into those little minds, through the eyes. And that’s why they’re such imitative creatures. Their thought processes are shaped, by what they SEE, much more than by what they HEAR.
Therefore, PRECEPT MUST be backed up by EXAMPLE, if it’s going to have ANY effect at all. Our last two studies have been focusing on the importance of teaching principle. Teaching precept. But please recognize that ALL of our efforts to teach precept are in VAIN, unless those precepts are exemplified in our lives. They’re in vain. It’s time wasted.
This principle has many implications and we need to consider those together. It seems that the younger a child is, the more dramatic is the effect of what it beholds upon its character. It seems that they are most impressionable when they are younger, and that impressionableness, is there such a word?, seems to lesson as they get older, until when we are adults, we become very resistant to change. But when our children are young, particularly during the first three years, and then the next five, well the next four. Seven is the next segment that’s very significant. They are VERY, VERY impressionable.
GC 555 speaks to this concept, as we indicated in the adulthood, the process of being impressed seems to slow. “It is a law, both of the intellectual and spiritual nature that by beholding, we may become changed. The mind g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell.” The mind how? “G-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell.” You see how beholding, directly involves character development? The mind is gradually adapting itself. And what is character? It’s our thoughts and feelings (5T310). They’re gradually being adapted. It’s a slow process, but it is sure, in adulthood, but in childhood, it’s much more rapid.
Listen to this statement, ST Nov 29, 1877 “Infant children are a mirror for the mother, in which she may see reflected her own habits and deportment, and may trace even the tones of her own voice”. Did you notice that mothers? Your children are a very accurate mirror, of your deportment and the tones of your own voice. And fathers we’re not excluded from this either. How careful then, reading on, “How careful then should be her language and behavior in the presence of these little learners who take HER for an example. If she wishes them to be gentle in manners and tractable, (that means easily managed) she must cultivate those traits in herself”.
Mothers, that statement is worth writing out and putting on the refrigerator with one of those little magnets. “Infant children are a mirror for the mother, in which she may see reflected her own habits and deportment, and may trace even the tones of her own voice.” Youth are still very impressionable. CG 482 “Everything leaves its impress upon the youthful mind. The countenance is studied, the voice has its influence, and the deportment is closely imitated by them.”
Parents, what are the obvious implications of this principle? What responsibilities does it place upon us, who have children who are watching us, beholding us, and being changed thereby, to our likeness? 5T319 “Children imitate their parents, hence great care should be taken to give them correct models.” That’s the implication, the obvious implication. They are imitating us, hence GREAT care should be taken to give them correct models.
In the periodical Good Health again, Jan 1880, “The example of the parents, in word and deportment, should be without fault, for THIS is the copy which is given their little ones to imitate. If parents desire their children to be right, and do right, they MUST be right themselves, in theory AND in practice.” Precept and example. Theory and practice. Reading on, “Parents should exercise self control, patience, forbearance, gentleness and love in dealing with their children. They should remember that the example that they give their children, they will see, REPRODUCED in them.
Scripture ratifies this principle, clearly does it not? Look at the account for instance of Jehoshaphat. Here is how the principle worked, in the positive direction. 2 Chron 17:3 “Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David, he did not seek the Baals,” “He walked in the former ways of his father David”.
Another account along the positive lines, 2 Chron 26:4 “And he (this is in reference to Uzziah) did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.” But note as well how scripture records, this principle working in the negative direction.
Look at 1 Kings 22:52 “He (and this is in reference to Ahaziah) did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin.” He “walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother”, who were his father and mother? Ahab and Jezebel. What did he do? Verse 53 “ he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.” In my margin it says rather than “according to all that his father had done”, it says that “in the same way that, his father had done”. Imitative creatures by nature, children. What example are we giving them to imitate? More likely than not they will walk according to our ways.
Another implication of this principle is that our instruction, in order to have any influence at all, MUST BE MODELED. If precept, precept being verbal instruction regarding conduct. If precept is not followed by example it will have little or no influence on the child. No matter HOW OFTEN it is repeated. I insist on that. If precept is not followed by example, it will have little or NO influence on our children. No matter how often repeated.
