Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous walk in integrity—blessed are the children after them!”
It is a wonderful thought to consider that a life of integrity can result in the happiness and blessedness of one’s children after them. Whether parents are sensitive to this principle or not, they have the responsibility to provide and care for their children. Most parents will demonstrate this through the physical provision for their children like the food they eat and clothes they wear, making sure they have a safe place to live and grow up, hopefully into productive adults.
However, parents also have a responsibility to be examples of integrity before their children; they must walk in their integrity, not just preach it. The Hebrew word for walk can mean to go or come, to travel or traverse, but it also means a manner of life or how one lives out their life.
Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of Yahweh one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge.”
Psalm 112:1-2 – Praise Yah! Happy is the person who fears Yahweh, taking great delight in his commands. His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Parents need to provide the opportunity not only for a physical refuge for their children, but a spiritual one. By demonstrating their faith in their everyday dealings, the children can tangibly understand what it means to truly fear Yahweh and to place one’s trust in him.
Now, these admonitions to live a life of integrity are not guarantees that one’s children will follow in the faithful footsteps of their parents. Unfortunately, there are many examples of great heroes of the faith whose children took a different, and sometimes opposite path.
Samuel was a great prophet of God, but his sons were wicked deceivers.
1 Samuel 8:1-3 – “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His firstborn son’s name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. However, his sons did not walk in his ways – they turned toward dishonest profit, took bribes, and perverted justice.”
David is considered a man after God’s own heart, and yet his sons did not all follow in his righteous ways. Absalom attempted a popular coup to usurp David, his own father, as king.
2 Samuel 15:6, 10 – “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. … Then Absalom sent agents throughout the tribes of Israel with this message: “When you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, you are to say, ‘Absalom has become king in Hebron! ‘ “
Jotham was a faithful king and did what was right, but his son Ahaz was so wicked as to even sacrifice his own son.
2 Kings 15:32, 34, 38; 16:2-3 – “In the second year of Israel’s King Pekah son of Remaliah, Jotham son of Uzziah became king of Judah. … He did what was right in Yahweh’s sight just as his father Uzziah had done. … Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his ancestor David. His son Ahaz became king in his place. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of Yahweh his God like his ancestor David but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites.”
As disheartening as these examples may be, they stand to remind us that there are no guarantees that children will be faithful to the same spiritual standards that are laid out for them by their parents. However, that does not relieve parents of their obligation to live righteously and uphold those spiritual standards for their children.
Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.”
Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Just as parents want to provide their children the best odds at being successful and productive in life, we must also provide them the best odds at becoming faithful and active within God’s kingdom. This can only be done when we also walk and live faithfully and actively with God in our exemplary lives before them.
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