We all want the best for our children.
Before our children are born, we seek out the best prenatal care, mothers take care of their bodies to ensure a healthy pregnancy, and we read books and articles preparing for their birth.
After our children are born, we do all we can to ensure that they grow up in a safe, secure, and happy environment. We try to give them the best we can afford—the best toys, the best food, the best schools. In Singapore, many parents might fill their children’s days with classes and other activities, all with the aim of giving them a head start in life.
It is only right that we provide for all our children’s needs and help them grow well physically, emotionally, and intellectually. But as Christian parents, that is not our only role. We have a greater and far more important responsibility—to tell our children of the God who made them, loved them, and saves them.
What We Need to Tell Our Kids
Our children, just like us, are sinners in need of a Saviour. We are dead in our sin and are incapable of saving ourselves from the wrath and judgment of a holy God. But God, in His mercy, gave us Jesus who became our substitute, atoned for us on the cross, and conquered death. Now we can be reconciled to God and enjoy the life that God originally intended for us to have.
The gospel is the best thing we can give to our children, because it is the only answer to our biggest problem of sin.
This is the good news of the gospel. In fact, this is the best news for us. The gospel is the best thing we can give to our children, because it is the only answer to our biggest problem of sin.
Christian parents have the responsibility of teaching our children to love the Lord our God because He has saved them. Deuteronomy 6:5–9 tells us:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.
Teaching by Example
Telling our children about God and His wondrous deeds is not a one-time act, nor is it only a Sunday activity.
Our children are watching and learning from us all the time. They hear what we say and watch what we do. They pick out the inconsistencies in our lives, and can see when we do not mean what we say. The gospel not only needs to be told, but also needs to be lived out in our everyday life, guiding our conversations and the decisions that we make.
When they watch us read the Bible or join us to read the Bible together, our children learn that the Bible is not just a book to be opened and read during a Sunday church service, but is relevant and important to us every day and in every way.
When we pray with and for them, they learn that we are dependent on God and have the privilege of talking to Him anytime.
Do our children know that their identity is not in the school they attend or the grades they achieve but only in Jesus, who loved and saved them to be a child of God?
When we discipline our children with grace, we show them that we are always sinning, our hearts need transforming, and only Jesus can change that.
And when they watch us serve in church, they learn that Christians give of themselves in service and encouragement to each other because Christ gave himself up for the church.
How we spend our time and what we do with the resources God has given us, reflect what we value and prioritise.
Are we more concerned about our children’s grades or about their godliness? Do we spend time reading the Bible together and praying as a family, or are our days consumed with so many activities that there is no time for family devotion? Do our children know that their identity is not in the school they attend or the grades they achieve but only in Jesus, who loved and saved them to be a child of God?
What Really Matters
There is nothing wrong with enabling our children to pursue their passions or excel academically. But we would be doing them a disservice if we only focused on such pursuits without showing them that the best that they can have in this life is to live in God’s world, under God’s rule, enjoying God’s blessing.
Let us not chase after what is temporal and does not last, but cling on to what is eternal—living in God’s everlasting kingdom. The promises of “success” offered by the world is fleeting and will never make us truly happy. True joy and satisfaction can only be found in Jesus and not in anything this world has to offer.
There are no guarantees that our parenting will produce godly children. That is entirely the work of God.
So while we help our children to know their ABCs, memorise their multiplication tables, and maybe learn an instrument or two, let us put even more priority in ensuring that our children know the gospel—that their only hope in life and death is that they belong to God.
At the same time, as we faithfully teach our children God’s Word and try to raise them to know and follow Him, we need to remember that our children, just like us, are saved only by the grace of God.
There are no guarantees that our parenting will produce godly children. That is entirely the work of God. We teach and tell our children about Jesus because as recipients of God’s grace, we respond in obedience and gratefulness to what God has done for us and want to share this good news with our children. This is the best thing any Christian parent can do for their children.