Summary: What does God’s word say about children and our responsibility to them. Who are the children anyway?
Today’s lesson is about family. Specifically I want to talk about children.
Let me start with a childhood story and see if I can connect with some of you kids here today. When I was growing up in North Alabama, I remember every year around this time Mom, Dad and all us kids would pile into the car and travel about an hour from Tuscumbia to Moulton for a gathering at Grampaw and Grammaw Melson’s house. Here we came to celebrate Christmas with my Mom’s side of the family. My Grampaw and Grammaw Melson had 7 surviving kids and all of them married and had lots of kids of their own. Most of my cousins came in bunches of 4 to 6. Most were boys (16 boys, 11 girls):
Uncle Calvin Melson – Lindsey and Karen (Uncle Calvin had some problems and we hardly ever saw him and his family).
Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Anne Melson – Cindy, Sandra, Butch, Mike, and Tim.
Uncle Dallas and Aunt Nadine Yeager – Sam, Tim, Tom, Ben, Mark, June.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Olean Owens – Diane, Judy, Rusty, Donna and Berry Wayne.
Uncle Dee and Aunt Sarah Melson – Kathy, Keith, Gay and Laura.
Dad and Mom – Carol, Greg, Jonathan, and David.
Uncle Billy and Aunt Anne Melson – Phillip and Phyllis.
Most of us would converge on the old home place early on a Saturday morning and all of us boys would soon be outside popping fire crackers and generally working mischief with Grampaw’s old black-smithing tools. Our parents were usually all inside visiting.
Grampaw’s house was old and drafty. It had at least four fire places and that was all the heat in the house. On one side of the house the fireplaces were closed in and a pot belly coal stove was standing there for heat. Wow, could that thing throw the heat! We had to go into the room with the open fireplaces just to cool off! I think Grammaw cooked from a wood stove until I was 8 or 9, then the Aunts and Uncles bought her an electric stove and oven. What a loss. I remember Grammaw washing clothes out in the yard in a ringer washer. You filled it with a water hose and after the clothes were satisfactorily processed, they were sent through a ringer to ring out as much of the water as possible. Then you hung them out to dry. Those were the good old days.
My earliest childhood memories include seeing Grampaw Melson pretty aggravated at us boys. Looking at things now from an adult perspective, I’m a little surprised that all of us grandkids lived into adulthood. It’s a living wonder Grampaw didn’t kill at least one of us for messing with his stuff. I believe Grampaw loved us, but I think he often got an overdose of grandsons running around his place. I remember having a healthy fear of him. But Grampaw read his Bible every evening and brought his family to church in a horse drawn wagon until mom was 16, at which time he bought a truck. I remember all of us going to Aldridge Grove Church of Christ on Sundays. When Grampaw was trying to quit using tobacco he’d have a pocket full of gum. I remember him giving it out to us kids after church. Imagine getting a family of 9 up and ready for church every Sunday! Mom told me that lots of time they’d walk. It was only two miles, but that’s a pretty good parade.
The Bible has a lot to say about parents and children. Some of the fullest pictures of the family in the Bible are in the Old Testament. There we learn how God created the family in the first place and how He designed us to work and relate with one another. The first family was not successful. The first born son of Adam killed his younger brother because he was mad about God accepting his brother’s worship and rejecting His own. The earliest family stories are terrible. After 10 generations the world is so filled with violence and wickedness the Bible actually says that God is sorry that he has made man on the earth, and decides to destroy them all in a flood. Only one man and his family are spared.
What does this tell us about the earliest families? What about the children? Does the Bible say that children are born with a clean slate? Where is that verse anyway? Listen to what God says after the flood as Noah is offering a sacrifice in Genesis 8: 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. (Some translations say, “youth”) And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.