Our Children—A Precious Inheritance
“Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.”—PSALM 127:3.
1. How did the first human baby come to be born?
CONSIDER the miraculous events that Jehovah God made possible by the way he created the first man and woman. Both the father, Adam, and the mother, Eve, contributed a part of themselves that developed within Eve’s womb into a fully formed new person—the first human baby. (Genesis 4:1) Down till today, the conception and birth of a child fill us with wonder and are described by many as nothing short of a miracle.
2. Why would you say that what occurs inside the womb of a pregnant woman is a miracle?
2 Within some 270 days, the original cell that was created within the mother as a result of her union with the father grows into a baby made up of trillions of cells. That original cell has within it the instructions needed to produce more than 200 kinds of cells. Following those marvelous instructions, which are beyond human understanding, these cells of stunning complexity develop in just the right order and manner to form a new living person!
3. Why do many reasoning people agree that God must be responsible for the birth of a new living human?
3 Who, would you say, is the real maker of the baby? It is surely the One who created life in the first place. The Bible psalmist sang: “Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 100:3) Parents, you well know that it is not because of any brilliance on your part that you have produced such a precious little bundle of life. Only a God of infinite wisdom could be responsible for the miraculous formation of a new living human. For thousands of years, reasoning people have credited the formation of a child inside its mother’s womb to the Grand Creator. Do you?—Psalm 139:13-16.
4. What human fault could never be ascribed to Jehovah?
4 Is Jehovah, though, an unfeeling Creator who simply instituted a biological process whereby men and women could produce offspring? Some humans are unfeeling, but Jehovah is never like that. (Psalm 78:38-40) The Bible says at Psalm 127:3: “Look! Sons [and daughters as well] are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” Let us now consider what an inheritance is and what it gives evidence of.
An Inheritance and a Reward
5. Why are children an inheritance?
5 An inheritance is like a gift. Parents often work long and hard to leave their children an inheritance. It may consist of money, property, or perhaps some treasured possession. In any case, it is evidence of a parent’s love. The Bible says that God has given parents their children as an inheritance. They are a loving gift from him. If you are a parent, would you say that your actions show that you view your little ones as a gift that the Creator of the universe has entrusted to you?
6. What was God’s purpose for enabling humans to have children?
6 Jehovah’s purpose in granting this gift was to have the earth populated with the descendants of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Isaiah 45:18) Jehovah did not individually create every human, as he did the millions of angels. (Psalm 104:4; Revelation 4:11) Instead, God chose to create humans with the ability to produce children who would resemble their parents in identifiable ways. What a marvelous privilege it is for a mother and father to bring forth and care for such a new person! As parents, do you thank Jehovah for making it possible for you to enjoy this precious inheritance?
Learn From Jesus’ Example
7. In contrast with what some parents do, how did Jesus show interest in and compassion for “the sons of men”?
7 Sad to say, not all parents consider children a reward. Many show little compassion for their offspring. Such parents do not reflect the attitude of Jehovah or of his Son. (Psalm 27:10; Isaiah 49:15) In contrast, consider Jesus’ interest in young ones. Even before Jesus came to earth as a human—when he was a mighty spirit person in heaven—the Bible says that his “fulness of delight was with the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:31, Rotherham) His love for humans was so great that he willingly gave his life as a ransom so that we might receive everlasting life.—Matthew 20:28; John 10:18.
8. How did Jesus set a good example for parents?
8 While on earth, Jesus set an especially fine example for parents. Consider what he did. He took time for children, even when he was very busy and under stress. He watched them at play in the marketplace and used aspects of their behavior in his teaching. (Matthew 11:16, 17) During his final trip to Jerusalem, Jesus knew that he would suffer and be killed. So when people brought little ones to see him, Jesus’ disciples, perhaps in an effort to protect Jesus from further stress, tried to turn the children away. But Jesus reprimanded his disciples. Showing his “fulness of delight” with little ones, he said: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them.”—Mark 10:13, 14.
9. Why may what we do be even more important than what we say?
9 We can learn from Jesus’ example. When young ones come to us, how do we respond—even when we are busy? As Jesus did? What children need, especially from their parents, is what Jesus was willing to give them—his time and attention. True, such words as “I love you” are important. Yet, actions speak louder than words. Your love is manifest not only by what you say but even more so by what you do. It is shown by the time, attention, and care that you provide your little ones. Doing all of that, however, may not produce tangible results, at least not as quickly as you would hope. Patience is required. We can learn patience if we imitate the way Jesus dealt with his disciples.
Jesus’ Patience and Affection
10. How did Jesus teach his disciples a lesson on humility, and with what success at first?
10 Jesus was aware of the ongoing competition for prominence among his disciples. One day, after arriving in Capernaum with his disciples, he asked them: “‘What were you arguing over on the road?’ They kept silent, for on the road they had argued among themselves who is greater.” Instead of harshly reprimanding them, Jesus patiently provided an object lesson in an effort to teach them humility. (Mark 9:33-37) Did it produce the desired results? Not immediately. Some six months later, James and John put their mother up to requesting from Jesus prominent positions in the Kingdom. Again, Jesus patiently corrected their thinking.—Matthew 20:20-28.
11. (a) What customary task did Jesus’ apostles fail to perform after arriving in an upper room with Jesus? (b) What did Jesus do, and were his efforts successful at that time?
11 Soon the Passover of 33 C.E. arrived, and Jesus met privately with his apostles to celebrate it. On arriving in the upper room, not one of the 12 apostles took the initiative to perform the customary service of washing the dusty feet of the others—the menial task of a servant or of a woman in the household. (1 Samuel 25:41; 1 Timothy 5:10) How it must have grieved Jesus to see that his disciples continued to show evidence of aspiring to rank and position! So Jesus washed the feet of each one and then earnestly appealed to them to follow his example of serving others. (John 13:4-17) Did they? The Bible says that later that evening “there also arose a heated dispute among them over which one of them seemed to be greatest.”—Luke 22:24.
