Ok, so Christian parenting is hard. We know that. But have you ever asked yourself the question of what is on the line? What happens if I royally stuff this gig up? Or the much nicer positive; what good might God do if I get some things right? What is on the line for my kids?
A whole lot is on the line. And to show you, I’m gonna pull out a whole bunch of Bible verses that build a case. (And for those of you playing at home, the Bible has gotta rule everything we do. It grounds our lives and the way we approach parenting. It is critical that we understand the Bible on this topic. Then our job is to apply those principles and commands). So what are some things the Bible says about this?
Kids will live forver
Well firstly, your kids are gonna live forever. Somewhere.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2
This is big. Your kids are never ever going to cease to exist. That’s the kind of being that you brought into the world. One who will be around for the rest of ever. And it is worth saying, eternal life is way more sweet and satisfying than we could ever imagine; so much so that anyone who doesn’t want this for their kids must hate them! Everlasting contempt is also something we struggle to imagine – horrors beyond our wildest nightmares. And I wouldn’t ever want my kids to spend one second in that space. Let alone eternity! Wow, even as I write this tears are welling up in my eyes just thinking about the possibility of one of my boys suffering that fate. (Please God – no!).
We have a big responsibility
There is a lot on the line for our kids. But the responsibility for their eternal lives doesn’t sit solely with them. (Kids are still responsible. If you’re game, check out the devastating consequences dished out on these boys who belittled the mouthpiece of the Living God ~ 2 Kings 2:23-24). No. The responsibility for the souls of kids extends to their parents. In fact, speaking to parents, Solomon says:
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. Proverbs 19:18
You see, from the moment of conception (remember that?), because of their participation in the human race, our kids are sinful (Ps 51:5, Rom 5:19). This puts them in a precarious position from day dot. They are already on the wrong track. And if you as a parent don’t do something about it, they will very very likely end up in that place of nightmares we were talking about before! And what’s more, says Solomon, you will be an accomplice to their demise. Can you imagine the horror of seeing your child – that little person you love so much that you would chop off your arm for them if you had to – imagine seeing them in eternal chains, knowing that you willingly pushed them there? Wow. Does anyone else wanna hide right now?
Now, the beautiful news is that God is sovereign, and whether we muck up this parenting thing or do a half-decent job, he will do what he will. We can’t make our kids walk on the narrow path. Neither can we destine them for destruction with our callous complacency. But, God’s sovereignty doesn’t cancel out our responsibility. The impact that we have on our kids is real, and we are very much answerable for our parenting. We won’t be condemned for falling short of perfect parenting (trust in Jesus covers all sin!!), but out of love of our kids, how could we aim for less than their eternal satisfaction?
So here are a couple of passages from both the Old and New Testaments, to give us a sense of how we ought to approach Christian parenting (btw the first two are by far the most important!!):
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (The point here being that if our kids trust in Jesus they will be saved!!)
7 Impress (these commands) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates … 20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” 21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes the LORD sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” Deut 6:7-9, 20-25 (Remind me to tell you at some point why Eph 6 is more important for us than Deut 6)
1 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. Ps 78:1-4
The most important thing you can do for your kids is to point them to Jesus. Raise them to know that he is the Lord and Saviour of their universe and of their household. You don’t need to know every parenting technique (as helpful as they can be). You don’t need to be better at timeout than Super Nanny (whatever happened to her anyway)? You just need to know the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel, and lead your children to him. And pray that God would use those efforts to grow a faith in your kids, one that will have them with you – and more importantly – with Christ forever!