Our children are precious gifts from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalm 127:3) They also are one of our greatest responsibilities. We are to “bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) We are to train them in the “way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) What is that “way?” What should be our goals for raising our children?
Most would answer, “I want them to be happy and prosperous in life.” With that goal in mind, many parents consider themselves “successful” if their children get a good education, a good job, and marry a good spouse. If they have a nice house, successful marriage, good bank account, and a promising future, what more can you ask? But our children can have all of these things and still we have missed the most important goal. Focusing their attention on happiness and prosperity can lead to selfish, materialistic adults. Consider this. What if they grow up happy and prosperous, but without God? “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) What if they are happy and prosperous here, but spend eternity in hell? Surely, that is not what we want.
Some would respond more nobly, “I want to raise my children to be productive members of society. I want them to be honest, hard-working members of the community.” Nobody would deny that such is an admirable goal. We certainly do not want our children to grow up as dishonest free-loaders who are a burden on society. We do not want them to be alcoholics, drug-addicts, or criminals who cost the nation more than they produce. We want them to make our world a better place to live. However, have we been successful as parents by simply teaching them to earn their own living and stay out of prison?
Is it enough to raise children who are hard-working, productive, self-sufficient, and honest? These are worthy goals, but they can be accomplished without Jesus Christ.
The Christian has the highest of goals in parenting. “I want to raise them to please God and go to heaven.” We want to teach our children “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1) We want to help them reach “for the city, which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) This is what it means to bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. We must impart true spiritual values to them, or we have failed to meet the one goal that will matter in eternity.
Interestingly, if we teach them proper spiritual values, they will also be hard-working, honest, productive members of society. They will also be happy and prosperous—perhaps not in money, in ways worth more than money.
What is your primary goal for raising your children? Are you teaching them to put the kingdom of God first? (Matthew 6:33) Are you teaching them to set their “minds on things above, not on things on the earth?” (Colossians 3:2) We must teach them what is truly important by stressing things like church attendance, Bible study, prayer, etc. through teaching and example. Only then we can truly accomplish the goal God has given us as parents. -2863 East High St. Springfield, OH 45505 firstname.lastname@example.org
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