“Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of a harlot (Prostitute)” (Judges 11:1). Here was a great warrior, victorious in battle, and one who was able to subdue the enemy – but he was illegitimate, the son of a ‘strange woman’ (Judges 11:2). Because of this he was cast out by his half-brothers for they said, “Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house”. So Jephthah fled and dwelled in the land of Tob.
One of the great lessons in the Word of God is the fact that ‘there is no bad blood’. There is no respect of persons with Jehovah and He will use anyone, who in full trust, will follow him.
“And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob” (Judges 11:5). Now that Israel is at war and in trouble, they turn to the one that was cast out of his own house. They want Jephthah to be the General, in charge of the armed forces.
Jephthah tries to reason with the enemy (Judges 11:11-28), but when all efforts failed and all reasonable efforts were denied, the power came. “Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (verse 29) and the battle was joined. “Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel” (verse 33).
Now I have said all of that to say this, that there is yet another way in which we may ‘bastardize’ our children. Read it for yourself. “But if ye be without chastisement (discipline, correction) whereof we are all partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons” (Hewbrews 12:8). Read the context and you’ll see that the writer is speaking of our relationship with God (Hebrews 12:4-11). “My son, despise not thou the chastening (discipline, correction) of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he disciplines (chastens, corrects) and scourgeth (disciplines) every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6).
A failure to correct your children when they do wrong is a rejection of them as your children. To love them as God loves us, you will consistently correct or discipline them each time they stand in need of it. This is just a matter of “giving them your mind in teaching, and re-minding them when they ignore or hold your word in contempt.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of your mother, for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:7-9). Hear what the wise man is saying. But what if fathers give no instructions and what if mothers have no laws? What happens to our children when they are without laws and boundaries? Where do they go to learn about life? Is it the responsibility of the school to teach morals. Does reading, writing and arithmetic include the foundation of character? Perhaps the government can take the place of fathers and mothers in our homes.
When you give them instructions (rules, laws, regulations), you are giving them your mind. How can they mind you if they don’t have your mind? How can they follow instructions that are not given, laws that are not stamped into character? Time plus teaching equals mind. But what if there is no teaching, no instructions, no boundaries? Mind plus time equals convictions. The root word for ‘conviction’ means “to bind”. When one is charged and found guilty of our laws, he is “bound over”, sentenced, and becomes a convict – bound. No teaching, no mind; no mind, no convictions (bindings): Convictions, when practiced over time become character. Character is little more than conviction dipped into life consistently. Character always, without exception, gives direction and destiny. It’s how we get where we’re going.
There’s no bad blood! Not knowing who your mother or father is does not damn you in life. To the contrary, God can use a Jephthah any day for any good work.
Giving instructions and laws to your children has the following benefits. First, they provide – they offer privilege, comfort and assurance. Law allows one to be lawful or filled with law. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For rulers (law givers) are not a terror to good works, but to the evil . . . do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Romans 12:3). Law not only provides, it prohibits. “You can play in the back yard, don’t go in the front”. The red light is not a stop but a ‘go’. Let the red light go out and everybody stops. Laws and instructions help us go through life.
Laws and instructions protect. They give us a good conscience, a ready confession, a wonderful feeling of just being right. Laws condemn the lawbreaker, but maintain the law liver.
In the fourth place, law offers a great promise. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee and that thou mayeth live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-2). The reward for obeying you as parents, makes your kids RIGHT! Nothing else makes them right. Giving them a bicycle doesn’t make them right. Money offered doesn’t make them right. A swimming pool in the yard doesn’t make them right. Doing right makes them right. Notice the promise, “that it may be well with thee that thou mayeth live long on the earth. Law provides, prohibits, protects and promises.
When your children obey you, they honour you. When they disobey (even in the smallest offenses) they dishonour you. So what do you do when your children sass you, lie to you, disobey you and in general ‘disown you’? Here’s a suggestion. Call them in for conference. Tell them (read the list) what they have been doing. Tell them that this behavior is out of bounds and unacceptable. Tell them that you have watched and witnessed these transgressions. Now confess to them that if it is wrong for them to act this way, it was wrong for us as parent, to allow it. Ask their forgiveness. Now forgive them and say, “All is forgiven and this is the way we are going to live from now on”.
This is the only way to ‘take your own home back’ and again gain the respect that every parent is to. Don’t tell me it’s hard because it is, but it pays great dividends to those fearless parents who are willing to invest the time, patience, and love required. The writer concludes his discussion with these words, “Now no chastening (discipline, corrections) for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11)
“Afterwards” is coming. Now is the time to prepare for it.