A Gospel Position
Our children are growing up in a world where anti-Biblical influence is far greater and more prevalent than influence centered on Biblical virtues. I struggle at times with the reality that this influence is so pervasive in the lives of our children. They are exposed to ideas and viewpoints that do not align with Scripture at a much younger age than you and I were, and they are forced to process these things way too soon. The world tells them that Jesus is anything but the Son of God, ultimately denying the Creator of all things. They will live in a world that does not honor God and His character, and they will interact with people who do not reflect Jesus. Quite frankly, they are growing up in a world that hates the Gospel of Jesus Christ and altogether denounces His Throne.
It can be a scary time to raise children. Or it can be a time, as believers, that we fight to raise a generation of children who stand boldly for the Gospel. I am convinced that this begins in our homes, modeling and talking about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ to our children. How can we position our families to be soldiers for the Lord, living out the Gospel in our day-to-day?
During my second year of marriage, I was honored to be a bridesmaid in a good friend’s wedding. My husband and I didn’t have children at the time, but God gave me an experience that day that has stayed so fresh on my mind as we now navigate how and when to have Gospel conversations with our three young children.
As custom with many weddings, we gathered at the church the evening before the wedding to have a rehearsal for the ceremony. The wedding party all arrived, received instructions from the wedding director and lined up outside the church doors, ready to practice the wedding processional. Abruptly, the bride began to cry – not an emotional “I’m getting married” kind of cry but a cry that showed she was obviously very upset. The bridesmaids immediately began an investigation to determine what was going on – asking her question after question attempting to uncover any clues. She eventually expressed her concern and worry about the behavior of her ring bearer.
Her ring bearer, as cute as could be, was a typical high-energy 4-year-old little boy. He was all over the place, doing whatever he could to pass the time. His patience with the rehearsal eventually expired and his boredom began to cause misbehavior. He had reached his max in attention span just as we were ironing out the last few details of the ceremony. Like with many young children his age, his response to deal with the conflict within himself was to act out. The bride’s anxiety (understandably) skyrocketed at the thought of the same behavior taking place on her wedding day. The boy’s mother immediately pulled him aside for a “motherly disciplining session” and instructed him to apologize to the bride. He did.
What happened next is deeply rooted in my memory and had an immediate impact on me as a new wife (at the time) with the desire to one day be a mother.
The bride’s 6-year-old nephew was standing nearby witnessing everything unfold. He remained quiet, not saying a word until the apology happened. He then quickly interjected with a very loud and a very confident, “WE FORGIVE YOU!” – almost as if he had been “trained” in the response.
A seed was planted within me: Modeling confession and forgiveness to our children and “training” them to do so to others positions us to have Gospel conversations with our children. When they confess and apologize to others, it prepares them to understand the importance of confession to God, and to put it into practice. Likewise, offering forgiveness to others prepares them to understand the life-changing power of God’s forgiveness available to them through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This idea is still so fresh on my mind today, and just as impactful.
Nine years later, the seed has taken root. I am now the mother of 3 young children ages 7, 5 and 2 who are being trained in “confession and forgiveness” because of this experience. Is the “I’m sorry” always heartfelt? No. It rarely is. Is the “I forgive you” always joyful? No. Hardly ever. But as parents who have been entrusted by God to train His children in holiness, the long-term goal is to do our part to the best of our ability to position them to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior one day – to confess their sins and desperate need for Jesus, and to receive the grace upon grace that He lavishes on those who confess Him as Lord.
We know, ultimately, our children’s salvation is up to the Lord. We must acknowledge that and REJOICE in that! Nothing we do as parents will change the course of their salvation. Hallelujah! Praise God for His all-knowing, sovereign character. And Hallelujah, Praise God that our children’s salvation does not depend on our limited effort as parents. There would be no hope for them. God softens the heart. God reveals sin. God saves the sinner. Hallelujah!
We are simply to be vessels for the Lord as parents, ready to be used by God at any moment for His Kingdom work. Training our children to confess when they have done wrong and quickly offer forgiveness to others who have wronged them is certainly Kingdom work.
I’m reminded of Acts 4:11-12, “Jesus is ‘the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone’. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Oh, how our world would change if a whole generation of children were to be raised according to the Truth of God’s Word!
Our prayer now, as our children grow in the life-giving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, is for the “I’m sorry” to be sincere and heartfelt, and for the “I forgive you” to be full of joy as the Lord begins to reveal Himself to them. This part is done by the heart-changing power of Christ, and Christ alone!
I find it no coincidence that shortly after my friend’s wedding, we found out that I was pregnant with our first child. In God’s perfect timing, life had already begun inside my womb when He allowed me to have an experience that day in preparation for Biblical motherhood. I love His intimate concern for the smallest details of our lives.
So, Mommas, may we always be positioned to overflow with Gospel-focused influence on our children! May we be attentive to His voice and seek Him wholeheartedly as we navigate “raising arrows” for the Lord. May we look for opportunities to speak life into our children, sharing with them the Truth about our Creator. And may we always be Gospel-minded as we teach them the incredible life-saving power of Christ, and Christ alone!
Let’s talk about it…
- What are some ways we can “position” our families to have Gospel conversations within our home?
- Are there any “influences” that we are allowing into our homes that are not God-honoring?
- What are some verses that we can remember to help us stay Gospel-focused throughout our day-to-day as mothers?