Why A Parent’s Affection For Jesus Is The Greatest Gift
Hypocrisy can kill faith.
The greatest hindrance to the Gospel parents can give their children is a life in public that says, “I love Jesus,” and then a life in private at home that says, “I don’t love Jesus.” That parental example can kill faith in Jesus before it is born in our children.
I remember attending a conference where the speaker spoke to pastors in the room. His message was a plea for pastors to love their children well by being the same person at church that they are at home. His point was simple: if we don’t live out the same faith at home that we show to be important to us in church, our children will inevitably think Jesus isn’t really that important to dad, so why should he be important to me?
While this was aimed at pastors and their children, there’s no need to separate it for those in professional ministry and those who aren’t. Every single believing parent is a witness to our children of what we value. If we cherish Jesus, it will be known to our children.
There is no greater apologetic to the value of God for our children than a parent who truly believes God is worthy of our love.
Value What You Say You Value
If your children see you love Jesus, they will be more likely to love Him as well. This is one of the great blessings of children raised in a family of faith. They get the benefit of being children of the covenant, hearing about God’s love for them before they are even old enough to respond.
Parents, grandparents, and family are the first line of examples to our children. God has charged us to be good examples to our children to draw them to the Lord. So Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” How we live, our example before our children, is part of the training.
When we wake early and spend time with the Lord in morning devotions and prayer, our children are watching. When we jumpstart our neighbor’s car battery while in a hurry, our children are watching. When we make a meal for someone in need, our children are watching. When mom and dad fight and forgive each other, our children are watching. And when we give in to irritation and yell, our children are watching.
I would argue the number one way we can pursue for our children to love the Lord is that we, as parents and family, love the Lord visibly. Not just in word, but in deed. A child who sees parent’s in love with Jesus is more likely to love Jesus as well than not. Likewise, a child who sees her parent’s lives transformed by Jesus’ love for them will be more likely to allow their own lives to be subject to the transforming power of God.
Our children, from little to grown, see what it is their parents value. And crucial here is that what we say we value and what we actually value line up.
The Danger Of Hypocrisy
If your children see a different you on Sunday as you attend church, from how you relate to those around you in a loving and care filled way, to how you sing your heart out to the Lord, but this same transformed life in Christ is absent at home, there is a problem.
That problem has a name: hypocrisy. Jesus says this about hypocrites in the church:
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:7-9)
Jesus nails it. It’s about the heart. We want our children to have hearts drawn to the Lord. If that’s our longing, we must model it for them. And no amount of makeup can fake this kind of modeling. Our five-minute example to a neighbor might be easy, but a five-year modeling of a heart that loves Jesus cannot be faked. Our children are watching.
Parents, grandparents, family, church, let us run from being examples of hypocrisy to our children. Instead, let us model a heart that loves Jesus by actually loving Jesus with all that we are. After all, if you love Jesus, your children will be more likely to love Him as well.
While your witness is the greatest witness to your children of the goodness of God, you are not alone in your child’s coming to and depending upon the Lord.
Rest In The Sovereignty of God
Parents, if you are like me and struggle with these realities, wanting my children to see how much I love Jesus, don’t beat yourself up when you fail. Instead, take comfort in this reality—your child comes to faith by God’s doing, not yours.
The Lord has designed that we may be an integral part of that calling our child to faith, but the doing, at the end of the day, of your child’s salvation is God’s work. How many children have come to faith without believing parents? How many children love Jesus when they grew up with Sunday hypocrites in mom and dad?
So mom, dad, if you’re struggling here, there is hope. God can show your child grace in spite of you. He can save your son or daughter entirely by His sovereign hand apart from you. So there is hope here for parents who are struggling.
Yet, there is a certain pressure upon us in the high calling to parent well. To love Jesus in public and private and call our children to do the same. You are called to this task! But the pressure is not entirely on you. It’s on God. God alone saves.
If it’s years later, your children are raised and out of the house and still don’t believe, trust God. Pray for your child. God alone saves.
If your child is four years old and asking questions about Jesus, trust God. Pray for your child and with them. Model a heart that loves Jesus. And remember, God alone saves.
And if your child loves Jesus, trust that God will keep them. Pray for their perseverance and thank God for their salvation and that He alone saves.
O’ parents, let us be examples to our little or grown ones that Jesus is precious to us. Let us model a heart leaning into Christ daily. There is no greater witness, save Scripture, to the goodness of God than a parent who truly believes God is good.