Brothers and sisters, it is utter nonsense to say to our children, DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO. It is utter nonsense. It flies in the face of psyschological principles that they are subject to, that govern their very being. Laws. By beholding they are being changed. They are influenced, a THOUSAND TIMES more dramatically, by example, than they are by precept. How can we then possibly say, do as I say, not as I do? It’s to exhort them to do the impossible.
I read from ST Dec 20, 1877 “if the father exhibits a want of self-control before his children, how can he teach them to govern their wrong propensities? If he displays anger or injustice, or evidence that he is the slave of ANY evil habit, he loses HALF his influence over them.” Fathers, do we find we do not have much influence over our children? Is this possibly the reason? “If he displays anger or injustice, or evidence that he is the slave of any evil habit, he loses half his influence over them”.
Reading on “Children have keen perceptions, and draw sharp conclusions, precept MUST be followed by example to have much weight with them. If the father indulges in the use of any hurtful stimulant, or falls into any other degrading habit, how can he maintain his moral dignity before the watchful eyes of his children?” He CAN’T.
You see parents, if our preaching is not ratified by our practice, it looses its power. Why? For two reasons, if we don’t DO what we exhort our children to do, it tells them one of two things. It tells them either that those principles that we are trying to teach them are not really important, they can’t be, we’re not complying with them. Or else, it’s telling them that those principles are impossible to comply with, we’re not doing it. How can they?
When our practice does not ratify our preaching, we say one of those two things. Either they’re not important, or it’s impossible, so how can we expect them, to take them seriously, when we obviously haven’t. You see, what a child sees regularly, has a MUCH greater influence on him, than what he hears occasionally, or even frequently.
CG 539 “Children should be taught to respect every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Parents are ever to magnify the precepts of the law of the Lord before their children,” How do we do this, how do we”magnify the precepts” of God’s law? “by SHOWING OBEDIENCE to that law, by THEMSELVES living under the control of God.” Then precept has power, because it is manifest in a live that has accepted those precepts, and has been changed by it. “If” CONDITION, “If a sense of the sacredness of the law takes possession of the parents, it will surely transform the character by converting the soul.” Not only their own character, but I submit that through these principles, since our children are imitative by nature, it will convert our children as well, and it will transform their characters as well.
Parents, in light of this principle, is it not then logical to conclude, that the FIRST step we need to take in helping our children to develop a Christlike character is to strive, by Gods grace, to develop one ourselves. Of course, what else can we conclude? Before we can teach them to control themselves, we must learn to control ourselves, that we might MODEL self-control.
CG 459 “Before”, “Before you engage in the work of teaching your children the lesson of self-control, you should LEARN IT YOURSELF. If you are easily agitated and become impatient, HOW CAN YOU APPEAR REASONABLE TO YOUR CHILDREN, while instructing them to control their passions?” Oh parents, how absurd we are when we’re shouting at the top of our lungs in a FIT, to get our children to behave. Do you see how that just doesn’t make any sense? When they’re influenced a THOUSAND times more significantly by what they SEE, than by what they HEAR. BEHAVE, what are they seeing? They’re seeing totally irrational behavior. And what are they going to be influenced by? The command to behave? No, by what they SEE.
Manuscript 12, 1898 “Ever BE before your children, just what you would have them to be.” There’s another one that we need to write and put on the refrigerator. Write it down. “EVER BE, BEFORE YOUR CHILDREN, JUST WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE THEM TO BE”. That’s an awesome challenge isn’t it? “Ever be before your children, just what you would have them to be”. That’s found in Manuscript 12, 1898. Ever be before your children, just what you would have them to be.
