Written by Karen Carlson
So, what would you say is the top priority of a loving parent towards his or her child?—Giving them quality time? Providing a sound education? Teaching them compassion? Demonstrating and modeling love and affection? Educating them on wisdom and discernment? All these virtuous goals are crucial, but there is one goal that exceeds all others—it is more vital than life itself.
The Top Priority:
The pinnacle of parental concern is to be an evangelist in the home. Children need to understand the law of God by your showing them their need for a Savior, and point them to Jesus Christ as the only Redeemer who can save them. Don’t think you need to wait until your child is 7 or 8 years old before you share the reality of eternal salvation. Children are like sponges from a very early age. Anyone who has had children is well aware of that fact. Before they are 2 years old, they are capable of learning and understanding a multitude of words and directives from not just one language, but two, simultaneously. They have no mental or psychological barriers that one typically develops as one gets older. By the time they are 3 and 4, they are far more accomplished than many adults realize and are able to understand a great deal of the Bible’s concepts in the form of simple stories—peoples’ character, rewards and punishment and cause and effect.
Does God’s Word support the parents’ duty to provide spiritual leadership to their children? Deuteronomy 11:19 is one of numerous passages regarding parents rearing their children in the ways of Christ. This reading is a beautiful display of how parents should familiarize their children about the Lord. Here, parents are told to fix and attach God’s words and teachings into children’s hearts in any way possible: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.” How often?–continually! To be sure, however, this is no guarantee any child will, necessarily, stay in the Church and keep the faith as they become older. But what this Scripture does say is that parents need to use every available opportunity as a teaching tool to bring God into the home and make Christ the center of everyday life. Saying grace at the table; thanking God for the rain after a dry-spell; praising God for a near-accident that could have resulted in injury; reading Bible stories to your children before they go to bed and reciting their bedtime prayer when it’s time to call it a day.
The author of Proverbs encourages parents in that their labors will not go in vain. “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it,” (Proverbs 22:6, NET).
Children begin, very early, to understand and appreciate God’s presence, power, protection and provision. Children will logically include God in their conversations and, perhaps to their chagrin, realize they are not, after all, the center of the Universe. God’s supernatural-ness will become very natural to their developing, attentive minds.
There Is No Neutral Innocence:
Parents may be surprised to learn that children do not enter the world as sin-free babies—they are adorable, without doubt; but they are not sinless. Psalm 51:5 is quite stunning: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me”. Children do not come into the world with even a smidgeon of neutral innocence. They come into our lives seeking the fulfillment of selfish desires. Sin is not learned, but is an innate characteristic of all humans. Adam’s fall tainted the entire human race; no one is exempt. In spite of babies’ playful coos, their bright eyes, their contagious giggles and their delightfully pudgy fingers and toes, depravity lives in their hearts and waits for opportunities to express itself.
Because sin is such a human experience and since we all battle our sins our entire lives, parents have a huge responsibility to channel their children’s motives and behaviors in godly ways. It’s not an easy task; and Christian parents who teach biblical truths realize there is only one remedy for their child’s inborn depravity—the new birth—regeneration. And regarding salvation, Jesus made it clear: “…you must be born again.” (John 3: 6-7).
Children, who have no prior teaching regarding how the Holy Spirit needs to work in their hearts to break away from sin, will lack the capacity, as they get older, to please God or obey Him from the heart. Until your children are born again, they are dead in ‘trespasses and sins’ (Ephesians 2:1). Those children who glean godly principles and genuinely apply them in their lives and love the Lord, end up giving their parents the most precious gift of all—their knowledge of their own child possessing saving faith. There is NO greater gift for a parent than knowing their child will be an eternal part of God’s Kingdom!
Lord, please surround my children with friends and other adults who point them toward You~