It is good for us to teach moral behaviour
It is better for us to teach God's Word
It is the best for our children when we bring salvation to them.
Good, Better, Best .
What is salvation – salvation is being rescued, forgiven, relieved of my sins. Jesus brings salvation. How do we bring salvation to our children…?
First of all we can't – salvation is an issue of the heart and the children are in “control” of their own hearts the same as we are. All we can do as parents is make their hearts soft – remember the parable of the soil and the sower. We need to pray that God will speak to our children and that He will prompt their hearts to turn to Him. That is all we can DO in this area.
Our job is to represent – to show – Christ to our children. Our job is to keep their hearts soft towards God, His Word, and His Ways.
I'd like to quote (Italics = quote) from Primary Purpose – p 109….In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a choice between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Day after day they lived in the life of God, (God walked with them and spoke to them every day – a gentle stroll in the most beautiful place in the world) they lived like this with God until the serpent came to Eve and tempted her. She chose the knowledge of good and evil that the serpent offered her – and her husband did the same. You can refresh yourself of this story in Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-24. Instead of choosing life, they chose death.
Every day we have a choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil too.
Living in the tree of life means making choices that will lead to life – in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Living in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means making choices based on what is good and what is evil – which leads to death in us and possibly in those around us.
When we live our life out of the tree of knowledge of good and evil we become legalistic – We KNOW what is right and what is wrong and we react to that. This attitude leads us to condemn everyone who doesn't do the right thing. Choosing the tree of knowledge makes you filter everything through a value system of judging what is good and what is evil. Jesus came to release us from this type of thinking. Living in the Old Testament – it was there for all to see what was good and what was evil. People became experts on what was good – they didn't find life; they became critical and bitter and hard of heart because they could never be good enough. Other people become experts on evil and live by corruption – and surely their hearts are hardened too. Knowledge of good and evil always has the same result: death.
Living our life from the tree of Life is totally different though because the motivation, the purpose for reacting to a situation is different. When you choose to live from the tree of life your purpose is not to be right but to bring life to the situation or to bring a person to LIFE – to bring salvation to them, to bring God's Ways back into their life.
Speaking out of the tree of life – neither condones what is being done, nor is it sympathetic to their plight (sinful nature) but it does offer a way of escape – the Cross, Jesus' Way. My purpose, as a Christian parent, is to restore my child to life – not to pronounce harsh judgment on their actions.
Prov 11:30 was the verse that has challenged me in this line of thought.
The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
When you live in the tree of life you will be righteous (righteousness is not a pious holier than thou attitude – it is made right because of Jesus) As a result of living in the tree of life we will see people saved – this includes our children.
Ez 3:18,19 and James 5:19 talks of it being our responsibility to show God's ways to those who are not following them. This includes our children. If our children are not following God's ways – that is, not being kind, not preferring one another, not speaking gentle words etc then they are sinning and it is our responsibility to show them another way.
If they respond with acknowledging their bad behaviour with an attitude of wanting to change then we can lead them through repentance and accepting Jesus' forgiveness. This is what Prov 11:30 is talking about in saying “winning souls”. To win a soul is to bring it in line with Jesus.
1Sam 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and BRING him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”
The connection between these two verses is the word BRING (it is the same word/meaning in the original language the Bible is written in as SAVE). Samuel said he would not turn away, turn around or sit down till the youngest one was brought in. This is to be our attitude. We are not to sit down (relax), turn around (change course, move on to something else) turn away (forget about it) till the young one is brought in (soul is won – heart is changed). Brought in line with Jesus!
As a summary – what does all this mean?
1. We are to direct our children in the right way to live
2. We are to not move from this course until their hearts are changed
3. We are to offer them Jesus not condemn them for their wrong choices
It is our responsibility as a parent to redirect our children's choices to keep them in line with God's Word, but it is our responsibility as a parent to show our children Jesus and the life he has to offer. In that way we need to watch the words we say and make sure that they are not condemning and judging based on right and wrong but rather that they are life giving, leading toward Jesus and his forgiveness.
I am reminded of a little phrase that Pete and I have found helpful in times of conflict – are we in this to be right or are we in it for the relationship. This makes us focus on improving the relationships – it changes the battleground. Do we parent with the attitude that we are right or do we parent with the attitude that our children need to see Jesus as their only option.