We all know the biblical account of Daniel and his three friends, who bravely took a stand against the king of Babylon and refused to worship an idol—even when threatened with being thrown into a fiery furnace.

They boldly proclaimed to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:17–18:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
the God we serve is able to deliver us from it,
and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.
But even if he does not, we want you to know,
Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods
or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

It is an inspiring account of young men who refuse to worship other gods, and who hold fast to their faith in the one and only living God.

 

 

Give Us This Day 14

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The Idol of Worldly Success

While we thankfully have the freedom to worship God in Singapore today, I can’t help but wonder if there might be another idol that some parents might have, and are convincing their children to keep as well—our education system and its promises of worldly success.

As Christian parents, we know that it is important to focus on our children’s walk with God, and to instill in them a faith in Him and His promises. However, it can be tempting to pursue academic aspirations on their behalf—whether it’s coaching them to join the Gifted Education Programme, to snag prestigious scholarships, or to ride on the latest educational trends that promise a passport to a world of riches and reputation.

While there’s nothing wrong with helping our kids to give their best in their studies, we might do well not to become over-obsessed with a narrow definition of academic success.

While there’s nothing wrong with helping our kids to give their best in their studies, we might do well not to become over-obsessed with a narrow definition of academic success.

Otherwise, our children may be robbed of the joy of lifelong learning. Instead of discovering their hope and identity in Christ, they may be confused by the idols around them telling them to find it in what the world deems as success.

So, how can we and our children resist these idols of the prevailing culture, like Daniel and his friends did? What was it about Daniel that shaped his convictions to be a young man of great integrity?

Daniel’s Upbringing

Daniel’s name means “God is my judge”, and the way he conducted himself showed how keenly aware he was of this truth.

In all that Daniel said and did, he strove to honour God.

Just 17 years old when he was brought into captivity in Babylon, and about 20 years old when he was put into the king’s service, Daniel demonstrated qualities that we can learn much from. For example:

  • Daniel was thoughtful of the company he kept. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah found one another—and found that they were in good company! They gave each other godly counsel, support, and encouragement in the face of difficult times.
  • Daniel was mindful of his words. Daniel and his friends learned the language and literature of their captors—yet they also held onto their mother tongue. They showed themselves to be respectful, polite, and courteous at every turn.
  • Daniel was careful of what he consumed. Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” with royal food and wine (Daniel 1:8), so that he would not be lured by the temptations of the prevailing Babylonian culture. He was always mindful to keep his body holy as a temple of God’s Spirit.
  • Daniel was faithful to the God whom he loved and who loved him. In all that Daniel said and did, he strove to honour God—whether it was rejecting the rich meals from the king’s table, truthfully interpreting the king’s visions, or praying openly to God despite a verdict prohibiting it.

What can we do as parents to raise such a Daniel in our kids? How can we ensure that they will be faithful to the very end?

Raising Our Children to Be Faithful to the End

God has tasked us to be stewards of our children, which means that we have been given the privilege and responsibility of raising His children to be His disciples, for His glory.

No matter what our children’s grades are today, or their jobs tomorrow, what is important in light of eternity is that they should know, love, and serve the Lord.

No matter what our children’s grades are today, or their jobs tomorrow, what is important in light of eternity is that they should know, love, and serve the Lord. As stewards appointed to this task, we have a critical role to play in leading our children to the saving knowledge of Jesus and guiding them to grow as disciples of Christ.

As a father of three and a grandfather to two, here is some advice I would like to humbly share with you from experience:

1. Pray for your children

Pray for your children every day and night. As we present our prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings to the Lord daily, it will help us remember what is needful for our child’s well-being and development. They will always be on our minds!

Pray for them holistically—not just for their academic, mental, physical, and social development, but for their spiritual growth, too.

Pray for them holistically—not just for their academic, mental, physical, and social development, but for their spiritual growth, too. We can pray that our children will grow as Jesus did—“in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Just as many parents might set academic targets for their kids each year, we can do likewise for their spiritual growth. For example, apart from planning their extra-curricular activities and enrichment classes, we can also plan what Bible verses they can memorise weekly, and what new Christian children’s songs we can teach them.

2. Attend church as a family

Make time to attend church service together with your children. If we are consistent in our church attendance and service to the Lord, our children will see the significance of gathering as a spiritual family to worship, serve, and learn God’s Word together.

You can also find ways to “enrich” their church life—such as signing them up for kids’ programmes or volunteering to serve in Sunday school.

If we are consistent in our church attendance and service to the Lord, our children will see the significance of gathering as a spiritual family to worship, serve, and learn God’s Word together.

Imagine the wonderful memories they will have, of growing up and learning about God and His Word from your lips, watching you teach and love their best friends, and feeling your devotion and compassion.

If your children are of preschool-going age, you can also consider enrolling them in a Christian preschool, where they can learn God’s truth and experience His love in a Christian environment from a young age.

3. Spend time with your children

Carve out time from your day to spend time with your children—away from the television and without a gadget in hand. Play with them, talk to them, and listen to what they have to say, without distractions.

Children love to tell stories—almost as much as they love to listen to them. Share with them about your daily trials and thanksgivings in living the Christian life.

Remember that you are your children’s greatest hero, their first best friend, and their best guide to being like Jesus.

Remember that you are your children’s greatest hero, their first best friend, and their best guide to being like Jesus. Your life and your stories are likely to be far more meaningful to them than any lessons they hear. And if you tell them enough of your life stories, they will tell you theirs!

Being Missionaries in Our Home

The late Dr. Bobby Sng, a beloved missionary and teacher in Singapore, once said that there are two ways to “do missions”. One is to go to where the world is, and the other is to go to where the world comes to you.

Christian researchers on evangelism describe a “golden window”, which some call “the 4/14 window”. They find that up to 4 in 5 Christians report coming to believe in Christ between the ages of 4 and 14.

As parents, we exert the greatest spiritual influence on our children’s lives as evangelists and missionaries in our own home.

As parents, we exert the greatest spiritual influence on our children’s lives as evangelists and missionaries in our own home. Indeed, we are situated in what is arguably the most productive and fruitful mission field in the world.

In his book Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, author George Barna wrote:

“People are much more likely to accept Christ as their Saviour when they are young. Absorption of biblical information and principles typically peaks during the preteen years . . . Anyone who wishes to have significant influence on the development of a person’s moral and spiritual foundations had better exert that influence while the person is still open-minded and impressionable—in other words, while the person is still young.”

We have a privileged responsibility to be God’s instrument in laying a firm and everlasting foundation in our children’s lives, on which they can build lives of devotion, obedience, and service to the glory of God. What higher calling can we parents aspire to, and what mission can we engage in that is more important in bearing fruit in the long run?

Daniel was taught and raised by a family and spiritual community that fulfilled the great mandate of God’s purpose for His people, kingdom, and glory. May we, too, bring up our children in the ways of the Lord, and may our heart’s desire be to raise a Daniel for His glory.

 

This article was originally published on kingdomgarten.org.
Adapted with permission.

 

Dr. Oswald Goh is a general practitioner in private practice, and an elder of Zion Serangoon Bible-Presbyterian Church. He is a committee member of Kingdomgarten Preschool Services. He has been married to June for 38 years, and together they have three grown-up children, and a pair of identical twin grandsons whom they dote over and enjoy immensely.
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