“Children are a heritage from The Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” ~ (Psalm 127:3-4 NIV)

The traditional family structure consists of a father, mother and children. Mother’s role is an offspring of wife, father’s role is an offspring of husband, and together both raise and do the parenting of their children.

Today, the traditional family is in decline for many reasons, but especially because of the high divorce rate, now over 50 percent. Today, a single parent raises most children. Oftentimes it’s the mother; but increasingly it’s the father. What God wants most is for His children to be correctly guided to grow and bring honor and glory to Him.

This past Mother’s Day, God called me to address all parents, regardless of gender, who are taking on the role of raising His children. He called me to do this by teaching the real meaning of “Parenting God’s Children.”

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are gifts, a heritage from The Lord, offspring a reward from Him.” Moreover, if God sends us a mouth to feed, He will feed it if we trust Him. Children can become a great support and defense to a family.

The psalmist in 127:4 says, “Children are like arrows in the hands of warriors,” when they take flight out into the world, they are shot out of the hands of prayerfully good parents and once released it becomes too late to call them back and give them proper direction.

These little arrows in the hands of bad parents often in mid-flight turn around only to come back and shoot their parents in the heart, thus causing painful grief to their parents. These little demons are not God’s children.

Ephesians (6:1-4) gives us family instructions on how to raise God’s children. It is a word to both parent and child. Paul, speaking first to God’s children says, “Children obey and honor your father and mother.”  Then to godly parents he says, “Fathers (parents) do not provoke your children to wrath, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

If we train God’s children according to His word, generally children become well-directed arrows who grow up to be a parent’s delight. They grow up remembering their obligations to their parents. Well-raised children are a parent’s joy and crown, especially in their latter years.

If parents are patient, and do not to impose unreasonable discipline or punishments on children, and seek to insure all punishments fit the crime, children grow to become just parents and good citizens.

Both God and nature give parents authority over children, as long as the parents are subservient to God. If children are obedient to God-fearing parents, they become God-fearing adults. They become as fair to their children as their parents were to them.

By the way, Christ teaches the same lesson but is a bit sterner saying, “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother and anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. “ (Matthew 15:4).

Parenting God’s children in this way causes things to go well for all. Obedient children are often rewarded with outward prosperity, and parents become proud of their children. This may not always be the case, because there are times obedient children do meet with hardship and sometimes for no apparent reason.

For instance in Genesis 37 and 39, Joseph is an obedient child, and yet he faced constant hardships. However, as God’s child he remained obedient. In the end Joseph triumphed, becoming governor of Egypt and saving his family from famine (Genesis 41:41).

When parents cautiously counsel and correct children, they do not provoke them to wrath. When parents prudently deal with children, seeking to convince them of their wrong actions, children grow to make wise decisions. Using reason in front of kids shows them how to reason. Then they too reason well, especially when parents are not physically around.

Giving them biblically based training, using sound theological principles filled with the Holy Spirit insures we are “Parenting God’s Children.”

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or pastor@churchoftheopendoormiami.org