12. How might parents imitate Jesus in their efforts to train their children?
12 When your children fail to respond to your counsel, do you parents appreciate how Jesus must have felt? Note that Jesus did not give up on his apostles, though they were slow in correcting their shortcomings. His patience eventually bore fruit. (1 John 3:14, 18) Parents, you do well to imitate Jesus’ love and patience, never giving up in your efforts to train your children.
13. Why should a parent not gruffly dismiss a child’s inquiry?
13 Young ones need to sense that their parents love them and are interested in them. Jesus wanted to know what his disciples were thinking, so he listened when they had questions. He asked them what they thought about certain matters. (Matthew 17:25-27) Yes, good teaching includes attentive listening and genuine interest. A parent should resist any inclination to put off an inquiring child with a gruff: “Go away! Can’t you see that I am busy?” If a parent really is busy, the child should be told that the matter will be discussed later. Parents must then make sure that it is discussed. In this way the child will sense that the parent really is interested in him, and he will more readily confide in the parent.
14. What can parents learn from Jesus about showing affection to their children?
14 Can parents appropriately show their affection by putting their arms around their children and hugging them? Again, parents can learn from Jesus. The Bible says that he “took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” (Mark 10:16) How do you think the young ones responded? Surely their hearts were warmed, and they were drawn to Jesus! If there is genuine affection and love between you parents and your young ones, they will respond more readily to your efforts to discipline and teach them.
The Question of How Much Time
15, 16. What has been a popular child-rearing concept, and what apparently prompted it?
15 Some have questioned whether children really need much of their parents’ time and loving attention. A child-rearing concept that has been skillfully promoted is called quality time. Advocates claim that children do not need a lot of their parents’ time as long as the limited time spent with them is meaningful, well-thought-out, and planned. Is the quality-time concept a good one, conceived with the welfare of young ones in mind?
16 One writer who had spoken with many children said that what they “wanted most from their parents was more time,” along with “undivided attention.” Significantly, one college professor observed: “The term [quality time] has grown out of parental guilt. People were giving themselves permission to spend less time with their children.” How much time should parents spend with their children?
17. What do children need from their parents?
17 The Bible does not say. However, Israelite parents were urged to speak with their children when they were in their house, when they walked on the road, when they lay down, and when they got up. (Deuteronomy 6:7) This clearly means that parents need to interact with children and to teach them constantly each day.
18. How did Jesus take advantage of opportunities to train his disciples, and what can parents learn from this?
18 Jesus successfully trained his disciples as he ate with them, traveled with them, and even relaxed with them. He thus took advantage of every opportunity to teach them. (Mark 6:31, 32; Luke 8:1; 22:14) Similarly, Christian parents should be alert to use every opportunity to establish and maintain good communication with their children and to train them in Jehovah’s ways.
What to Teach and How to Do It
19. (a) What is needed besides spending time with children? (b) What do parents primarily need to teach young ones?
19 Simply spending time with children and even teaching them is not all there is to rearing them successfully. Vital, too, is what is taught. Notice how the Bible emphasizes what this should be. “These words that I am commanding you today,” it says, “you must inculcate . . . in your son.” What are “these words” that children need to be taught? Evidently, they are the words that had just been mentioned, namely: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7) Jesus said that this is the most important of all God’s commandments. (Mark 12:28-30) Parents primarily need to teach young ones about Jehovah, explaining why he alone is worthy of our whole-souled love and devotion.
20. What were parents of old commanded by God to teach their children?
20 However, “these words” that parents are urged to teach their children include more than simply to love God with one’s whole self. You will notice that in the preceding chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses restates the laws that God wrote on tablets of stone—the Ten Commandments. These laws include commands not to lie, not to steal, not to murder, and not to commit adultery. (Deuteronomy 5:11-22) So the need to impart moral values to their children was impressed upon parents of old. Christian parents today need to provide their children with similar instruction if they are to help them to have a secure, happy future.
21. What was meant by the instruction to “inculcate” God’s word in young ones?
21 Note that parents are told how they are to teach “these words,” or commandments, to their young ones: “You must inculcate them in your son.” The word “inculcate” means “to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions: urge on or fix in the mind.” So God is, in effect, telling parents to institute a planned program of Bible instruction that has the express purpose of impressing spiritual matters on the minds of their children.
22. What were Israelite parents told to do to instruct their children, and what did that mean?
22 Such a planned program takes parental initiative. The Bible says: “You must tie them [“these words,” or commandments of God] as a sign upon your hand, and they must serve as a frontlet band between your eyes; and you must write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:8, 9) This does not mean that parents should literally write God’s laws on doorposts and gates, tie a copy of them on the hands of their children, and place one between their eyes. Rather, the point is that parents should constantly keep the teachings of God before their children. Teaching their children should be done in such a regular, constant way that it is as though God’s teachings are right there before the children all the time.
23. What will be considered in next week’s lesson?
23 What are some especially important things that parents need to teach their children? Why is it vital today that children be both taught and trained to protect themselves? What assistance is now available to parents to help them teach their children effectively? These and other questions that concern many parents will be considered in the following article.
How Would You Answer?
• Why should parents consider their children precious?
• What can parents and others learn from Jesus?
• How much time should parents devote to their children?
• What should children be taught, and how should the teaching be done?
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What can parents learn from Jesus’ way of teaching?
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When and how were Israelite parents to teach their children?
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Parents should keep the teachings of God before their children