The Word of God has a lot to say about children and how we parent them. After all, Scripture tells us that “children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).
Yet, the “gift” and “reward” part of parenting can be a little tough to see when our little ones whine or keep us up night after night, and when our older ones lie to us or talk back. This is when it’s a parent’s job to maintain some perspective and honor our role as stewards of the children we are raising to glorify God.
Here are three ways we’re reminded that children are a gift from God.
3 Ways Children Are a Gift from God
1. Children teach us to be the best versions of ourselves. Like any parent can tell you, children do what we do, not what we say. Take a minute to watch your kid and see how much of your behavior they imitate — in the way they talk to people, cope with frustrations, eat, or prioritize their responsibilities.
If you do this, chances are you’re not going to like the version of you that you see reflected in them.
Scripture states that children are to honor their parents, and parents are to be the pride of their children (Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 17:6). Knowing that we, as parents, are to be our children’s examples in life incentivizes the faithful parent to live in a way that’s worthy of our children’s honor and pride.
In thinking of the behavior we model for our children, the utmost importance is the way we live our faith. Our best bet is to follow the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have done unto you (Matthew 7:12).
When we live by the Golden Rule, treating others with dignity and proper boundaries falls into place more readily. Likewise, being slow to anger models patience and clear-headedness to the little eyes watching us at home (Proverbs 14:29).
The way we treat our bodies also has a profound effect on our children. The Bible asserts that our body is a temple within which the Holy Spirit resides, so everything we eat, drink, and do should be in honor of God (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Practicing self-control with what we consume honors our bodies as God’s creation.
Moreover, practicing self-control shows our kids that if they keep their bodies healthy today, they can have a happier future tomorrow. In contrast, ignoring healthy habits or paying undue attention to our appearance may sow the seeds of future insecurity and reckless living in our kids.
Our relationship with material goods can also be passed down to our kids. When looking for ways to make our children happy, we’re often influenced by the consumerism of our age in believing that we have to buy our kids more stuff. However, it almost never follows that the more things you have, the happier you are.
In fact, sage King Solomon wrote: “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). Show your kids that it is folly to store up treasures on earth that can rot away. Instead, teach them to focus on the lasting treasures that await them in heaven where their faithfulness will be rewarded with eternal life (Matthew 6:19-21).
2. Children carry the torch of our faith. Make no mistake, part of our role as parents is to set our children off on the right track in matters of faith. Luckily, the Bible gives us tips on how best to do this.
Moses declares that the faithful are to pass God’s commandments down to their children and to talk about God’s laws constantly with their family (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). The Book of Proverbs instructs parents to “train up a child in the way he should go” so that “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Jesus also gave us parenting advice when he said to let the little children go to Him and not to hinder them in their walk toward Christ (Matthew 19:14). The Apostle Paul counsels parents to bring their children up with discipline and Bible-based instruction, but to be mindful of not being overly harsh (Ephesians 6:4).
When we abide by our duty to pass our faith down to our children, we offer our kids a sense of security by giving them our time and continued guidance. Moreover, when we pass down our beliefs, we help our children feel like they belong to a faith-based community by taking them to church with us, where like-minded people unite in worship.
Steeping our children’s lives in faith also bolsters our children’s sense of purpose. Children are more likely to carry on the faith when they’re taught to rely on the Lord during challenging times. As Scripture promises, God’s plan is always to prosper our children and give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Even in times of tragedy and grief, children are more likely to keep the faith if they’re taught that God promises to take bad situations and bring good out of them for those who love and trust Him (Romans 8:28). Of additional comfort is the fact that God always keeps His promises (Psalm 145:13).
In keeping your household Christ-centered, you’re fortifying your child’s faith in life everlasting. It’s important to explain to your child that even though God promises to bring good out of all things for the faithful, that doesn’t mean the faithful will be exempt from suffering.
Jesus Christ Himself suffered and faced tribulations. Yet He left us with this emboldening message: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
3. Children reflect the splendor of God the Creator. The Bible tells us plainly that all of Scripture can be summed up into two commands: love God and love each other (Matthew 22:34-40). The Bible also tells us plainly that every child is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
Since God is love (1 John 4:8) and our children are made in His image, we have the great honor of being stewards of God’s creation in parenting our children. We can best carry out our duties as stewards by raising our kids to know the Word, and also by modeling to our children “what is good,” namely: to act justly, to love mercy, and to be humble” (Micah 6:8).
We can show our children what justice looks like by gently restoring our children when they sin. We can also teach children what appropriate boundaries and love of neighbor look like when we let our kids witness us gently restoring our neighbors when we know our neighbors to be sinning (Galatians 6:9-10).
We can show our children mercy by comforting them in difficult times (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We can further demonstrate compassion to our kids by accompanying our neighbor in times of mourning and in times of celebration alike (Romans 12:15).
We can teach our children humility by forgiving them, others, and ourselves often (Ephesians 4:32). This humility is taken to even greater heights when we humble ourselves in praying for our enemies (Luke 6:35).
What Does This Mean?
God tells us that children are a precious gift from Him, made in His image. As such, God wants His gifts to be valued and cared for in His name. As parents, we are our children’s stewards during their earthly life.
To raise our children as God expects us to requires our dedication, a strong adherence to God’s instruction, and a healthy dose of patience. In serving as our children’s stewards, it’s our responsibility to impress God’s Word upon our children so that they may know Him, live by His commands, and teach others about Him for generations to come.
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Dolores Smyth is a nationally published faith and parenting writer. She draws inspiration for her writing from everyday life. Connect with her over Twitter @byDoloresSmyth.