Why? Because that’s the only way that they are going to be such. Because they’re imitative creatures. 5T, at the risk of over doing this folks, I think we have to come to grips with this principle. 5T319, 320 “Children imitate their parents, hence great care should be taken to give them correct models. Parents who are kind and polite at home, while at the same time they are firm and decided, will see the same traits manifested in their children.” Do you want them to be kind and polite? BE KIND AND POLITE. Do you want THEM to be firm and decided? BE FIRM AND DECIDED. Reading on, “If they are upright”, this is the parents, “honest, and honorable, their children will be quite likely to resemble them in these particulars.” (End of side A-Tape #8)
“If THEY reverence and worship God, THEIR CHILDREN, trained in the same way, will not forget to serve Him also”.
In a sermon preached on Aug 11, 1911, Ellen White made this comment. She said, “Parents, you are to exemplify Christ, in your SPEACH, AND your ACTIONS, and in your DUTIES in the home-life. YOU ARE, to a LARGE degree, RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SALVATION OF THE CHILDREN, WHOM YOU HAVE BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD. And your example before them, should be of THAT nature, that it will MOLD their characters in accordance with Divine principles.” That sums it all up, doesn’t it?
Did you get the line though, oh the awesomeness of that responsibility. “You are, to a large degree, responsible for the salvation” of your children. Is your heart convicted of falling short, in this area, as mine is?
I will confess my faults before you. As I was studying through these things, these principles, the Holy Spirit deeply convicted me, of falling miserably short in these areas, and I struggled with discouragement for a while. But rather than letting myself become discouraged, I came to the foot of the cross, and I pled for forgiveness. And my Lord has forgiven me. Then I went to my children, and I asked them to forgive me. They did too. And then I got my eyes back on Jesus, and I’m trusting Him to make me the father He wants me to be. And I’m pressing on towards the mark.
You see brothers and sisters, beware, the Devil would love to get us so totally discouraged, to get us to think that we’re blown it so bad now, that we might as well give up. Don’t listen to him, please. The Lord can work miracles. Oh there will be scares of course, that He can heal. And as you plead for forgiveness, you will be freed from that weight, and able to press on with much greater efficiency and speed. And the Lord will be able to do much to redeem your mistakes. Take courage, do not be discouraged. But PLEASE recognize that you MUST, if you are aware of making mistakes in the past, you MUST, by Gods grace, make changes. Not only for your own sakes, but for the eternal destiny of your children is at stake.
I read from MH 131 “They”, parents, “are giving to their children an example either of obedience or of transgression. By THEIR EXAMPLE and teaching, the DESTINY of their households is decided. The children WILL BE WHAT THEIR PARENTS MAKE THEM. If parents could be led to trace the result of their action, and could see how, by their example and teaching, they perpetuate and increase the power of sin or the power of righteousness, a change would certainly be made. Many would turn away from tradition and custom, and accept the divine principles of life.” And brothers and sisters, its just to that end, it’s for that purpose, that we’ve been exhorting your responsibility in this matter. Exhorting you to recognize your responsibility in this matter. Because when you recognize it, and only when you recognize it, will you come under conviction, and go to the Lord for power. For forgiving grace and enabling grace to make appropriate necessary changes. And I CHALLANGE you to do so. No matter what the cost to yourself, MAKE CHANGES. And I challenge myself that as well.
This principle, this principle that we’re speaking of, that in beholding, our children are changed. That they are by nature, imitative creatures, has very direct implications upon their associations. Particularly, those of “siblings”, their brothers and sisters. Children NEED to be impressed parents. We NEED to impress our children. And challenge them to be GOOD examples, and help them to recognize the dramatic influence that they have on each other. This is particularly true, of the older children, upon the younger. Particularly true.
Listen to this statement found in AH 185 “The elder sisters can exert a strong influence upon the younger members of the family. The younger, witnessing the example of the older, will be led MORE by the principle of IMITATION than by oft-repeated precepts.”
