Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

November 14, 1911

Patience and Forbearance in the Home

By Mrs. E. G. White

The home is a place where every heavenly grace may be developed. The Lord delights to dwell with those families who cultivate home religion, and with whom the spirit of praise and cheerfulness reigns. His people need to understand the principles that underlie the religion of Christ, and study how to make these principles the ruling element in the life. This will fill the home with sunshine. The fruit of faith will be seen in true service for Christ.

As those who profess to follow the meek and lowly Jesus, Christian parents should never permit temper to gain the mastery over them. Never should they strike their children in haste or anger. When they have done wrong, and you feel that they need correcting, take the matter to God in prayer. Kneeling before the Lord, tell your Father your grief because the Spirit of the Lord has been grieved. Seek for God's blessing and guidance in the training of your children. The Lord recognizes such service as this. Christ gave His life that children and youth might learn the way of salvation. When through the aid of the divine Spirit parents succeed in turning their young hearts to Him, God and angels rejoice.

Let parents remember that the example they set in the daily deportment, their children will follow. Many lead their children into disorderly ways by their own harsh methods and injudicious words. By scolding and fretting they close the hearts of their children against them. By words of faultfinding and by hasty punishment they raise barriers between themselves and their children that often are never broken down. No truth does the Bible set forth in clearer light than the peril of even one departure from right,—peril both to the wrong-doer and to all whom his influence shall reach. Example has wonderful power; and when cast on the side of evil tendencies, it becomes well-nigh irresistible.

To a large degree parents are responsible for the tendencies to wrong that appear in their children. Let them consider this as they endeavor to correct the evils in their dispositions; and let them remember that scolding will accomplish nothing in the formation of Christian character. It will never bring about reformations, nor lead the youth to desire to become Christ's chosen ones.

By gentleness and patience, seek to win your children from wrong. Seek God for wisdom to train them so that they will love you and love God. When it is necessary to refuse them their desires, show them kindly that in doing this you are seeking their highest good. Love and cherish your children; but do not allow them to follow their own way, for this is the curse of the age in which we live. Show them where they make mistakes, and teach them that if they do not correct these wrongs, they can never be given a place in the mansions that Jesus is preparing for those who love Him. In this way you will retain their love and confidence. All too seldom is loving, Christlike instruction given in the homes of our people. Our children are the property of Christ. They are entrusted to our care that they may be guided in right ways and strengthened in every right principle.

When you are tempted to scold and fret, put a guard on your lips, refusing to speak words that will throw a dark shadow on the family circle. Children and youth need the influence of a cheerful example. They need pleasant instruction, not fretting and scolding, sour looks and censure. By an example of patience and forbearance, the Christian parent is to teach that evil temper and harshness have no place in the life of the believer in Christ, that these qualities are displeasing to God. As your children see you bringing into your lives the principles of truth, they too will be led to fight against wrong habits and practises, and with you will reflect the goodness and love of God.

Bring the sunshine of heaven into your conversation. By speaking words that encourage and cheer, you will reveal that the sunshine of Christ's righteousness dwells in your soul. Children need pleasant words. It is essential to their happiness to feel approval resting upon them. Strive to overcome harshness of expression, and cultivate soft tones. Catch the beauty contained in the lessons of God's Word, and cherish this as essential to the happiness and success of your home life. In a happy environment the children will develop dispositions that are sweet and sunshiny.

True beauty of character is not something that shines out only on special occasions; the grace of Christ dwelling in the soul is revealed under all circumstances. He who cherishes this grace as an abiding presence in the life, will reveal beauty of character under trying as well as under easy circumstances. In the home, in the world, in the church, we are to live the life of Christ. There are souls all around in need of conversion. When the law of God is written upon the heart, and is witnessed to in a holy character, those who know not the power of the grace of Christ, will be led to desire it, and will be converted.

A solemn review is now taking place in the courts above. The thought of the decisions now being made in heaven should urge parents to diligence in training their children in the fear and love of God. Not by severe words and punishment for wrong-doing will the most be accomplished, but by watchfulness and prayer, lest they be taken by the snares of the enemy.

There are many parents among us who, tho professing to believe the truths of the third angel's message, have not the grace of Christ in their hearts. In the home they speak hastily and harshly, giving way to evil temper. They do not bring the principles of the truth into the life; and the children receive a wrong mold of character. When the judgment shall set, and these parents stand before the bar of God, what answer will they make for allowing the lives of their children to be spoiled? Then every uncorrected mistake, every unpardoned transgression, will be seen in its true light, and it will then be understood how each individual character was spoiled or beautified.

Parents are giving to their children an example either of obedience or of disobedience. By the course they follow, the eternal destiny of their households will in many cases be decided. If parents could see the results of their actions, if they could see how, by their example and teaching, they perpetuate and increase the power of sin or the power of righteousness, a change would certainly be made.

God is willing to communicate every needful blessing to parents, that they may be enabled to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But let them remember that their admonition must be the admonition of the Lord. A great deal of the admonition given does no good, but serves only to arouse the worst feelings of the heart. Parents need to labor in such a way that the children will recognize the Spirit of God in their efforts. By constant strife against the evils that beset from within and without, by the exercise of a Christlike Spirit, teach them what it is their privilege to shun, and what it is their privilege to become in Christ. With interest the heavenly intelligences are watching to see the characters these children and youth develop. They are waiting to receive them as heirs of immortality. To parents has been given the privilege to lead them to God, to receive from Him the inestimable treasures of eternity.

The lessons given to the children regarding the common duties of the home, may be presented in such a way that through them the Lord can make lasting impressions on their hearts. Make these common things of life texts on which to hang the lessons of the Word of God. Show your children that in all their work in mechanical lines they must learn to work perfectly. By bringing exactness and skill into their every-day duties, they will learn spiritual lessons that will remain with them through all their days. God requires that good judgment and skill shall be exercised in our planning and labors. In giving instruction for the building of the earthly sanctuary, the great Teacher laid down principles that were to be for the spiritual help of Israel through all their future experience. The wisdom and perfection brought into that work was typical of the work to be done in their lives in preparing their hearts for the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

Parents, do you ask what your work is? It is to take up your home responsibilities, doing the best you can, and seeking daily, hourly, to set before your children an example worthy of imitation. God's purpose for your children is that they shall be sanctified through the truth, and to reach this condition, all the help that you and heavenly agencies can supply will be needed. Let your lessons be such as will bring joy and happiness into their lives, and will lead them to desire the service of Christ. Teach them to use their God-given powers in His service. Thus they will be following the example of the child Jesus.

The Lord has a work for all to do. Every family that has a knowledge of the truth for this time, is to make it known to others. The Lord's people are to get ready for the doing of a special work. The children as well as the older members of the family are to act their part in seeking to save those who are perishing. From His youth Christ was, to all with whom He associated, an influence that drew them toward higher things. So the youth today may exert a power for good that will draw souls to God.

Parents need to appreciate more fully the responsibility and honor that God has placed upon them, in making them, to the child, the representative of Himself. The character revealed in the contact of daily life, will interpret to the child, for good or for evil, those words of God:

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”

Happy the child in whom such words as these awaken love and gratitude and trust; the child to whom the tenderness and justice and long-suffering of father and mother interpret the love and justice and long-suffering of God; the child who, by trust and submission and reverence toward his earthly protectors, learns to trust and obey and reverence his God. He who imparts such a gift, has bestowed a treasure more precious than the wealth of all the ages,—a treasure as enduring as eternity.

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