Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 10, 1894

Parents and Children to Be Agents for God

By Mrs. E. G. White

The father is priest in his own household. Whatever may be the character of his business, it is not of so great importance that he be excused in neglecting the work of educating and training his children to keep the way of the Lord. In the morning his first duty should be to conduct family prayer, offering up supplication and thanksgiving to God. Parents should make the seasons of prayer as interesting as possible, selecting scriptures that can be understood by the children and youth. They should pray with fervency, but not to such a length as to make the seasons of prayer tedious. Educate your children by your own practice to pray in a clear, distinct voice, lifting up their faces, and offering up their simple petitions, or repeating the Lord's prayer.

The religious service of the home should not be governed by circumstances. Prayer should not be offered occasionally, and, when a large day's work is to be done, neglected, as though it was of no especial consequence. Prayer means very much, and we should come to God offering up thanksgiving before him. “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.... O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”

The Lord has committed to parents a special and important work, of which they have a very faint realization. At the birth of every child they are to hear the voice of God saying to them, “Take this child and train it for me.” This work of training is to be continued through babyhood, childhood, and youth. Those who are parents need to awake from their deathlike slumber, that they may have a realization of what are their God-given responsibilities. Let them make straight paths for their feet upward and onward toward heaven, and lead their children in safe paths. To a great extent the simplicity of pure godliness is a matter of the past.

To train children to walk in the narrow path of purity and holiness is thought an altogether odd and old-fashioned idea. This is prevalent even among parents who profess to worship God, but their works testify that they are worshipers of mammon. They are ambitious to compete with their neighbors, and to compare favorably, in the dress of themselves and their children, with the members of the church to which they belong.

Children derive life and being from their parents, and yet it is through the creative power of God that your children have life, for God is the Life-giver. Let it be remembered that children are not to be treated as though they were our own personal property. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and the plan of redemption includes their salvation as well as ours. They have been intrusted to parents in order that they might be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that they might be qualified to do their work in time and eternity. If parents are negligent in doing the solemn work committed to them, they will have to meet their account at the judgment seat of Christ.

Parents, you cannot serve God and serve Baal at the same time. The standard of the world is not to be your standard. The world is under the leadership of the prince of the powers of darkness, and you cannot afford to follow its fashions and customs. Your duty is to practice God's word, and do the work that he has given you to do according to his will. God will cooperate with parents who love, fear, and honor him, respecting and obeying his commandments. Is it any marvel that society is forgetful of God, and desires not to know the way of God, when professed Christians to a large extent follow the imagination of their own heart? They are filled with vanity, and educate their children for the world. Influenced themselves by Satanic agencies, what can be expected of their children? They inspire them with their own spirit, with their own desire to be in favor with the world. They partake with the world in love for pleasure, in desire for the gratification of pride, and the desire for display. In place of being partakers of the divine nature, they imbibe Satan's deceptions and illusions. Thus their influence in the home is to mould the character of their children after the standard of the world. Though they have a form of godliness, yet their influence is wielded for the ruin of their family.

What an account will such professed Christian parents have to render in that great day when every case shall be decided! These world-loving parents profess Christ, and have their names registered in the church books, but in works they deny him. Shall not parents who truly desire to love God be partakers of the divine nature? Shall they not exert in the home an influence altogether different from that of these hypocritical professors? Shall not the love of Christ be in them as a well of water springing up unto eternal life? Shall it not be made manifest that Christ abides in the soul temple by the spirit, word, and action of the parents who realize their responsibility before God? Shall they not pour into the minds of their children that which the Lord Jesus has abundantly given them of his Holy Spirit? Shall not his love, his purity, his patience, his meekness and lowliness of heart, his perseverance, integrity, and zeal be made manifest in the character of godly parents?

The Word of God

Let parents seek to mould and fashion the intellect and affections of their children in accordance with the word of God. Let them train them in such a way that their children shall be fashioned after the similitude of Jesus Christ. Here is your work, parents, to develop the characters of your children in harmony with the precepts of the word of God. This work should come first, for eternal interests are here involved. The character building of your children is of more importance than the cultivation of your farms, more essential than the building of houses to live in, or of prosecuting any manner of business or trade. Parents should carefully study their children, in order that they may correct wrong tendencies and encourage from their earliest years right principles and proper habits. The doing of this will not require any violence or harshness in your management, but you may manifest an abundance of love. Selfishness and self-indulgence must be cultivated out of the character of your children, by revealing to them Bible requirements in the most interesting way. Unite them with yourselves in works of kindness and tender regard for the suffering and destitute. From their earliest years let them be your helpers in benevolent enterprises, and educate them in habits of self-denial and self-sacrifice for the good of others. Thus you will guard them from habits of extravagance in recklessly spending money for selfish gratification.

The work that rests upon parents cannot be evaded or ignored without peril to themselves and their children. Parents should bring principles of truth into their own life, and perfect a Christian character in order that they may present before their children such an example as will command their respect and admiration. Let parents so live that their children will have confidence in their judgment, piety, and devotion. In this way they may train their children to be missionaries from their earliest years. They may be taught to have firm reliance upon God, and may be trained by precept and example to fear to offend their Creator, to love to keep his commandments. Children should be trained to trust in God as their very best friend.

Let parents seek to impress upon children and youth the blessedness of serving God. The Psalmist says: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity; they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.”

The Importance of the Work

The word of God abounds in precious jewels of truth, and parents should bring them forth from their casket and present them before their children in their true luster. Parents, you think you have no time to do all this work; but if you do not train your family, Satan will supply your deficiency and educate them after his own Satanic order. Better to neglect anything of a temporal nature, to be satisfied to live economically, to bind about your wants, than to neglect the work of training yourselves and your children in the way that God would have you. In the word of God you have a treasure house from which you may draw precious stores, and as Christians you should furnish yourself for every good work. Look upon the family circle as a training school, where you are preparing your children for the performance of their duties at home, in society, and in the church. Seek to cultivate every power of mind and body in order that the whole family may be soldiers for Christ. Teach your children to love truth because it is truth, and because they are to be sanctified through the truth, and fitted to stand in the grand review that shall erelong determine whether they are qualified to enter into higher work, and become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.

Fathers and mothers, awake to your God-given responsibilities. Let your lamp be trimmed and burning, sending forth clear, distinct rays into the home circle, and your light will reach beyond yourselves to your neighbors. The father represents the divine Lawgiver in his family. He is a laborer together with God, carrying out the gracious designs of God, and establishing in his children upright principles, enabling them to form pure and virtuous characters, because he has preoccupied the soul with that which will enable his children to render obedience not only to their earthly parent, but also to their heavenly Father. Like Abraham, he will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. To do the words of God means to work earnestly in the home. But parents who are doers of the commands of Christ will find that the beams of the Sun of Righteousness will brighten the darkness, and the love of Christ make smooth the rough paths.

Our world is becoming as it was in the days of Noah. Parents have neglected to purify and make precious the material that God has given them in their children, and, instead of adding them to the army of the Lord, they have given them to the world. In neglecting to train them for Christ, children have developed characters after the order of Satan. The Lord will cleanse the earth the second time of its moral pollution by the fires of the last day. Parents, will you not cherish the faith that works by love and purifies the soul? If you do this, everything is gained. Your children will be imbued with the spirit you cherish, and a light will shine forth extending from the home like a genial atmosphere. Your influence will be like a heavenly radiance that shines from the throne of God in clear, strong rays, to light the moral darkness that pervades the world.

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