We have seen from Psalm 127 there are three principles that should pattern our parenting as Christians. It is ultimately that truth of the gospel that sets the rhythm of our parenting. We will now look at how to parent in sync with that rhythm in order that our parenting might be a life-giving dance.
First, we seek wisdom for parenting in the gospel. Too often we seek wisdom from the world around us. We let the norms and patterns and expectations of others or the latest trends inform the way we parent our children. However, wisdom is first a person. In the gospel, Christ is our wisdom. This is the apostle Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 1.30 when he says, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God.” He, as the perfect man, is in tune with the patterns and rhythms of life God established in the beginning. This makes sense since he, as the Son of God, was the agent, the mediator of creation, through whom God created the world. As such, he is our exemplar, our model, our example in wisdom. He is not only wise where we are foolish but bids us to follow him in becoming wise. There are countless muses who likewise bid us come and follow. Peruse any bookstore and you will doubtless find numerous books claiming to solve the great mysteries of parenting—how to get your baby to sleep through the night, how to tame the terrible twos, how to make sure you child enters school prepared, how to make sure your child isn’t socially ostracized, how to make sure your child is college ready—the list is exhausting. Yet for all the wisdom the world claims to have, the wisdom in Christ is truer and richer still. Apart from looking first to Christ and becoming wise like him, we will undoubtedly, and perhaps unknowingly, become foolish like the world. So, as JC Ryle, a 19th century English pastor encourages us, sit and learn at the foot of the cross. And become wise.
We are far too concerned with the hindrance of children in the building of our kingdom and far too blind to the role of children in the building of God’s kingdom.
Second, we raise our children in the gospel for the gospel. In Christ, our children have a missional, an evangelistic purpose. This, as we have seen, has been the design for children from the beginning. They are arrows for the sake of the gospel. If we were honest, we live in a culture that is far too concerned with the monetary cost of children and far too blind to the missional purpose of children. To say it another way, we are far too concerned with the hindrance of children in the building of our kingdom and far too blind to the role of children in the building of God’s kingdom. We delay having children so we can go on the vacation of our dreams. We regret having children because we cannot buy a new car. We complain we cannot go to the restaurants we like and enjoy because of our children. We complain constantly of the mess our children make in the cathedral of our homes. And yet our penchant to concern ourselves with the cost of children or the hindrance of children reveals that we are more concerned with the building of our kingdom—a fleeting kingdom that will surely perish—than the kingdom of God—a kingdom that will endure forever and ever without end. Let that sink in for a moment. These things reveal that we are more concerned with the building of a kingdom made of straw, that will be reduced to nothing in the end, that will burn up in the fires of judgment than we are with investing in and building the Kingdom of all kingdoms, the kingdom that will endure forever and ever. So, for the Christian, the home ought to be ground zero of discipleship.
Labor long and labor hard for the sake of the glory of the gospel and the good of your children.
Fathers, raise up children to be devoted followers of Christ. Call your children to follow you as you follow Christ. Rise early in the morning and pray over your children. Teach them the Word at night. Proclaim the gospel to them that they might become proclaimers of it to others. Do not assume the gospel! Don’t assume that because you bring them with you to corporate worship on Sunday that is sufficient for their salvation. Don’t assume praying before a meal is teaching them to follow Jesus. It’s not! Do not assume your idleness, and perhaps even indifference to these matters, will somehow bring about their redemption. That is foolishness! Fathers, we will be held liable before the Almighty Judge of all the earth for these things. So I beg you to labor long and labor hard for the sake of the glory of the gospel and the good of your children. Raise your children up in the gospel for the sake of the gospel.
Third, we commend our children to God in the gospel. How are we to raise up children in the gospel for the gospel? Let the grand biblical narrative of God’s redeeming all things in and through Christ pervade your home. Tell the story of God’s grace to your children, and tell it to them often. Let this story be cherished and treasured in your home. I remember holding each of our children after they were born and begging God to save them. Even from the moment we knew Emily was pregnant, there has been a gut-wrenching realization that apart from Christ, our children have no hope. They are born in inequity, born under the wrath of God, and under his wrath they will remain unless God rescues them. I can do nothing but beg God to do what only God can do. And yet he charges me to proclaim the gospel to them so that, if he so wills, my words will be the wings upon which the Spirit flies into their hearts and quickens saving faith in Jesus. It is a heavy, heavy burden that I am charged by God to proclaim the hope of Christ to them. So I beg and plead for God to show them mercy as I make him known to them. We give back to God the children he has given to us. And they are, in the hands of God, indeed arrows in the hands of an unconquerable yet benevolent Warrior who aims them at his glory and the eternal good of his people.