I've been reading about the historical kings of Israel and Judah. Man, some of them were pretty awful! They basically ignored the God who had made them a nation, and allowed - even encouraged - the people to worship other gods and forget the teachings of the Lord who had redeemed them from slavery and led them to the Promised Land. In 2 Kings we read about a series of them, and many times the length of the king's reign is given, along with this summary of his rule: "And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord."
But every now and then, we encounter a good king, like Joash. (Read 2 Kings 11 & 12.) His father was Ahaziah, who "did evil in the eyes of the Lord." And his grandmother, Athaliah, was a stinker of a woman. When King Ahaziah was killed, Mama Athaliah slaughtered the entire family - HER family! Basically she was trying to wipe out anyone who had a claim to the throne. She just about succeeded, except Joash's sister got wind of the slaughter, and she hid little one-year-old Joash in a back bedroom. Then she secreted him away, out of Mean Mama Athaliah's reach. The Bible says Joash, "remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land."
Little Joash was raised in the temple. And he had a mentor there - a priest named Jehoida. Now, what kind of upbringing do you think he had? Yes, he was in hiding, but he was in the temple of God! Being raised by a priest! I'll bet his little life was saturated with prayer and Scripture and serving the Lord.
After six years, Jehoida the priest worked out a secret deal with the commanders of the army, and he brought them to the temple and revealed Joash as the true King. The army (who were apparently sick and tired of Mean Mama Athaliah's rule) threw their support behind Joash and crowned him king. Athaliah's reign, and her life, came to a very public and very abrupt ending.
Then Jehoida led the new King Joash to make a covenant between the Lord and the people and him, that they would be the Lord's people once again. Joash was seven years old when he was crowned king, and he reigned for forty years, and he surrounded himself with godly mentors. The Bible says, "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him."
So, what do you suppose made the difference in Joash's life? I'll tell you what I think. He was raised in the church! He was surrounded by Godly instruction, by people who loved him and loved the Lord. He learned the ways of the Lord every day of his young life. And then he continued to surround himself with people who loved the Lord into his adulthood.
Moms and Dads, do you want your kids to do what is right? Give them a good start in life! Raise them in an environment where people love the Lord and learn His ways and strive to serve Him!