Richard Baxter: Most serviceable to God

“Your charity and care must begin at home, but it must not end there. You are bound to do the best you can to educate your children, so they may be capable of being most serviceable to God, but not to leave them rich, nor to forbear other necessary works of charity, merely to make larger provision for them. There must be some proportion between the provision we make for our families and for the church of Christ. A truly charitable, self-denying heart, that hath devoted itself, and all that it hath, to God, would be the best judge of the due proportions, and would see which way of expense is likely to do God the greatest service, and that way it would take.”
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) in The Reformed Pastor, 5th edition, ed. William Brown (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1862) 167.
Baxter lived in a day when Christian parents with resources exhibited a sincere desire to attend of the needs of their children (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). That desire soon developed into an entitlement pattern: parents felt their children deserved “nothing but the best” of everything. Sound familiar? Many aimed to leave their children rich instead of being rich in charity, so Baxter shined light on this selfish and destructive trend (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
We invest money on resources and outings to impart these lessons. Why? We must train children in grasping the value of sacrifice and charity, so that their souls may be “most serviceable to God” rather than self-absorbed.

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