Any apprenticeship requires discipline. If you want to learn music or sports, or a trade, or anything else, you have to have discipline, and without it you will never succeed. He who entered into the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ became His disciple and must have spiritual discipline. Both the Savior and the apostles continually exhorted the disciples to spiritual discipline, and the first disciples of the Lord had it in full. Thus, it is written about the first Christians in Jerusalem:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all the believers were together and had all things in common; and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47 NASB)
Have you seen their spiritual discipline? They persevered, that is, persevered in the teaching of the apostles, in the help they offered one another, for this is what fellowship means, in breaking bread, that is, they continually searched for the teaching of the Savior, and they also persevered in prayer. Another thing that shows their spiritual discipline is the fact that they were present in the Temple every day. Do not think that they were lazy and did not have their work, or families that they had to support materially. But they had spiritual discipline, because they put into practice the words of the Lord Jesus who said:
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. (Matthew 6:33 NASB)
There are disciples of Jesus Christ who have kept the spiritual discipline of the first disciples today, but more and more are leaving this discipline, and for them Christianity has become a kind of hobby and the church a social club. I have heard them boast that they are “free in Christ” and that they “do not want to be religious” and that is why they have left spiritual discipline. They make Christian freedom a garment of spiritual laziness and an excuse to live a worldly life after becoming friends with the world. They are “diligent” when it comes to material gain, and in order to earn more money, they are willing to work two or even three jobs and stay away from their family for many years, but when it comes to being true disciples of the Savior and to submit to the discipline He requires, then they no longer want to make even a small fraction of the efforts they put into their love for the world now.
Worldly Christians who live like this, what example do you give your children? Now we are at a Taekwon-do camp in Bulgaria and we are learning Paul’s second Epistle to Timothy. I drew the attention of the disciples who came that Timothy had a father whom we only know was Greek, and this meant a heathen, for because of his father he could not be circumcised all his life, even though his mother and grandmother, who were Jewish, would have liked for him to be circumcised. However, Timothy did not follow the example of his father, but of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, who showed him an unadulterated faith and who taught him the Holy Scriptures from infancy. I suppose that these women had certain pressures, being under the authority of a pagan man, but they knew how to keep their spiritual discipline and develop it in their child, and they succeeded because they showed in themselves a worthy example to follow.
What example of Jesus’ disciples do you give your children now? The fact that you have three jobs and you always tell them that “you do it for them,” but you do not take the time to study the Bible daily with them, do not pray with them, and they do not see you serving in the church with your spiritual gifts, do you think it will not affect your children? They may find another model of a disciple of Christ in the church they want to follow, but beware that the probability is small. Are you surprised that many children of believers leave the faith and the church? Or worse, some stay in church, but live in a filthy hypocrisy that terrifies you when you hear what they’re doing. What is the probability that your child will follow the way of Christ if he has not been taught spiritual discipline and has not seen it in you, his parents?
Do you think that your child does not see when you have the slightest obstacle, an insignificant pain, or that you are with a small child, or I don’t know what else, and you excuse yourself that you cannot attend church because of this? Doesn’t he understand that with the same “problem” you would go to work, go to classes, go to the gym, go to a party, go to anything, but to the church service you prefer not to go, but to stay home? Your children see and remember and will imitate everything, but they will do it on a larger scale.
When I was training Sunday school teachers in Myanmar, a mother came with three children, the youngest of whom I think was 3 years old. I was deeply amazed to see how those children sat quietly for three days and did not make the slightest noise, played in another room in silence and let their mother study. She was very excited about what she was learning and made plans to teach the book “Wrong way, Jonah!” an inductive Bible study course for children, at her Sunday school with other unbelieving children. When it was time for the children to sleep, she quietly went to the back of the room, climbed on a table, and while a child slept for 2-3 hours, she held him in her arms and studied the Scriptures. Do you think that her other children do not see this sincere faith, love for the Word of God, and spiritual discipline of their mother? They see her, they see her well and they will imitate her. Happy are the children of this mother, for she gives them the greatest wealth that few parents give in this world.
I sit and think, what will be the spiritual life of the children of those parents who come to church one Sunday and one, two or three not? By the way, some of them do homeschooling, try to take their children to music and sports, and to other things for them to learn. But they don’t bring them to church, because they don’t come either. What will be chosen from your children’s lives for eternity? Do you not fear that you are to blame for the eternal fate and eternal reward of your children? Eternity is the first reason God has entrusted them to you to raise and lead them on the path of salvation and to give them a worthy example to follow in all things.
If there is a competition, a dance contest, a music contest, etc., then you make every effort to get your children there. What about Bible study, prayer, church services, missions? Aren’t you afraid that your little girls with all the dance lessons you insist on giving them will end up dancing at casinos, while you cry bitter tears of despair in the church pews asking for their salvation? And what will you tell them then? That you did everything for their own good? For their own good? And how will you turn things back then? What else can you do?
Careless and worldly parents, repent today of these great sins you commit toward the souls of your children and hasten to redeem time and save what can be saved by making every effort to teach the discipline of Christ’s disciples, and show it to yourselves, for we are living in the last days, and the dangers are very great. Satan wanders around like a lion and seeks out which of your children to swallow. Be awake, watch and do everything to save your children and teach them how to live a victorious life and enter the Kingdom of God, and you will not be a failure as parents, but will enjoy an eternity with them after they will receive the crown of glory with you.
Mothers and fathers, begin today to teach your children spiritual discipline and to show them an example in you.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc