Young parents often share with me their concern and worry about raising a child in today’s world. I remember experiencing many of the same feelings as we were trying to raise our daughters. The world is becoming so evil that one wonders how a Christian child will make it through. But Tammy and I determined that rather than allowing our family to be destroyed by this godless culture, we would everything we could to raise children who could and would walk with God. Along the way I often told our daughters that God has always had a remnant of people who loved Him and that we had to make sure that our family would always a part of that special remnant. Tammy and I would pass the faith down to them and they would pass it down to their children and their children to their children, and so we would continue on until the Lord comes.
Please take your Bible and turn to Deuteronomy 6.
I. The Goals of Parenting
Almost everything begins with a vision or predetermined goals. Every artist can see the painting in his mind before he puts it on canvas. A wise builder builds according to the blueprint. A teacher teaches according to the curriculum. Runners run with the vision of crossing the finish line. Therefore some of the questions parents need to ask themselves are – “What are my goals for my children? What is my vision for them? What do I hope to accomplish in their lives?”
A. Worldly Goals
Many parents want their children to be happy, safe, comfortable, good citizens, well-educated, religious, and fulfilling their God-given potential. These goals aren’t evil, yet they should not be our primary objectives as parents. A person can obtain all of this and still miss God’s purpose for their life. A person can be religious and still not go to heaven.
B. God’s Goals
What are God’s goals for our children? They are the same goals that He has for us.
Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
God’s goal for each of us is that we would love Him with the very deepest part of our inner being and that this love would be so passionate that it affect the way we live. That’s what it means to love God with all our heart, soul and strength.
C. Why Should We Choose God’s Goals Over Our Own?
Most Christians would nod their head in approval with what I have just said, yet often we don’t do it. What we believe and what we practice are sometimes very different. Most of us won’t embrace God’s goals for our lives until we believe that they are better than our own.
There are many reasons why we should choose God’s goals over our own, but today I would like to focus on just one. We should do it because our children’s happiness is at stake. We sometimes hear people say that what God wants our children to be holy, not happy. I agree and disagree with that statement.
I agree that God wants us to choose Him over the world. We read from scripture-
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The ‘world’ spoken of here does not mean the planet earth. God is not anti-ecology. As a matter fact, God told the first man that part of his duty was to take care of creation. God was green before there was green.
The ‘world’ is not a reference to plants and animals. It is a reference to a philosophy of life that is self-centered and that often acts sinfully in order to satisfy its sinful desires. It is a philosophy of life that often is in direct opposition to who God is and what He wants for His creation. Over and over again in scripture we read – “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) God is not saying – “Be ye a monk locked up in a monastery.” To be holy means to be separated from sin and dedicated unto God. God is saying – “Turn away from what is ungodly and turn to what is godly.” “Embrace holiness.”
I agree that when it comes to the choice between God’s holiness and our sinful happiness, God wants us to choose Him over the world. What I don’t agree with is that God’s way of holiness can’t bring us happiness. Personally I believe that the happiest people in the world are those who choose to live by God’s holiness. The Bible says – “Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” (Ps 144:15) Consider this passage of scripture.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Do you know what the word ‘blessed’ means? Happy! Prosperous! This passage might be translated as – “The truly happy person is the one who loves the Lord.”
Jesus said-Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
Happy is the person who is hungry for God and His way of righteousness. That person shall find true satisfaction.
That doesn’t mean that the godly will live a carefree life. Let me remind you that the godless don’t either. What this does mean is that the Lord gives to His children a joy and happiness that the world will never know. I’ve worked with a lot of families over the years and I have never met one single family that chose to live for God and later regretted it. Show me a family where the father loves his wife like Christ loves the church, where the wife lovingly supports her husband and treats him with dignity and respect, where the mom and dad faithfully teach their children about God, and where the children grow up to truly know God and to embrace Him as their Lord, and I will show you a happy family.
In contrast, sin never satisfies. It always leaves us searching for more. I’ve seen many homes destroyed by sin. With sin we have to have something bigger and better and faster to get a new high. Consider what God’s Word says-
Psalm 37:16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
Proverbs 16:19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
A person never will be more satisfied than when they are walking close to God. Therefore the greatest thing a parent can do is to help their child learn how to walk with God. There is nothing greater that a parent could achieve than to raise a son or daughter who truly loved God.
Yet if you know anything about parenting, you know that this isn’t always easy. Raising children who know and love God doesn’t come natural or on its own. We can’t assume that a little bit of exposure to church will do it. It takes great intentional effort upon the parents to raise children who love the Lord. Over the next few weeks I am going to go over three simple things that will help us do this.
II. God’s Pattern for Parents
First let me say this – there are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children. You’re not going to have a perfect family. Perfection will not be accomplished until we’re all in heaven.
Recently I read two things that might encourage some of you:
- God is more concerned with the direction of parenting than He is the perfection of parenting.
- Never place a period where God has a comma.
