Text: Proverbs 22:1-6 Parents’ Day June 12, 2011
What is the most important for our children? If someone asks you this question, what will your answer be? Whatever answer you may give reflects on your perspective of life and level of spiritual growth and faith. Being Christian parents, what do we, or should we, focus on the most important thing for our children? The world has so much on values and goals and pursuits, but they don’t include what is the most important part in their agenda and that is the spiritual side of our children.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS MOST IMPORTANT:
1) It is the spiritual, not physical: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) Anyone can tell that without the breath of life, the spirit of God, that body of dirt won’t be a living being, much less of any worth or eternal value. While we need to grow their bodies and keep them healthy, the most important part of their life is the spirit God gives to them.
2) It is eternal, not temporary: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) People of the world pursue what is seen, but children of God should pursue what is unseen because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. Christian parents should help their children to pursue the unseen instead of the seen. This step is so important that our children’s spiritual focus will be determined at their young age.
3) Keep in step with the spirit: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) Paul advised the early Christians that since they received their new life by the Spirit, they needed to live their life keeping up with the Spirit. It is the duties of Christian parents to lead their children to a new life in the Spirit of God and to help them live their life keeping in step with the Spirit. God places children in our hands for an important purpose---help them learn and know God and live their life according to the spiritual principles of God.
4) There is none other doing this: “Sons are a heritage from God and children are a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:3) In the world today, homes and parents are the only place where children may be taught about God and spiritual matters. They can learn skills of trade, matters of the physical world, but God ordain parents to be the guardians and mentors on spiritual growth of children. If parents neglect this duty, they neglect their duties from God.
SOME OF THE DIVINE ASSIGNMENTS:
1) Go to the house of God: “I rejoice with those who said to me: Let’s go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) The first thing God wants parents to begin growing the spiritual life of their children is to bring them to the house of God to learn about Him. In almost all cases, children have their first impact of spiritual matters begins from their attending church worship or Bible class. The earthly parents of Jesus brought him to the temple where he learned the word of God. (Luke 2:41-52) Do not allow any worldly matters hinder them from the opportunity of spiritual growth.
2) Connect them with the Bible: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)The Bible is the sole authority of faith and life for Christians. We are to institute the desire of the Bible in the life of our children as they grow up and face many challenges and decisions. They need to learn and believe the authority of God’s word as the guiding light of their life. King Solomon says: “Teach a child the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn away from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) When children grow up with no authority of God’s word, they get lost and may turn to the wrong ways of life and it is very difficult to turn them around until they fall and suffer consequences like the Prodigal Son did. (Luke 15)
3) Lead them to salvation in Jesus: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) The fact that Timothy became a model of many young Christians through out the 2,000 years history began in the faith of his mother and grandmother. The fact that Timothy was led to salvation by his mother and grandmother shows us a strong message that we need to lead our children to salvation in Jesus Christ. Although salvation experience is personal, parental guidance and influence contribute to their decision is important.
4) Build their Christian character: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9) These are the words of Paul in encouraging Christians to learn from him on character building, being noble, think and do right, be pure and lovely, live admirable life that worth excellence and praise. (4:8)We are saved more than having a ticket to heaven. We are saved to be the light of the world and our character affects the outcome of our mission of being witnesses for the Lord. Parents need to help our kids building Christian character in their life.
BEWARE OF STUMBLING BLOCKS:
1) Insufficient attention: This is the number one stumbling block where most Christian parents fail on spiritual growth in their children: They can’t or don’t see the importance. Most, if not all, parents focus so much on education and health of their children and they need to do that. But we are talking about helping our kids in their souls that they can win over the spiritual warfare in this world when they grow up. If parents don’t invest time and energy in this area, their kids won’t achieve what God wants them to achieve in their spiritual life. If we miss the opportunities, they may never come back.
2) Inadequate resources: I am talking about those parents who see the needs and have the desire to do so, but they don’t have any where to go or anyone to turn to for help. Church needs to provide support network for these parents by providing personal counseling, workshop, study course and mentoring system so parents can go to and ask for help when they need that. We also need “model parents” in our churches who are willing to help others in this area. We also need to encourage parents to form support groups and regular gatherings to enhance learning.
3) Incorrect priorities: Most parents, including Christian parents do not have biblically correct priorities for their life and the life of their children. In fact, Most Christian parents have the same or similar priorities of life like non-Christians----they put spiritual matters at the bottom on their list for themselves and their children. Things like school, grades, extra-curricular activities, tests, ranking in class, etc. are placed above spiritual growth. No wonder many smart Christian kids live their life like all others in their circle of people. If you can’t place spiritual matters on top of all others, at least, it should be placed in the top group of things you see as important for your kids. Without spiritual discipline and character, what is the use of good grades and high SAT scores or going to ivy-league colleges?
4) Missing good examples: This is also a heart-breaking truth. Few kids in Christian families have decent Christian parents as their model or mentor from them they can learn spiritual quality and life style. Jesus emphasized the importance of having good trees to bear good fruits. (Matthew 7:16-18) No good fruits can grow from bad trees. No good Christian kids can grow in bad homes without spiritual examples or environment. It is so important we Christian parents provide our kids with good example in our life and words and priorities. From the kind of kids we raise, people can tell the kind of Christians we are.
1) Nothing more precious: With all the things in this world and the opportunities we may have to earn them, nothing may come close to the value of having kids in our family. Children are the heritage of God and they are the most precious gifts God can give us. Place them on top of your priority list in terms of your focus, value and resources. Try our best to treasure them, grow them, mode them and guide them to kids with spiritual quality and Christian character so they can continue to shine for God.
2) Nothing more important: I am talking about all the good things kids want and need to have, good school, good healthy, good neighborhood, good friends and many other good things in life. But none of these may come close to a good and strong spiritual foundation in their souls. If they may gain the whole world but lose their souls, what is the point of everything else? So, try harder, do more to be their good role models, bring them to God when they are young. Teach them the Word of God and lead them to Jesus for salvation. Help them build biblically sound principles and character traits so they will not turn from them when they grow older.
3) Don’t try do it yourself: No one is a perfect parent and no one can do it all for his/her children in spiritual growth. God is the source of all our needs. Seek His wisdom, patience and courage to do all you can. Seek help also from peers, people who have achieved more than you have. Don’t be shy to seek advice and learn from them. Together, we can mode, grow and lead our kids to a closer walk with God so they can have a stronger start for their kids in the future. Building a Christian heritage takes lots of commitment, but every bit is worthy investment.