My children, when I pray with them at night, before they go to sleep, often have little phrases in their prayer, that they repeat. I’m trying to get them to THINK about their prayers, and to talk to Jesus as to a friend, rather than just get a composite of little type phrases. But there are some phrases that I would like to have them repeat, that I want them to repeat. And one that the two boys, particularly,Heather is a little young to pray meaningfully. But the two boys repeat this line, virtually every time they pray, before they go to sleep at night. “Dear Jesus, please help me to be a good example to my little sister and my little brother. That’s Stevie’s prayer, Ryan’s is a slight variation, Dear Jesus, please help me to be a good example to my little sister, and my big brother.
I want them to recognize their tremendous potential to positively influence and their tremendous potential to negatively influence, their siblings. And I have prayed in their hearing, many, many a time, dear Jesus, please help daddy, to be a good example to his precious children. Challenge your children.
3T 80 “What an influence a sister may have over brothers.” It’s interesting that she seems to emphasize the influence of sisters upon the brothers, the principle certainly applies with brothers upon brothers and sisters. But there seems to be a SPECIAL power that a sister has in the family to be a positive influence. “What an influence a sister may have over brothers. If she is RIGHT she may DETERMINE the CHARACTER of her brothers. HER prayers, HER gentleness, and HER affection may do MUCH in a household.” If you have a daughter, write that out for her, and share that with her, and challenge her with that concept.
This principle as well, has direct implications regarding the more general associations of our children, their friends, their peers. What is the influence of those they run around with? Is it positive? The answer to that question is directly determined by what their example is. If they are a good example, their influence will be positive, because children are by nature imitative, and by beholding they’re changed. If however, their example is negative, what INVARIABLY will be the influence? Negative. Negative. They’re little mirrors, don’t forget that. And if you send them out to run around with little demons, what are they going to come home like? Little demons.
CG 27 “CHILDREN GROW ACCORDING TO THE INFLUENCE OF THOSE WHO SURROUND THEM. If they are handled by those who are noisy and boisterous, they become noisy and almost unbearable.” You can tell that Ellen White was a mother, can’t you? She raised not only her own children, but many, many other children went through her home, and she speaks from practical experience. Did you get that practical experience thought, “Children grow according to the influence of those who surround them. If they are handled by those who are noisy and boisterous, they become noisy and almost unbearable.”
What does this say to us about baby-sitters? What does it say to us about day-care centers? Where they run all day with a mob of hoodlums? Little mirrors. What does it say to us about their classmates? Particularly when we push them out of the home, prematurely, and they run off to kindergarten? Where the ratio between adult supervision and children is so hopeless, that they can’t possibly be controlled. What does it say to us about such an environment? Oh parents, think seriously on these things. “CHILDREN GROW ACCORDING TO THE INFLUENCE OF THOSE WHO SURROUND THEM.” Beware. Beware.
This principle of beholding and being changed by what we behold, this principle that tells us that our children are imitative creatures because they have BIG eyes and little ears, has very marked implications on what we allow them to see. What we allow them to see.
Parents, I must address this issue. I’ve referred to it in passing, but we need to really focus on it, and warn you, regarding what I believe to be one of the MOST DEVISTATING influences, upon our children that exists, and altogether to often right in our own living room. And you know of what I speak. I speak of television.
CT 121 “Parents YOU are the ones to DECIDE whether the minds of your children shall be filled with ENNOBLING THOUGHTS or with VICIOUS SENTIMENTS.” Who decides that? ‘PARENTS’ do. My wife and I feel so strongly about this television issue, that part of our marriage covenant with each other was NEVER to have one in the home. NEVER. Not only for our own sake, but ESPECIALLY for the sake of our children. You see WE are responsible, We determine what will fill our children’s thought life, their minds, and determine their thought life. And if we allow, as parents, something to come into our home, that cannot BUT program their minds with that which is carnal and corrupt, and worldly, we are responsible directly before God, for the influence that that has upon their character. And on JUDGMENT DAY, WE will be punished accordingly. Oh parents, remember those are little computers. How are you allowing them to be programmed? Those are very soft plastic minds. What impressions are you allowing to be put there?
