An individual will never develop appropriate internal, self-government, unless they first submit to the primary and ultimate Moral Governor of the universe, the Creator; the eternal, personal, triune God who has given reliable revelation of Himself in the Bible. Rejection of this most fundamental reality leaves a person building on the sinking sands of self-supremacy, preparing for nothing but collapse.
As we humble ourselves before God and begin building upon the Rock, we are taught to govern our lives properly. A very important Biblical principle that applies to this process is, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Lk.16:10). At times, people assume something is “not a big deal,” and therefore, dismiss it as something of which they should give attention. This mind-set is guaranteed to stunt their growth, if not prevent it completely. There is no reason to assume a person will be able to govern big things if they do not learn to govern the little things. The prophet Jeremiah stated it this way, “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jer.12:5).
It is crucial that young men and women learn this very important lesson of life; learning to govern our minds, emotions and will, under God, as individuals, prepares us to enter the deeper waters of marriage, family, church, business and civil service. God has a purpose for each social institution. Each play an important role in the overall agenda of God for the nations. Family is the first corporate sphere in which we are to learn very important governmental principles and practice.
Consider this simple evaluation:
If we have a man and a woman, neither of which practice appropriate self-government, what kind of marriage can we expect from them? Will they produce good fruit or bad fruit, not only in reference to their personal experience but in regard to God’s plans and purposes for the nation?
Consider a marriage consisting of one spouse practicing appropriate self-government under God while the other does not. What fruit can we expect from this union? This is characteristic of being “unequally yoked.”
On the other hand, a self-governed, responsible man who has a vision for life and righteousness and a self-governed, responsible woman who has a vision for life and righteousness will embrace their role as husband and wife in a proper, fruitful fashion. Such a relationship is not, however, to remain only between a husband and a wife. It is God’s design that husbands and wives become mothers and fathers.
If we revisit the three scenarios above, adding children to them, what fruit can we expect? A child raised by two selfish “adults” will not receive the training needed to become a responsible human being. A child raised by parents who a pulling in opposing directions, who are not harmonious in their vision for life and marriage relationship will be exposed to turmoil that detracts from their training experience. Only parents who have a vision for the role of mother and father, accompanied with appropriate self-government can hope to produce good fruit in the area of training young people to be healthy, fruitful members of society.
The child / parent relationship begins with total external government over the child who is utterly dependent on the two individuals who brought them into life. Parents must have an agenda for decreasing the need for external government while increasing the internal government the child practices. If such a process does not take place, we need not expect that such children will be equipped to advance God’s kingdom or make a healthy contribution to society. It is likely that their existence will be a deficit to the nation, morally, spiritually, politically and financially. Consequently, returning to the principle referenced earlier, they must be taught to be faithful with little while, in strategic increments, increasing that with which they are to be faithful.
I must add the admonition that it is necessary for children to gain a vision for pleasing God, assuming a cooperative approach toward developing responsibility and self-government. A parent can “train up a child in the way he should go,” only to be met with resistance and rejection. Such is the reality of moral agency. This does not remove the parent’s responsibility to do their best. Even as God questioned the people of Israel, “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done…?” unless young people gain a vision for life, they will perish, and the nation along with them. As in the proverb (not promise), with proper training, our hope is, “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Pr.22:6).