What will I pass down?
Today’s sermon is about parenting. According to Psalm 112, it says that the person who fears the Lord will have descendants who are blessed. Are our children happy? If not, why? We want them to have lives that are happy, so let us think about the conditions for happiness.
Children must not ignore the experience of their parents. The parents have lived longer and know more. But the parents must also know that the times have changed. Both parents and children need to understand that only the truth of the Bible does not change. The Bible thus gives both parents and children a platform for communication. One important task that we need to fulfil as parents is to pass down the blessing of eternity to our children: to allow them to grow up in the covenant. We must not pass down the faith not only in words, but in joy, happiness, and all the blessings of the covenant through our lives. Unless we have that joy, that blessing, we cannot pass it down.
What kind of people do we want our children to be? Rich and successful? Good at socializing? Tenacious through difficulties? Humble and kind? Or having good faith in God? Which would we choose if we could only choose one? Sometimes the choice is not ours. We need to first change ourselves and let our children see the characteristics of their parents. If the parents’ words in the church do not match with their behaviour at home, the children will learn that Christianity is all about hypocrisy.
We need to change our language
We need to first change our language and words. As people who receive the living Word of God, we need to speak living words and words that give life. This doesn’t just apply to parenting, but to evangelism and discipleship as well. Our words have the power to heal and to give life. When we speak living and positive words from our heart, our children can be empowered to change in a positive way. We need to speak words that show how much we understand our children. The most useless words are nagging words. Without our nagging, what else is left in our conversations with our children? Parents have a God-given task to tell their children to do things, but we need to trust them as well without too much nagging. Nagging is rarely effective, so let us try to change our words into positive words rather than imperatives.
Head language is purely cognitive and emotionless. We give lectures on what we know, and that’s it. Heart language is more powerful because it touches on four basic feelings, happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. We shouldn’t try to override the feelings of our children even though it seems insignificant to us. We need to empathize and feel the feelings of our children. How do we respond when our children accomplish something good? Do we play down their achievements? Or do we celebrate along with them? The first step to opening up and unlocking our children’s hearts and abilities is trusting them, believing them, rejoicing together in times of happiness, and crying together in times of sadness.
Body language is extremely important as well. Eye contact, eye level, posture, and facial expression communicate sincerity. When we lean forward in conversation, it shows that we are fully giving our attention. When the children realize that the parent is not paying attention, they will disconnect as well. Jesus Christ came in the flesh so that He could empathize with us and receive us in His heart (Hebrews 4:16). He came so that we could come nearer to Him. And so we need to step forward first in improving our relationship with our children.
The way we parent our children has a huge and lasting effect on our future generations. It all depends on how we live our lives from today, rather than up to today. Things can change. The Bible talks about passing down the Word of the Lord to future generations, with all the fullness of blessings that accompanies each generation.
We need to repent and seek forgiveness
Finally, we need to repent and seek forgiveness. Things can be fixed when there’s repentance and forgiveness. When we receive the love of Jesus, we can forgive our children and our parents. Both the parents and children need to seek the others’ forgiveness and show thankfulness to each other. When our direction changes, that is true repentance.
In conclusion, our children are people of God. The Bible tells fathers ‘do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). How do we do that? The Bible doesn’t tell us to be afraid of our children or to spoil them, but to teach them. ‘He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in need’ (Proverbs 13:24-25). God says to teach your children and to raise them to be able to do two things, love God, and love their neighbour. Do not discipline your children in anger. Speak to them with respect, even when you are disciplining them. We need to pray to God every moment when we are speaking with our children. Rather than forcing them to do what we think is right, we need to teach them the Word of God. The problems our children have reflects our own personal problems. Trust that God is raising them and see yourself as God’s tool for raising your children.