We live in a world that has been deeply affected by sin, and anyone to whom God has given the responsibility to raise children knows this fact all too well. How could we ever hope to achieve the glorious task of seeing our children grow up to be giants of the faith when the power of sin seems so strong? The answer to this question lies not in human power, but in the power of God.
In Romans 1:16a, the apostle Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” In this passage, Paul is very clear—the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, both young and old. The gospel is not only for adults with fully developed brains. It is also for children; it is for those with young minds and simple understanding. The gospel saves sinners big and small!
What, then, is the key to raising children to fear the Lord? Seize opportunities to instill the gospel in their hearts and minds. More often than not, by the grace of God, these opportunities come to us in the natural rhythms of everyday life.
One of the most natural times to share the gospel with children is when they are being disciplined. Opportunities for gospel truth abound when sin is confronted. These moments allow parents to talk about God’s holiness, man’s sinful nature, and the forgiveness available in Jesus. Often, children know they should obey (and even desire to obey) but find they can not because they are still enslaved to their sinful nature. What a perfect time to proclaim the truth that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! Parents, fight the temptation to view discipline as a means to condition your children’s behavior. Instead, strive to see those everyday moments of discipline as opportunities to apply gospel truth to their hearts.
Other natural moments of gospel opportunity come when parents sin against their children. These present a golden opportunity for parents to live out their faith before their children’s eyes. When parents humble themselves and ask for forgiveness, they provide children an example of how Christians respond to sin (confession and repentance), and they are given the opportunity to speak of their own need for forgiveness in Jesus. Parents, fight the temptation to let pride keep you from confessing your sins to your children and asking for forgiveness. Humble willingness to live consistently with your faith adorns the very gospel you proclaim.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly—pray. You do not have the power to bring salvation to your children, but God does. Pray that the Holy Spirit would move in the hearts of your children to bring new life, and pray for opportunities to speak the powerful words of the gospel in natural and winsome ways. He delights to answer the prayers of His people, and He especially delights to answer prayers like these.
All the best,