bI have 5 children. Although there were many times of parenting conflicts with my children, and a lot of scurrying around to tennis matches, soccer practices and games, softball, and church activities, overall, my parenting experience has been beyond good. I love my kids. We get along wonderfully. As they are adults now, I look to them, still as my children, but also, increasingly, as friends. I enjoy my relationships with them immensely.
As I think about parenting, but also that responsibility in the larger context of my devotion to God, I want to pass on a few thoughts for you parents to consider. Think of it like an attorney summarizing his main points in his closing argument. I will let you decide the verdict and you are to respond:
- “children are a blessing from the Lord”, the Bible tells us
- idols are bad things and condemned by God—GotAnswers.org gives us this definition of what an idol is, “The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God”. An idol competes with the one True God for our attention, our affection, our time, our heart.
- Deuteronomy 5 records for us the 10 commandments with the first one being, “you shall have no other gods before Me”—- because there is only one true God, He desires and deserves our greatest allegiance. He should get from each of us our best.
- Luke 10:27 (nasb) says, “and he answered, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”
- getting back to the parenting thing— with all I’ve said about our love for God, and our love for our children, it is only reasonable that as parents, we would desire nothing more than for our children to have a vibrant relationships with God and, that they would recognize the importance of making their devotion to Him, priority number one
- God was looking to start a new nation of people who He would parent and shower down upon them His affection and attention. He would reveal Himself and His ways to them and they would walk in obedience to Him, and be used of God to be a light to the nations–that was the ideal
- to begin the nation, God needed to start with an individual–He chose a man named Abram (later to be called Abraham). Through much time and varied experiences, Abraham developed a great reverence for this one, true God. The problem was that he had no children between him and his wife Sarah. However, through an act of God, as she was 90 years old and he was 100, she became pregnant. This child, Isaac became the child born of promise by God. Abraham could see that God would fulfill His desire to raise up a nation through this child.
- interestingly enough, in Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to test the heart of Abraham, whether Abraham’s heart affections were more on the gift or the Giver. Without any apparent hesitancy, Abraham was ready to offer up Isaac up to God and as he held the knife in his hands ready to bring down that knife into the body of this precious boy, his son, but God stopped him before he did.
- God said to Abraham that because he did not withhold his son, He would certainly bless Abraham and multiply his offspring.
- the issue was Abraham’s heart –although it was obvious he loved his son, did he really love God more?
- please, also know that God loves children, God loves families, He is love. This test for Abraham was just a test. I believe with my whole heart, God had no intention of seeing Isaac killed. He would not let that happen
- The application question for us as parents is “where is our greatest affection?” and practically speaking, “what do our activities show our kids about our priorities?” Are we training them up to have no other gods before the one true God, or are we confusing matters by putting our own children ahead of God in our priority of our heart? At the root, are we guilty of making our own children “idols”, putting our affection, time, and attention more so on them, than on God?
- even Jesus said in Luke 14:25-26 (nasb)- “now large crowds were going along with Him, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
- I would say it is obvious by countless other Scriptures that Jesus desires us to love our family and others, but I believe what He is getting at is, “Who is most important to you?” Is it some kind of earthly relationship, even a family member or is it Him alone?
- Who is the Creator? Who is the Holy and Sovereign One? Who is the Savior of mankind? Who is God? Who deserves the highest honor above all else—it is God alone?
- So, to put some closure to this post, let me encourage you parents to look at your parenting and lifestyle? Do your kids feel loved? They should. But, would they say that you love God more than them? One thing I have learned over time is that our actions really speak louder than our words. We might tell our kids we love and worship the One True God, but I wonder how much they think we mean that when because of our kids’ activities, we regularly miss going to church, being involved in ministry to others, are not participating in small group studies with other believers to grow in our faith and community. Let not our love for our own kids become a source of idolatry.
Parenting is tough. I get that. Being a parent myself (it really never ends) to five kids, I understand the many expectations on kids and the commitments that are asked of them if they want to be in some music programs, sports activities, or school functions. But, more important than their involvements in these activities and greater lasting, is what you are communicating to them about the reality of your faith.
Are you willing to regularly put aside the opportunities to worship and grow in your faith to participate in programs to make your kids happy? If so, what are you really teaching them about your own obedience and belief in this One, True God (you shall have no other gods before Me).