Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Developing Spiritual Character in our Children - I

When Jesus talked with his disciples about prayer, he could not help but talk about the generosity and goodness of God: 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11.11-13) Of course God could give us anything He wants because He owns all things - He is the Creator! However, the gift of choice is the Holy Spirit. Among other things, this tells us God is intimately concerned with the development of our spiritual character. God did not promise to give us nice houses and healthy bodies - His great gift was the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

This past Sunday was Father's Day and a good time to reflect on whether or not we as fathers are striving to develope spiritual maturity in our children. Are we focused and intentional in the devlopment of our children's spiritual character? Often the answer is - I would like to be but how? How do I as a father spiritually lead my children?

2 Timothy 1.2 reads: To Timothy, my dear son. 2 Timothy is not only a book for young pastors; it is a book where a spiritual father passes on spiritual lessons to his spiritual son. How do I as a father spiritually lead my children? Look to 2 Timothy as a father gently instructs his son to faithfully serve the Lord. What lessons can we learn from 2 Timothy on how to nurture our children in the Lord?

1. Pray for your children 1.3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Paul begins quietly on his knees. Ephesians 5 bears witness to the fact that men can be extremely selfish. How can we argue when God says in Ephesians 5.28: In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. If we carried out this command, our wives would be the most loved women in the world! And so also our prayer lives can be so focused on our needs and our careers and our issues that we forget to pray for our children. Or, even worse, our hearts can be so filled with this world that we pray this world for our children and forget to pray for their spiritual needs.

Ask yourself how often do you pray for their salvation? When is the last time you prayed that your children would not only be saved but live lives that would be radically pleasing to God - alone. Even if your children are grown, do you pray for them as the world desires to take them into her arms?

How do I begin? Paul says - Timothy, I pray constantly for you. We begin on our knees, bowing before a gracious and sovereign God, pleading for the sake of our children.

2. Spend time with your children 1.4: As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. It is amazing to read the relationship between Paul and Timothy and how they delighted in one another's presence. It almost appears to be the David and Jonathan of the New Testament. Paul is longing to see his son so that he might be an encouragement to him and that he might know that Timothy is doing well.

Fathers - invest time into your children. Do not leave it to someone else to make sure they know their Bible and develope Godly character. In Deut 6.4-6 we are told we are to speak to our children about the ways of God and we are also told to tie them (God's commands or ways) as symbols to your hands and bind them on your foreheads. What does that mean? I think it means that when we invest time in our children, we not only talk to them about God but we "live God" in front of them. We mentor them with our actions. So as we spend time with them they watch a Godly man living for the Lord - how he loves his wife, fixes his house and relates to his neighbours.

Spend time with your children to reflect the glory of Christ and to show them the great joy of knowing the Lord.

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