In the book MCP V2-590 we read these words, “There is NO influence in our land MORE powerful to POISON the imagination, to DESTROY religious impressions, and to BLUNT the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than” what do you suppose follows? “THEATRICAL AMUSEMENTS”. But please bear in mind when that was written. If she were writing that today, tell me what would go in there. Television and movies, and you know that.
Theatrical amusements, was simply the neophyte form of movies and television. “There is NO influence in our land MORE powerful to POISON the imagination, to DESTROY religious impressions, and to BLUNT the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than”, television and movies. No influence, rock music I would include in there too.
Parents, we’re responsible, we’re responsible to God, if we have a television in our home, that is programming those minds. Poisoning that imagination, destroying religious impressions, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE. You see, we must consider, what is the whole purpose of television programming? It’s to draw, to attract a large viewing audience, isn’t it? And if you’re appealing to the world, to the worldly mind, to the carnal mind, and trying to draw it, what have you got to offer it? You’ve got to offer it what it craves, what it desires, that which is carnal, that which is corrupt. And if allow ourselves or our children to sit in front of that and feed our minds, what invariably will happen? In beholding, we will become carnalized, we will be corrupted. We will be made more violent, more dishonest.
The imagination, I want to dwell on that for just a moment with you. What did she, theres “No influence more powerful to poison the imagination”. Children are by nature, very imaginative creatures, as well as imitators aren’t they? Oh they have TREMENDOUS imaginative powers.
We’re told in 1 Peter 1:13, however, that we are to control this imagination. Girding “up the loins of your” what? “of your MIND”. “Gird up the loins of your mind”. What is imagination? I would suggest to you that imagination is the creative review of images, imprinted upon the memory bank. Imagination is the creative review of images, imprinted upon the memory bank. Take image, and creation and put them together and you get imagination. That’s what imagination is. It’s the creative review of images that have been allowed to be placed upon the memory bank.
You see, the Lord has equipped us with absolutely marvelous faculties of memory. And it has been demonstrated, neurologically, by psychologists, that down to the finest details, sensory input is permanently recorded in the mind. They have done neuro-surgery, and I’m moving out of my field here, but I think the doctor could ratify this. They have done neuro-surgery, where the memory portion of the brain has been slightly stimulated, and a person has been enabled thereby to relive events in the distant past, down to the finest detail. All of the images they saw, reviewed upon the mind. It’s all there. The reason we can’t bring it up readily when we’d like to, is because we’re a little short on electronic power. We have one tiny fraction of what Adam and Eve had. But it’s all there, it’s all recorded.
And you see, it’s from this data bank, that the Devil loves to tempt us. And he knows just what it takes to stimulate corrupt images. And then these can start a temptation process, and we begin to be drawn away and enticed by our own lusts. Now we have to take careful measures to protect our children from such a data bank, that the Devil can use in the future. Especially when they are not aware of the principles involved. And especially when they can’t be held responsible for what they put there. You and I are held responsible, brother and sister.
Have you ever watched children out playing? What do they do? They take a stick, and they go, bang, bang, at each other like that. And then someone else grabs his side and staggers and writhes, and wiggles and finally flops over. It’s pathetic, it breaks my heart, I want to weep when I see that. What is that? That’s imagination, that’s the creative review of images, through television and movies. And our tendencies to say, ah, they’re just PRETENDING, they’re not hurting anybody. Oh brothers and sisters, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7). They may not be hurting anyone PHYSICALLY, but what about EMOTIONALLY, what about MENTALLY, what about SPIRITUALLY? What’s going on? They’re shaping their characters, that’s what going on. Just pretending. Don’t kid yourself. “AS A MAN THINKETH IN HIS HEART, SO IS HE”. And that process repeated frequently enough, can actually, sooner or later, will be able to do such a thing. If you’ve THOUGHT it enough, YOU CAN ACTUALLY DO IT. If it is not repulsive in your mind to imagine, it will not be repulsive in your mind to DO.
