Summary: What can a healthy parent do that will help their children have all that God wants them to have?

One teenager was talking to his friend: “I'm worried to death about my parents. My dad slaves at his job, pays all the bills & sees to it that I never have need of anything. He is putting away money for my college education. My mom just works day and night washing my clothes and preparing my meals and picking up after me and taking care of me while I'm sick.” And then his friend said, “So… what are you so worried about?” And the boy replied, “I'm afraid they might try to escape.”

This morning we’re going to talk about healthy parents. By definition, a healthy parent wants what is best for their child. They try to keep their kids fed, clothed and educated. They wash clothes, prepare meals, do “bus service”, nurse them back to health. and encourage their children to reach their full potential. They understand their children depend on them

But before we get into how that all plays out, we need to address a couple issues.

1st – a healthy parent isn’t always a successful parent. I know Proverbs says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) But from experience… and from Scripture, we know that this doesn’t always happen.

One commentator (John Gill) explained that many scholars believe this verse means that: A child will “not easily, nor ordinarily (depart from how he’s been trained to go, but) there are exceptions to this observation. Generally, where there is a good education, the impressions of it do not easily wear off, nor do men ordinarily forsake a good way they have been brought up in.”

In other words, Solomon’s advice was generally true, but there are exceptions.

ILLUS: Ezekiel 18 (for example) proposes that very idea. “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what just and right… And suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood, etc.” (Ezekiel 18:5 & 10) What that implies is that there are exceptions to Proverbs 22:6.

ILLUS: And one of the most prominent exceptions to Proverbs principle is Jesus’ story of the Prodigal son. The Father in that parable was God, but He had 2 sons who were disappointments. The youngest son (the prodigal) runs off and squanders his inheritance a selfish lifestyle. And (in Jesus parable) the youngest “prodigal son” was intended by Jesus to represent all the folks who had damaged their lives by how they lived.

But when the prodigal son repents and come homes, the OLDEST boy pitches a fit, because he doesn’t think that his younger brother should have been forgiven. In Jesus’ parable, the oldest boy represented the Pharisees who were sinful in their hatred towards sinners whom they felt never deserved forgiveness. Unlike the crowds of “sinners” gathered at Jesus feet… the Pharisees didn’t repent of their sin!

Both sons had sinned in the parable, and that echoes what Romans says about all of us: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) The thing is (as in the parable) some folks are wise enough to repent.

Now, here’s the problem: If God was the father of that story… why did His children behave so badly? Why weren’t ALL of His creation good and obedient children?

Well, it comes down to free will. All children (when they grow up) have choices they’ve got to make. If a child of GOOD PARENTS make bad choices… that’s on them, not the parents. But God expects healthy parents to do everything they can to help their children make good choices.

So, the first issue that we have to understand about Healthy parenting is this: Even HEALTHY parents can end up with unhealthy kids.

The 2nd issue we need to understand is: What the WORLD thinks of as a healthy parent isn’t always healthy. The world has different standards/ different priorities for what they think GOOD parents should be like. And those standards/priorities will often be different than God’s. Jesus, for example said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26

You see, the problem for too many parents (even Christian parents) is that they want what the WORLD thinks is best for their child. They want their children to have the WHOLE WORLD and sometimes they pursue that at the risk of forfeiting God. They want the “best education”, the “best entertainment”, the “best activities” (at school and otherwise)… often at the cost of missing out on church.

Does the child have an outside activity on Sunday morning? Well, we’ll just have to miss church. Does the child have an activity on Wednesday night? Forget youth group.

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