A good start doesn’t equal a great finish. Consider these:
– Purchases: Many items look desirable or start out helpful but after time they are either shelved or stop working (appliances – esp. from infomercials; computers, cars, even a house can become a bad choice)
– Dieting: Countless individuals start a diet but few sustain it for a healthier lifestyle.
– School: Each year every student starts with same grade, but they all finish differently.
– Sports: Offseason success or Preseason records do not necessarily translate to championships (just ask Wash. Redskins).
– Marriage: Relationships take constant cultivation of quantity & quality of time or else they sour.
In the book of Genesis, a beautiful beginning does not always equal a great finish. To be sure, there is a Great Finish – but it is not guaranteed for everyone. It comes by grace through faith.
In these passages we see a man named Isaac came from a godly father, Abraham, and his marriage to Rebekah was a beautiful example of faith and unselfishness in the Lord. Yet, somewhere in their marriage the parenting of their children went astray.
This message will explore some shaping principles for beautiful godly parenting.
*You may not be a parent but you are viewed as one… family/grandparent, figure in neighborhood, community partner… etc.
EXAMINE BEAUTIFUL PARENTING Genesis 25-28
Parenting through experience (Genesis 25:19-28).
Isaac & Rebekah have Esau & Jacob; twins who would be divided and fight. It would be the beginning of the end for the boys. They strive against each other and Esau becomes selfish, immoral and ungodly.
“When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (v.27-28).
Parents attempt to provide the best possible environment for children. They always present relationships and circumstances in a positive light, place them in protective arenas such as home school or private school, selected clubs and activities, all to offer the best possible childhood experience.
Yet, when faced with reality (real world experiences) they discover a rude awakening because the world does not cater to every heart desire and demand. Expectations are wrongly made and life becomes bitter.
Pastor Andy Stanley says that we are making our children experience rich but relationally poor. In other words, even the best possible environment for a child is not full proof for success. Experiences and positive environments are helpful but we cannot let them be the only means in parenting efforts.
µ MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” features teens receiving environmental pleasure but at what expense? See article
The show follows a simple but wildly successful formula: (1) kid makes a series of high-priced demands (a fireworks display, a helicopter ride, perhaps a harem of belly dancers); (2) parents capitulate and cough up the cash; (3) kid gleefully humiliates the uninvited; (4) something goes awry; (5) kid has a meltdown and repeatedly refers to self in the third person; (6) party miraculously comes together, and kid is presented with an automobile before his salivating, less fortunate peers. Says one parent who participated, “It’s the American way. You work hard and you play hard.”
– Value people over possessions & places.
Parents should spend more time cultivating authentic relationships to develop unconditional love, earn respect and trust with children than spending money to provide a wealth of experiences but never buying quality relationship.
Proverbs 19:4, 14 “Wealth brings many new friends but a poor man is deserted by his friend…House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Parenting through behavior. (Genesis 26:34-35; 27:1-46)
Isaac is now 100 years old (lives to 180). Like his father Abraham, he has not always made the wisest or godliest choices (lied to Abimelech, partiality of children). Esau & Isaac are grown men (40yr old). It seems Esau’s relationship with his parents was bitter (Gen 26:35; Heb 12:15-17). Yet, Esau continued to parent through behavior modification. He attempted to give bless Esau with the birthright rather than Isaac. Perhaps it was attempt to change Esau’s bitter heart or possibly seeking restoration. Nonetheless, it was wrong.
Hebrews 12:15-17 “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
God had chosen Jacob to be the promised seed and to receive the blessing (Gen 25:23 “the older shall serve the younger”). Furthermore, Isaac is trying to bless Esau in secret, hiding it from his wife Rebekah and Jacob. The birthright blessing is essentially a prophetic promise coming from the patriarch (father) and is honored by God. It was to be a open and respectable ceremony for the family yet Isaac is sinning privately and showing selfish preference.
The family circumstances get worse as Rebekah learns of Esau’s plan and devises a plan to deceive him and give the blessing to Jacob. Jacob is to bring two goats from the flock and Rebakah will prepare the food for Isaac to eat. This would be a fellowship meal before the blessing. Further, it would cause him to think Esau had hunted and prepared the food. Rebekah also instructed Jacob to wear Esau’s clothing and placed animal skins around him that he would smell and have the hairy touch of his brother to fool Isaac. Indeed, Rebekah and Jacob are not innocent victims but corresponding conspirators into sin and deception.
Rebekah and Jacob lie and their evil plan works to fool blind Isaac. When Isaac realizes he has been deceived he trembles very violently (27:33). In other words, he has an anxiety and panic attack. The consequences of his sin has turned his perspective and he is overwhelmed. Rightly so, when faced with such sin’s consequences it should lead you to repentance.
Note: Sin snowballs. It becomes a tangled web leading right to the spider of death. You will never escape the consequences of sin, they may delay but they always capture and detain.
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jacob receives the blessing and Esau cries with bitterness. He wants to murder his brother but Rebekah sends Jacob away to her family for protection.
Illus: Teaching oldest daughter how to repent. It’s more than sorry for being caught but sorrow for hurting God and others. Even more, sometimes she is the initiator of wrong – hitting sister, then when sister returns the hit she tattle tales. This is Esau: he is ungodly, marries 2 ungodly women, bitter towards parents and brother and when he is wronged he wants to cry for fairness and righteousness.
Note: Bitterness leads to more bitterness and more sin. Do not give it a foothold in your life. Esau’s crying but it is not tears of repentant sorrow but of selfishness.
Ephesians 4:26-27, 31 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you”
Primary goal of parenting is to teach your kids the Gospel and to train them to carry out the purposes of the Gospel. Martin Luther says: “All live on as though God gave us children for our pleasure or amusement, as though He gave us servants to use, like a cow or an ass, for work only, or as though we were to live with our subordinates only to gratify our whims ignoring them, as though what they learn or how they live were no concern of ours. No one wants to see that educating or training is the command of the Supreme Majesty, who will strictly call us to account and punish us for its neglect, or that the need to be seriously concerned about young people is so great. For if we want to have good and capable persons for both temporal and spiritual leadership, we must certainly spare no diligence, effort, or cost in teaching and educating our children that they may be able to serve God and the world. We must think not only how we may amass money and possessions for them; for God can surely support them and make them rich without us, as He is doing every day. But He has given and entrusted children to us that we should train and govern them according to His will.” (Luther, What Luther Says, 140)
Beautiful Parenting is giving grace and training truth.
Ultimately, we look to God the Father. He is a perfect Father yet 1/3 of angels were fallen and the first two humans he created, rebelled. God’s response is to give grace and train in truth – Truth is Jesus and He’s coming back!
Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
 Parental Guidance Required, DVD.
 Luther, What Luther Says, 140.