As a parent, when I look at my children, what do I see? Do I just see young children? Do I see my young children? Do I see some of the most special blessings the Lord could possibly give me in the persons of my young children? Do I see my young children, created in God’s blessed image and entrusted to my care by God Himself to be prepared for His eternal kingdom? What I see when I look at my children will determine the basic direction I will take and just what I will emphasize in their rearing and training.
Hopefully, I will never see them as just kids. Hopefully, I will always identify with them in a close, personal way. I should not see them as just my kids. I should see them as belonging to the Lord as well. From the moment they are conceived it should be my purpose, my resolve to raise my children to belong to the Lord. I should do my very best to instill love for the Lord within their hearts. If I only see them as belonging to me I could become selfish, even careless in the way I raise my children. But seeing them not just as bundles of joy to bring me happiness, but as precious eternal souls to serve and bring glory to God, will make me much more careful in what I teach them, the examples I set before them and how I lead them through life.
Because I want the best for my children I will guide them to walk in the ways of the Lord, not in the ways of the world (Rom. 12:2). I will realize that many directions in life that seem good to one on the surface, upon more careful examination actually lead to failure, death and destruction (Prov. 14:12). I will teach my children to look for the true happiness and fulfillment found in faithfulness to God rather than in the temporary pleasures and ultimate unhappiness that are the natural result of sinful lifestyles (Heb. 11:24-26).
It will be my goal to teach my children, above all else, the ways of God (Eph. 6:1-4). I will try my best to guide them as to what is right, and I will correct them when they make mistakes. Sometimes, I will be tempted to overlook disobedience on their part. But because I love them so much, and because of who they are, I will discipline them in order that they may learn and see the value of the pathway of righteousness (Prov. 13:24).
My children are not just my children. They belong to the Lord, too. And they will not stay children for very long. Soon, they will be needed to take their places in leading the Lord’s church. They will need to carry the gospel message of salvation to lost souls all around them. They will need to become shining lights in a world of darkness in order that some will be able to find their way to the Lord. They will need to become loving, nurturing, guiding parents to their children, leading them in the ways of the Lord, guiding them to take their ultimate places in His church, preparing them to reach out to the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, when I look at my children I need to see a lot more than just “my” children. Their eternal destiny, and that of countless other souls, depends on what I see when I look at them. May God guide me to always keep them, and my role as their parent, in proper perspective…
Gary L. Hutchens