By Michelle Treacy, Crosswalk.com
If you have read my bio, you will already know that I am a mother. I have three children, aged 12, 10, and 4. Life in our home is often fun and exciting. But, at times, it can also be frustrating and irritating.
Why the contrast? Simply because five humans in one home with very different personalities (and sometimes similar) leave us laughing until we cry or being so frustrated, we feel like screaming.
Being a parent is the most rewarding and difficult job I have set my mind to. I will be honest here from the get-go and tell you that despite my 12 years of being a mother to my incredible kids, I am still not completely equipped to open this idea fully.
My kids still argue that I am still attempting to get them to see the importance of tidying rooms or cleaning dishes. However, I am winning the battle in the love of baking/cooking and the joy in a good joke or movie.
But bear with me, and let me share with you my experience and understanding of Scripture.
Thankfully despite our failings, Scripture is full of stories around parenting and people we can learn from. As God is Father God, it makes it much easier to glean from the Bible, the type of parent He would want us to be.
I know we could easily look at verses like the commandments, which say, “Children should honor their parents” (Exodus 20:12). But that is a whole other article probably titled “What Does the Bible Say about Being a Good Child.” Today our focus is solely on the parent.
At the beginning of Scripture, in Genesis, we see the design for family. After all the other elements were brought to life, the sky, the land, the fish, the animals, the trees, and everything was in place, God creates Adam.
So that Adam has the best helper to assist him, God creates Eve. After creating a perfect environment and humans in the image of God, he declares,
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).
The first humans were to add to their number with children. They were to fill the earth and then rule over the animals.
Unfortunately, we never get to see Adam and Eve parent in Eden as the Fall happens in Genesis 3, and due to that sin, they are removed from the Garden of Eden. Everyone thereafter is born into sin.
How Does God See Parenting?
Timothy is one of the most well-known characters found in the New Testament. His travels with Paul and the letters received are a window into his life.
2 Timothy 1:5 says: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Here Paul is thanking God for Timothy, but he is acknowledging that Timothy’s faith is generational. His grandmother, Lois, first believed that belief was seen and then lived out in Eunice, his mother, and passed down to Timothy, who also chooses to believe.
Isn’t it a marvelous thought that we, as parents, can influence our own children with the gospel and even our grandchildren — that our prayers do not stop with impacting our families in one generation, but they can carry from one to the next?
We never know more of Lois and Eunice; we only know that sincere faith lived within them. Maybe that is the vital key to parenting before God.
We are not people who only preach the gospel to our children, but we are a people who are saturated in sincere faith and live that out before them.
I believe that faith looks like praying, reading the Bible, declaring God’s goodness even in hard times, and trusting God to make all things good in his time. Parenting is a role that is saturated in responsibility. We see that from Lois and Eunice.
Hannah is another beautiful example of a parent. She was a barren woman, and so she went to the temple, and she prayed a fervent prayer. 1 Samuel 1:15 tell us the most beautiful words she speaks to Eli: “I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”
These prayers, this pouring out of her soul, were answered, and God granted her desire to have a child. Hannah weaned the boy and gave him back to God to serve in the temple (1 Samuel 1). We now know that the little boy was the great Prophet Samuel who served the Lord diligently.
I am not suggesting we take our children to church to serve full-time as Hannah did. But what if we were to live our lives in the knowledge that they are not our children, they are firstly God’s? What if we were to hand them back to God every day in prayer?
Teaching them as Eunice and Lois did and trusting the outcome of their lives to God the Father.
Friend, what if we were a people who do not get caught up in the worries that can weigh us down but casting all our cares for that child upon God (1 Peter 5:7) and believing in faith that He will answer us just as Hannah did?
What Is a Parent’s Purpose?
Parenting reminds us that our focus is to do what God asks of us no matter what. We see that lived out in the life of Abraham. God promises Abraham, a son in Genesis 18. But it is Genesis 21 before we see the birth of Isaac.
By this time, Abraham had already added to his family with a Hebrew concubine named Hagar and had a son called Ishmael, adding heavily to his family problems.
The promised son is finally born, and when Isaac is around 12 years of age, God speaks to Abraham and says: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).
God is clear here on what he expects, but what surprised me about Abraham is that the next words we read in Scripture say: “So Abraham rose early the next morning” (v. 3), and he goes to prepare for the sacrifice.
We are likely never to be asked to sacrifice our children on a burnt offering. God despises such offerings calling it an “abomination” (Deuteronomy 12:31), but we can learn from this.
Abraham learned the hard way that skipping waiting on God and planning your own life with your children is a bad idea.
We learn from Abraham that if God makes us a promise for our children, no matter how long we need to wait for it to flourish, it will happen, He is a faithful God, and we can trust Him with our little ones.
But we also see a level of faith that is unrivaled. Abraham learned to live in faith and to live it out.
Parenting is hard work, but when we rest in God and have faith in Him, it makes it easier because we know we are not parenting on our own, but God is with us and supporting us, and He will supply our needs as He is Jehovah Jireh.
Parenting has a beautiful way of reminding us of how much grace we have received from Christ and how much we should be willing to pour that same grace out on our children. King David led an incredible life. But he failed in many places.
One of those was his poor handling of his children. In 1 Samuel 13-19, we see his family fall apart. One son kills another due to a major family conflict, and the result is a civil war of sorts. David avoided conflict between his sons, and as all wounds do when left untreated, it festered.
What Does This Mean?
Friend, we can learn here from David that as parents, we must teach, pray, sacrifice, and follow God, but we must also be available for our children.
We must be people who discipline appropriately, judge and discern correctly and deal with matters as they arise, leaving nothing to fester.
God tells us that “He disciplines those He loves” (Hebrews 12:6), and we can live that out in our lives also by disciplining the children we love so deeply and ensuring we bring them up in a way that allows for reproach and edification.
I do hope these words have been helpful or you as you assess what godly parenting looks like. The Bible is littered with further examples if you would like to read more.
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Michelle Treacy is a Christian writer, a wife to Gerald, and a busy mother of three, Emily, Ava Rose, and Matthew. Finding time to write is not always easy. However, Michelle’s desire to write about Jesus, and passion to teach is what motivates her. Michelle writes on Instagram Michelle_Treacy_ and for CrimsonSeasCA. Also, on WordPress at Thoughts From My Bible. If you meet her in person, you will likely find her with two things in hand, a good Christian book, and a cup of tea!