When parents learn they are expecting children they are often filled with unimaginable joy. Their imaginations run wild. Will she have my eyes? Might he have daddy’s broad shoulders? We don’t know. At the earliest stages, we can only imagine. What about personality? Will she have Grandma Robbie’s boldness or Aunt Tabitha’s compassionate heart? Before long we are watching our children develop before our very eyes. Some of their growth and development is innate. It comes hardwired in their DNA.
There is also an aspect of our children’s growth and development which is not innate. Rather it is a matter of training and influence. Who our children are and who they will become is largely determined by the person who enjoys the maximum amount of influence in their life. Luke 6:37-42 houses one of the most misunderstood teachings of Christ. Jesus instructs His disciples on how to judge sin in the life of fellow believers. He prescribes the manner in which we are to weigh our own hearts, taking note of sin in our own life before we point out sin in the life of others.
Jesus puts a weight on the shoulders of the one who would correct or teach. And he attaches this admonition to a reason that cannot be overlooked. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” The warning is that we would-be teachers wouldn’t reproduce hypocrites. Or possibly worse, that we wouldn’t reproduce people who model the very sin we’ve allowed to go unchecked in our own life. What a sobering warning.
What happens when we apply this truth to our children? The question of greatest importance must then be, who has the lion’s share of time and influence in our children’s precious lives? This is a question we cannot afford to ignore as the answer could very well have eternal implications.
There are many “teachers” clamoring for our children’s attention and adoration. From entertainment to social media influencers everyone these days seems to want their shot at training our children. Why? Maybe they know something that we Christians dismiss. Maybe they know the value of soft clay. Unlike us, they actually believe this claim of Christ and they will cede no ground to parents. How frightening to consider!
We live in a depraved culture. It is indeed a culture violently hostile to truth and the authority of God. Yet it is one not content to only self-destruct. No, our culture craves disciples. It seeks converts. “Agree with us,” our culture calls out. “Be our allies!” This demand is made not only of us, but it is also made of our children. Defenseless as they are, they are influenced away from our protective authority. They are being actively trained to reject the faith we seek to pass down.
What must we do?
- Steep ourselves in the truth of God’s enduring Word so that we are able to rightly instruct our children. Let us first be trained in and convinced of the reliability of what God has said. When we as parents are thoroughly trained in the proper use of Scripture we will grow in discernment. This growth will enable us as leaders to resist the pull of decadence and train our children to do the same. Hebrews 5:14 teaches us that feasting on God’s Word will sharpen our powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil.
- Determine that we will live the truth of God’s Word. When we agree with Jesus, we will ensure that we have the lion’s share of time and by natural outcome the influence in the life of our little image-bearers. We cannot afford to underestimate the value of time and great intention in the lives of our children. God intends no gaps in our living and instructing our children, the two must be seamless components of our parenting. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 helps us understand what this might look like. Through Moses the LORD, God reminds His people who He is, how they are to love Him and how they are to teach Him to their children, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when your rise.” Living and instructing fit like hand in glove.
- Center the Gospel. Every single cultural conversation front and center today has Gospel implications. In other words, what our children say and believe on today’s hot topics is a direct reflection of what they believe about the Gospel. We must make sure our kids speak boldly and truthfully. Train them vigorously in the truth. Look for opportunities to equip them. More than correcting behavior or punishing bad conduct, we must proactively train and instruct. Ask questions, listen, and provide answers. If our kids only see our shaking our head at the culture or hissing about what we don’t like, they may grow to believe matters of sin are just matters of our preference. May it never be. We must teach our kids the Gospel importance of the issues we face in culture.
Our job isn’t easy these days. We are way outside the city limits of Mayberry and we are not heading back any time soon. However, the Gospel is built for Mayberry and Babylon. Let’s tell our children this great news. And train them to get it to others!