Have you ever gone through the process of building a new house? It is one of those exciting times when you anticipate how well you will like this house since you are deciding for yourself what fixtures, appliances and wall colors or coverings the house will have. Most everything in it will be of your choosing. It won’t be long after getting into the new house until you begin to see things you wish you had done differently.
When Solomon write Psalms 127 and said, “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain they rise early and stay up late toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves”, he wasn’t talking about the house made of wood and brick. He was referring to the family unit. It is the spiritual house that you live in all the time.
We don’t know at what point in Solomon’s life he wrote these words. I wonder if it was at the time he had built many houses for wives who worshiped idols and now looks back on his actions to realize how wasted all the time and money was since they would use the houses to promote ungodly living.
It could have been during the time he was building the temple for God to dwell in. Maybe he realized along the way that God was too big to be confined even to the massive temple he was building.
At whatever point he wrote these words, it was with the realization that even though he was the wisest man alive and the wealthiest he still couldn’t build a place that was right for God unless God was involved in the building. Today we can’t build our homes without God’s work in it with every aspect of the house being under his design. I’m not talking about the brick and mortar kind of house. I’m talking about family. The church is family at it’s best. God is our father. Jesus is our older brother. All the rest of us are brothers and sisters in the family.
What does God do in building our house or family? He is always there for us to call upon. He wants to be part of our family dynamic all the time. He longs our companionship and fellowship all along. He gives us the right design for family living and for bringing up children for him. He tells of the heart we need and the things that should matter most to us in the family. He even sends His Spirit to guide us in all the building.
Most significant is the fact that God is the one behind our children coming into this world. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”
Do you think it would affect how we bring up children if we saw them as a heritage from God? Think about what it would be like to see God as picking you to be the parent of a particular child because he knew you could handle the challenges that the child would bring into your family. When a person has a child that has left God behind and is living in the world partaking of every wrong that one could think of and they meet a parent wrestling with an autistic child or one with muscular Dystrophy and you find yourself thinking “I’d rather have their problem than the one I’m dealing with even though my child looks healthy. God knows our weaknesses and our strengths. He knows what a child needs from their mother and dad. He chooses carefully the right home for the child. I believe he is even involved in many of the adoptions that take place so that a child’s needs are often met best by that adoptive parent instead of their physical parent.
If children are a heritage from God, we are just stewards of God taking care of his precious children. Just as we have a stewardship of our things in this world, of our talents or abilities and of the opportunities that come our way, we are responsible to God for his children that are placed within our care.
Since our children are gifts or loans from God and we are given responsibility to bring them up in his training and discipline, how will we be judged for this heritage given to us? Suppose you were given the management of a farm for an owner. You worked, you plowed, fertilized, irrigated, and worked the crops in the best way you knew how and in the very way that the extension service advised you. But this year the crops produced almost nothing. You don’t know what went wrong. You have worked in this capacity before and didn’t have a problem like that. How will the owner judge your management of the farm? If the problem had nothing to do with your efforts but was the fault of the weather, storms or insects you couldn’t have prepared for most likely the owner will commend you for the hard work and begin planning for the next year. God is a God of fairness and grace. He will judge the parent who takes care of their precious heritage from the Lord in the same way.
Think of it another way for a moment. Suppose a couple are expecting a child and God blesses them with one of his babies. They don’t spend time with the child. They don’t even take care for it’s basic needs very well and the child cries a whole lot. As the years pass the child is seen as a burden to them and they shift it off to someone else to watch as often as possible. What if this child grows up to be a devoted servant of God, on fire for his cause and becomes a wonderful parent to their children? Will God bless the parent and judge them as worthy and good because the child turned out to be a great person? No, he doesn’t judge based on outcome but on what is put into the effort along the way.
It would be no more right for God to judge a poor parent as good and just when their children become great people, than it would be to judge a parent as a failure when they were great parents who poured heart and soul into bringing up their children for God and they went the other way to live for the world.
At this very juncture one can see the fallacy of the outcome based judgment of teachers in classrooms today. A teacher might have a room full of kids that are brilliant and learn on their own, without any input from the teacher. They take the test at the end of the semester and score extremely high on it. To turn around and brag on and give a raise to the teacher for such work is crazy when he had nothing to do with their success. Neither does it make sense if one has a classroom filled with students that aren’t interested, won’t study and have no interest in trying, to judge the teacher as ineffective when they try their very best to motivate and encourage the children to learn and it doesn’t work. Judgment must be based on input rather than just outcome.