Like many Christian moms, few things keep me up at night more than the salvation of my children. I often wonder, though they are still young, will they trust Christ? Will they reject Him or follow Him? Only God knows the answers to my deep questions, but I regularly feel a burden in my soul to do all that I can to help them see Christ as supremely valuable.
I know I'm not alone. There are countless books, seminars, blog posts, and sermons devoted to the evangelization of our children. Parents who love Jesus desperately want their children to love Him, too. The prospect of them living their lives apart from His saving grace is often more than we can bear. So we study, strategize, catechize, and implement methods that we hope will implant deep truths into their hearts that will one day bear fruit.
Starting Closer to Home
These are all good things. In fact, they are excellent methods. We often need the practical helps to give us a way forward with our kids. But I have grown convicted that our preparation for teaching our children about Jesus might actually need to start much closer to home.
Deuteronomy 6:7–9 is a familiar passage. You may even have it hanging somewhere in your home. Maybe you have memorized it. It is perhaps one of the most popular passages on parenting in the Bible (our guidebook, right?). We are to teach God's Word to our children and make it a focal point of our homes.
As Moses was preparing the people of Israel to enter the Promised Land, he presented God's purposes for them. God's people were to be different. They were to delight in Him alone. They were to know Him through His Word and take Him at His Word. And they were to pass all of this on to their children. The knowledge of God was never meant to stay with them. It was made to spread.
But what does Moses say to the Israelites about their own hearts toward God? He has the same command for them. Just a verse before his command regarding their children, he gives them a sweeping word:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart (vv. 5–6, emphasis added).
Yes, they were to teach their children about the wonders of God, but it was to be an overflow of their own love for Him. The only way they could consistently teach the depths of His character, goodness, and love to their children in every moment of the day was if their own hearts were stirred to love these very things.
We Must Love Him First
We talk about what we treasure, don't we? Jesus says that where our treasure is our heart will be also (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34). If we are excited about a remodeled bathroom, new shoes, a successful workout, or the book we just read, it will be the topic of our conversation. It doesn't mean we never talk about the daily realities of life (like what we bought at the store, the television show we have enjoyed, or even the presents we have received). It is simply an exhortation to ponder what fills our conversations.
We will never adequately talk about God and His goodness to our children, or anyone for that matter, because He is infinite. We could never exhaust the riches of His character. And we will always struggle in a battle of our affections because we are finite and fallen. But we should be moving in the direction where we treasure Christ more and the world less. Our children should be witnesses to this glorious transformation.
About a month ago I finished a book called Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness. In the book, the author talks about the influence John Newton's mother had on him. Though she died while he was young, her legacy stayed with him. While it took many years for the fruit of her ministry to blossom and grow, Newton viewed her faithfulness to teach him of Jesus as the seed God used to grow into saving faith. As I read his testimony, through tears, I prayed, "Lord, let that be my legacy with my boys."
Because of my own tendencies toward lists, I immediately began thinking of practical ways I could make Jesus look great to my sons. But as I stopped to think about my practical examples, I was struck by the idea that Newton's mother probably didn't have the myriad of resources we have at our fingertips today, yet she faithfully taught him about the beauty of Christ from an early age. Christ's glory radiated from her, and that glimpse never left Newton's mind.
No amount of intentionality will bear any lasting fruit in my life (or my kids' lives) if it is not the overflow of a heart fixated on the wonder of Christ. So what I really need is not another list of how to teach my children about Jesus (though lists have their place), but to sit at the feet of my Savior and drink deeply of His goodness through His Word.
Teaching my children to treasure Jesus begins with the woman in the mirror. I will talk about what I treasure. And that is what I want my children to see and hear in me—a woman who treasures Jesus above all. May it be true for all of our lives.
How about your heart? Have you been failing to treasure Jesus, even as you teach your children about Him?