That’s why such atrocious crimes are committed by CHILDREN these days, BECAUSE it’s NOT REPULSIVE to them. Why? Because from two years of age and up, they’ve been watching it on television, and they’ve been imagining it out in the back yard. Forgive me for getting distraught with this issue, but brothers and sisters, we need to think on these things. What are we doing to our children’s characters, if we have a television in our home? Is it teaching them to “bring every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5)? That’s the essence of character development, “bringing EVERY thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ”.
And violence is just ONE of the evil influences, that they are exposed to, when they watch television. There’s evil passion, there’s lustful practices, there’s deceit, and the most frightening thing about it, is that it is all wrapped up in an attractive beautiful, million-dollar Hollywood wrapping. And more and more it’s the most vile and corrupt, that is the super-hero. And children are looking for hero’s. You let them watch that kind of hero, and I assure you, they will model their life after him, or her.
Oh brothers and sisters, get rid of the television, if you have one. For the sake of YOUR OWN SOUL and for that of your CHILDREN. Make a radical decision right now before your Lord, that you will get rid of that, I plead with you, on behalf of Christ. Some of you might be saying, well what about the good things? What about the good things? I submit that even that which is relatively good, is not worthy of crowding out time that you could spend with your children in meaningful relationship. In Bible study and in doing things around the neighborhood. It just doesn’t compete.
You see brothers and sisters, one of our problems is, when we approach these questions in the gray area, what about the relatively good things, we often say ‘what’s WRONG with’. If that’s our approach, what’s wrong with, invariably we’ll rationalize ourselves into approving it. But I challenge you, especially when it comes to parenting, don’t say what’s wrong with, say, WHAT’S THE BEST. I don’t want to just be in the border line, in the gray area, with my parenting, I want to be the BEST parent I can for my children’s sake. I LOVE them. I want what’s BEST for them. And when I approach it that way, is television even in consideration? The best, are you kidding, it’s out of the picture, it’s not even a question any more. And we don’t have one.
Now if there are a few things, special features, some excellently prepared nature series, we’ve got all sorts of neighbors, that love to have us come over and have us sit down and watch it. And I’ll tell you that we have done that. Sometime there’s a National Geographic special on nature, that is excellent, superbly done. And I want my children to see it. I want them to appreciate God’s second book. But you don’t have to have a television in your home, to catch those RARE events. And if you’re anything like me, don’t trust yourself, don’t trust yourself, it’s so easy to rationalize, isn’t it? Well this one isn’t so bad. And then it has a desensitizing effect, you’re not offended by it. And then all of a sudden you’re including, well, this type of program over here, and it’s de-sensitizing and pretty soon, you’re watching anything that comes along.
Oh brothers and sisters, get the alter of Satan, out of your living room, if it’s there, and OPEN the Word of God. I read from 6BC 1098 “Beholding Christ means studying His life as given in His Word. We are to dig for truth as for hidden treasure.” Go on a treasure hunt with your children. “We are to fix our eyes upon Christ. By beholding we become changed, morally assimilated to the One who is perfect in character. By receiving His imputed righteousness, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we become like Him. The image of Christ is cherished and it captivated the whole being.”
Parents, sit down with your children, and behold the loveliness of Jesus, that He might captivate their whole being. That they might “bring EVERY thought, into captivity, to the obedience of Christ”. And by the power of His Spirit, be changed, from glory to glory, from one stage of character development to another, into His lovely likeness. Let’s pray.
Father God, bring home to our heart, these principles where we need to be convicted, convict us. Dear parent, I ask you now with head bowed, has the Spirit spoken to you regarding changes that need to be made? If so, please recognize that you MUST respond. Make a decision not, speak to your Lord of this matter. Father God, You’ve heard those decisions, You’ve inspired them. If there are some who are hesitant to make it, I pray that Your Spirit will deeply convict them until they do. Help us Lord, recognizing fully our responsibility, to be models for our children, and to carefully and judiciously guard against negative influences upon their young, impressionable tender minds. Help us Father to move by principle, not by personal preference or feeling. And help us to deny self, take up our cross, and follow You with our children close behind, all the way to the kingdom, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.