What is the main responsibility of parents toward their children?
Some might say to care and provide for them by giving them food, clothing, shelter, and education.
These are all good, but I have left the greatest responsibility out.
We read it this morning in our responsive reading, Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
6. "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart;
7. and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Am I saying that if we teach our children the word of God, we don’t have to do anything else?
Not at all, for if we live the word of God we will do all these necessary things, too.
Jesus has told us how all these things tie together in the commandments of God.
Listen to how He responded when questioned about the Law, and the greatest of all commandments (Matthew 22:37-40):
37. And He said to him," ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38. "This is the great and foremost commandment.
39. "The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40. "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
So, according to these words, if you truly love, you will provide for your children, simply because you love them.
But many ungodly people do the same thing. What's the difference?
If a person truly loves God with all of his or her being, then that person will most likely lead their children to God, and thus provide for their well being even after death.
That's true love!
That's the real responsibility of Christian parenting.
But the second greatest commandment affects each and every one of us as well.
We are told that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Young Anthony, whom we are baptizing this morning, is not only the son of Kamie and Tony, but he is our neighbor, too.
So, by the law of love, we, too, are given the responsibility of being Anthony’s Godparents; yes, all of us.
Sometimes adults think children interfere with their "church activities," or don’t belong in the service until they are old enough to understand.
How old was Garland when he was old enough to understand? Anthony’s age? Older? Younger?
I don’t think even Garland really knows.
But I know that the earlier a child is exposed to the ways of God, particularly by believing and loving parents, the more of a child of God he or she becomes.
Listen to what we are told in Matthew 19:13-15:
13. Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.
14. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
15.And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
Do you understand why I want the children to be a part of our service?
Do you understand why it’s important for all of us to make them a part of our church family and home?
But this also carries with it a great responsibility; for we are not to let our children just run wild here in church or during the previous six days, either. We are to lovingly focus them upon God and the ways of the Lord.
Thus, they will begin to desire to be in the presence of Jesus, for His loving Word will bring joy to their hearts.
In this light, listen to what Mark tells us that Jesus did (9:36-37):
36. And taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
37. "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."
Do we really hear what this is telling us?
Unless we receive all our children, not just our own offspring, in the name of Jesus Christ, we will not receive our Father who is in Heaven, either.
And if we don’t receive Him, we have no part in Heaven, either.
But if we do receive these children in the name and love of Jesus, miracles can and do happen.
Listen to Tony, as he relates how his life was affected by receiving just one child…(Tony told of how his nephew, Garland, at the age of 4, open his heart and mind to Jesus, when he came to live with them after his mother died.)
This is all part of God’s love for us; and the more we learn to love, the more of these miracles of love we encounter and recognize.
This leads us to our mutual life in Christ.
Listen to what we are told in Luke 6:36-49:
36. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37. "And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon and you will be pardoned.
This applies both to adults and children.
In love, we can recognize each other’s faults.
And in love, we can help each other to change our faults into assets.
And in love, we will receive these loving corrections for our own lives.
38."Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
We have an expression, that what goes around, comes around.
The messages and actions we send out into the world have a way of finding their way back into our laps.
39. And He also spoke a parable to them: "A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?
40. "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.
Our primary teacher is Jesus Christ.
If we apply ourselves, in love, to His teaching, we will become like Him.
41. "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
42. "Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
In the over eight years I have been with you, have you ever heard me find fault with any of you, without also pointing the same finger at myself?
We all have faults, and we have all fallen short of the Glory of God; but together, as a family in Christ, we can become more like Him – we and our children.
43. "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.
44. "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.
45. "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
I doubt if any of us, when we go to the supermarket, deliberately pick out the rotten fruit to bring home.
We select the best of the lot to bring home and feed upon.
Then why is it that so many Christians feed upon the rotten and ungodly fruit of this world, when the good is within our reach as well?
46. "And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
47. "Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like:
48. he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49. "But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."
Kamie and Tony don’t want Anthony to grow up without a good foundation.
They want him to be able to withstand the torrents of evilness that might burst against him later in life.
They want him to grow up as a child of God.
So today, they have come before us, seeking our help as fellow loving parents of God’s family, to lay this lasting foundation with them as we, together, baptize their son.
Will you accept this responsibility?
I pray so…
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