Adult Children (5/8/13)

Read: 1Samuel 2:22-4:22, John 5:24-47, Psalm 106:1-12, Proverbs 14:30-31

So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! (1 Samuel 2:29)

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Relate: For nearly all of my post college life I have been involved in youth or college ministry in some form or another. I’ve dealt with many rebellious high school and college students and their distraught parents. The accepted wisdom I’ve heard and passed on time and again is that, as a parent if they are living under your roof they must accept your rules. At some point they will step out on their own and become responsible for themselves. You can offer advice, love and support, and prayers for them but if they chose to walk away from God, if they chose to live in willful sin it is their choice. Today I just read something that sent a right hook to that view. I’m floored.

To be able to perform the duties of a priest, a man must be thirty years old. All of Eli’s sons were performing as priests which means they were all adults. But still God holds Eli responsible for their sins. He calls the father to task for his adult children’s rebellion. Think about it, the fifth of the ten commandments is to honor your father and mother. We’re often teaching these to kids but seriously, what six year old needs to be told not to murder or commit adultery? This is an adult list. When Jesus refers back to the list, he uses an adult example (corban). On the flip side, Deuteronomy says what to do with a rebellious child. You’re to take him to the elders at the gate and have him stoned. Before judgment is passed the parents are to say, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” They’re probably not talking about their eight year old. You say, “that sounds like a teenager to me.” Well, for most of history, teens were adults. Only in recent years has the transition into adulthood become so protracted that most twenty-somethings still act like children today.

React: So what does this mean to me? I don’t have any adult children. I don’t even have any kid kids. I am an adult son with a responsibility to honor my mother, and not just for this coming Sunday. I am also an oldest brother with orphaned siblings. My dad died before most of my siblings hit their teen years. In many ways the spiritual responsibility for them has fallen to me. (Tim Keller does a great job talking about the true older brother) How involved have I been in their life? How faithfully have I been praying for them? If they wander from God, will I be called to account? What about others that, like Paul did, I can call my Spiritual children?

Respond: 

God, help me not to just live for myself. You have placed others in my life for whom You have made me responsible. That responsibility does not have an expiration date. It doesn’t get less through time or distance. First and foremost, help me to be an intercessor for them. Help me to be an example. Where I have authority, help me to exercise it with discipline. Where I do not, help me to speak in love the truth. Help me to partner with You in seeing them become all You have called them to be and never let me rest this burden until we are all together with You in heaven. 

16 thoughts on “Adult Children (5/8/13)

  1. Sobering thought, and a reminder to me, that regardless of how old my children are, I must be keep bathing them in prayer, and be available when they seek counsel.

  2. sobering thought. a reminder that regardless of their age, I must be vigilant to pray for my adult kids, and be available to them when they seek counsel.

  3. I have four adult children. (I also have a stepson who was killed in a work accident in 2007.) Dealing with adult children has been more difficult for me than raising them to adulthood. I have learned to stand back and let them make their own mistakes, but I’m always ready to help if they ask. The hardest thing is to stand back and watch them make mistakes, but at some point you learn that prayer is much more effective than advice — unless they specifically ask for advice — and even then it can backfire. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t pray specifically that my children and their spouses will stay close to their Heavenly Father and raise my grandchildren to stand uprightly before the Lord.

  4. Wonderful post, timely topic. We also see this exemplified in the story of Job…

    “His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each on his day; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.” –Job 1:4-5 (RSV)

  5. Great food for thought. Never thought about it like that. Amazing how much responsibility we have as parents to raise, train and love our children into responsible, loving adults that will continue to follow the LORD.

  6. Responsibility never ends in this life, from the moment of baptism to the moment Christ calls us home!

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