What are your children like? When you look at them, do you see them growing into the people you want them to be, reflecting all the qualities of Christ you would like to see in them? Or are there times when you still see certain things you wish you didn’t?
“When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image…” (Genesis 5:3 NASB)
God’s Word is amazing in that if we are not careful, we can fly right past something, not realizing that there is a huge lesson in a particular phrase or passage that seems of no special significance. If we look at today’s verse, for example, we see that “Adam…became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image.” This is in contrast with when God created Adam: “…In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.” (Genesis 5:1) At creation, God made Adam in God’s own image. This doesn’t mean Adam looked like God; it means Adam was without sin, like God. But after sin entered the world, the son born to Adam had his father’s sin nature “built into him” from the day he was born. He didn’t have to do anything to get it; it was passed on to him generationally. This explains why our children don’t always end up acting, thinking, and speaking like we would like them to.
Because I am born with a sin nature, my children will also be born with this very sin nature. I should neither be surprised or dismayed that this is so–it can be no other way! Of course, it is my hope that as I present Christ to them, as I teach them what is right and what is wrong, as I take them to church and pray with them and read the Bible with them faithfully, that they will turn their hearts toward Jesus and experience the new birth and also be born into God’s family supernaturally. But this is not a given–it is not certain. God explains:
“But as many as received…[Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) We are not born into God’s family when we are born physically. We each have to recognize our fallen sin nature and inability to please God apart from Jesus and accept His authority over us personally–be born of God–or we will forever remain dead in our spirits and in an eternal state of condemnation before God.
Jesus told Nicodemus:
“…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”(John 3:5-7)
Our physical existence is argued by none because it is so obvious. We can see a living breathing human being and clearly recognize the life it has as well as when it is no longer alive. But our spiritual existence is a little more difficult to recognize–even when we are dead spiritually, our physical bodies function–so people try to pretend everything is fine. We still live and breathe and do everything everyone else does–except that our spirits are dead to God. (We know we are spiritually dead when we want nothing to do with God; when we hate hearing what He says and have to reminded to pray, go to church or read the Bible.) But what about the children of Christians–why don’t the children of faithful Christians always end up coming to a knowledge of the truth and accepting Christ at an early age themselves? Why do some of them end up believing some really strange–and really dangerously wrong–things? I suppose that the answer to this is a mixture of several different reasons.
Perhaps the family is divided–maybe either mom or dad aren’t Christian and the kids end up getting the idea that obedience to Jesus is optional–they’ve grown up with the example of a parent who is in rebellion to God and lightning doesn’t strike him or her down, so they come to think God isn’t real or is not to be taken seriously. Maybe the parents genuinely do believe in Jesus and are committed to Him, but one or the other doesn’t follow Him as he or she should–there are vestiges of sin in their life they haven’t done away with–and their children see them as hypocritical. Or perhaps they have simply been influenced by ideas outside of the family that they have bought into.
Regardless of what the case is, what should we do if we, as parents, look at our maturing children and don’t necessarily see the singleminded commitment to Christ we would like to, or if we see them being misled or deceived by certain philosophies and they no longer seem to be hearing what we are saying?
THE FIRST THING WE MUST DO IS TO CLING TO CHRIST FAITHFULLY OURSELVES AND NOT LOSE HEART. God promises, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV) The promise is that at the proper time, we WILL reap a harvest, if we do not give up. WE MUST NOT GIVE UP!
THE SECOND THING WE MUST DO IF WE SENSE THAT WE HAVE NOT YET REAPED A FULL HARVEST IN OUR CHILDREN IS TO CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THEM:
“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:1-8 NLT)
We are also told, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT) If we are to be persistent in our prayers for all believers everywhere, should we not be persistent in our prayers for our own children?!
AND, OF COURSE, BESIDES NOT LOSING HEART AND CONTINUING TO PRAY FOR OUr CHILDREN, WE MUST RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO GIVE UP TO THE ENEMY OF THEIR SPIRITS: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” GI Peter 5:6-10) This clearly applies to our own temptations, but consider that giving up on the souls of our children is also a temptation to weary, aging parents. It is simply too easy to say, “They’re gown, they’ve made their decision in life, they are beyond help now. ” They are not beyond the redeeming and gracious hand of God at any time during their life, and we must never stop praying for them and witnessing Christ to them!
We live in a corrupt world. It is not what it was when God created it, and the effects of sin are everywhere. It is not what will be found when we stand before our Lord and Savior in eternity, but it is what we have here. We must resolve what is our purpose for existing in this life. Is it to live only for the present, or to serve Christ and be His mouthpiece? Is it just to set our children upon their feet financially and academically, so they can have a good life here on earth? Or is it to bring them to the foot of the cross–to a recognition of their dire need for salvation regardless of the degree of their material success in this life? May God give us the grace to persevere!
Give us the grace to persevere until we know with certainty that, “…because…[they] are sons…[You have] sent forth the Spirit of…[Your] Son into…[our children ‘s hearts] hearts, [and they] cry…out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6) Amen!