Some of you are going through a difficult time as a parent. Let me encourage you to not give up. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop seeking the spiritual well-being of your children. Don’t stop living the Christian life before them. You’re not perfect and you’re not going to be perfect. What you have to concentrate on is being persistent in your pursuit of godliness. You have to have a clear vision of what it is that you need to accomplish and you have to dedicate yourself to that purpose. That’s the key to reaching success in any area of life; especially parenting.
The first area of persistency is in your teaching your children God’s Word.
A. Diligent Teaching
Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…
1. ‘Teach Them Diligently’
Diligent teaching refers to a process that is on-going and repetitive. So often I have parents tell me – “I’ve already told them. I don’t understand why they’re not doing it.” I’ll tell you why – they’re kids and they’re still growing. We as adults sometimes forget that our kids are kids. We also sometimes forget that we were once kids as well. For some children it may take time for them to completely internalize biblical principles, but eventually many will, if we remain faithful in our teaching. Many of us in this room are living testimonies to this. Many of us had some struggles along the way, but eventually we came around.
Parents need to know what it is that their child needs to learn and then the parent must be diligent in teaching it to them. At first this may seem like an endless or hopeless task. But if you are persistent and consistent in teaching your child biblical truths, your child will begin to learn.
2. ‘Talk to Them Daily’
Diligent teaching is more than an evening lecture. It is an open dialogue between you and your child.
Deuteronomy 6 … and shalt talk of them (commandments – God’s will as revealed in His Word) when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down , and when thou risest up.
This is not the regular Hebrew word for ‘lecturing.’ It is the word used for ordinary conversation. I’ve read a lot of books on parenting and in almost every one of them there is at least one chapter on the importance of a good relationship between the parent and child. We cannot be an effective parent without a good relationship with our child.
Deuteronomy 6 … and shalt talk of them (God’s Word, the commandments) when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down , and when thou risest up.
Too many parents wait until there is a problem and then they try to lecture their child about what is right and wrong. There may come a time for lecturing and discipline, but the best time to teach is not in a moment of turmoil or conflict. Often the spirit is closed at this moment and not very receptive to hearing truth. It is in the normal routine of life that we can be most effective in teaching our children about God. This means that we as parents are going to have to be involved in the lives of our children. A really good scenario is a parent lovingly explaining biblical truth to their child and in reply their child asking them questions. Recently I read that a wise parent is someone who is able to put their child in the middle of a Bible story and to help their child see how the biblical principles apply to them.
B. Why Should We Do This?
One of the primary questions I ask myself whenever I study God’s Word is ‘Why? Why should I do this?’ Perhaps some of you are thinking the same thing as well. You might be thinking – ‘But why is teaching our children the Bible so important? Isn’t the Bible old and outdated and boring? I’ve tried to have family devotions and they roll their eyes and look at me like I’m crazy.” The truth is, some families do react this way at first and that’s why a lot of men won’t even try to be a spiritual leader. The fear of being rejected to too great to take the risk. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to just do nothing and hope for the best.
Let me give you two reasons why you must diligently teach your child God’s Word:
1 – Just hoping won’t raise a godly child
2- The reward is worth the risk
Deuteronomy 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
God’s wisdom comes from His Word. To raise a truly wise child, we must teach them biblical truths and principles.
So where do we begin? How do we get started in teaching our children biblical truth?
1- We must realize that it begins with us.
Moses said to the parents of his day – “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart…” (Deuteronomy 6:6) A child begins to develop their value system as soon as they can begin to understand language. Therefore it is crucial that during these very impressionable years a child sees in the heart of their parents a desire to walk with God. This is not a guarantee that the child will always be compliant, yet it will make an impact upon them that will last a lifetime. Even if the child wanders away, they will often come back because of what was sown in their life during their early years.
2- Develop a simple plan for discussing God’s Word with your family.
If your children are very small, a good place to start is with a simple Bible story book. Read them stories and talk to them.You say, “I don’t know enough.” Brethren – we’re teaching children! You know more than enough. It doesn’t have to be some deep theological study. It has to be simple and practical.
If your children are older, you will need to find something a little more mature and suitable. I have on order a daily devotional for families called ‘Keys for Kids’ and I hope to start having them available for our families. We used this with our girls and it’s a good, sound daily devotional for children. You might even learn something as an adult.
As children get into their teen years, they should begin to learn how to have a daily devotional on their own. But that doesn’t stop meaning that you stop interacting them. You should still pray together and discuss biblical truths. You as their parent needs to know what your son or daughter is using for a devotional. It is also good to share with them what you are learning in your Quiet Time.
Even now that our children are grown and gone, Tammy and I still look for opportunities to make spiritual deposits in their lives. I plan on doing the same my grandchildren as well. I plan on reading them Bible stories and talking with them about the Lord.
Regardless of what stage in life you are in as a parent, always keep this in mind – look for opportunities to apply biblical truth to everyday living. It may be an event in your child’s life, or even in your own. Regardless, seize the moment. Weave God into the fabric of everyday living. Share God’s perspective on the situation. It is from this kind of interaction that God’s wisdom will begin to transfer from the pages of scripture into your child’s heart.