Today's devotional is adapted from my brand-new book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.
Notice the title of the book. These are gospel principles. Just because I'm applying it to parenting doesn't mean it only has relevance for moms and dads, but for every situation, location, and relationship in the Christian life.
If I were to ask you what the best, most practical, most helpful parenting passage in all the Bible was, what would you answer?
Most biblically literate Christian parents would run to Ephesians 6:1–4: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (ESV)
Those are wonderfully helpful verses, but there's another passage that's almost never mentioned in the context of parenting. These words, straight from the mouth of the Messiah, contain everything you need to know and understand in order to experience the rest and courage of heart that fuels good, godly, perseverant parenting.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Great Commission? Yes! I cannot think of any directive more appropriate to every Christian parent than this one. Here's why:
Your job as a Christian parent is to do everything within your power, as an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer who has employed you, to woo, encourage, call, and train your children to willingly and joyfully live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This calling is more important than how they do in school, or how positively they contribute to the reputation of your family, or how well they set themselves up for a future career, or how well they do in sports and the arts, or how well they are liked by adults and peers. These things aren't unimportant, but we must not let them rise to the importance of this one thing: discipleship.
I have to ask you: how well are you making disciples of your children?
Before you answer that, I have to say something else: the Bible confronts us with the fact that as parents, we have no power to turn our children into disciples of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you're thinking, "How am I supposed to get up every morning and do the impossible without getting exhausted and discouraged?" The rest of the Great Commission answers that question, which is why I propose it's the best parenting passage in the Bible.
"All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." These words tell you that there is never a moment, in any location, where you are in a situation with one of your children that is not under the wise, careful, and powerful control of the One who sent you into it. You can rest when you don't understand what is going on because the One who sent you is never confused and never surprised.
"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." The Father, who sends you to extend his arms of fathering grace to your children, goes with you. In every moment when you are called to give grace, you are being given grace. In every moment when you are rescuing and protecting your children, you are being rescued and protected. It is impossible for your parenting to ever wander outside the light of his presence.
Mom and dad, your hope as a parent is not found in your power, your wisdom, your character, your experience, or your success. You are not in this parenting drama alone. Your potential is greater than the size of your weaknesses, because the One who is without weakness is with you, and he does his best work through those who admit that they are weak but in weakness still heed his call.
The Great Commission summarizes your calling as parents, and its promises remind you of where you can look for help and hope!
- What are some things that have held more importance in your parenting than the Great Commission?
- How does the beginning of the Great Commission - Christ's power - give you hope for parenting? Be specific in application.
- How does the end of the Great Commission - Christ's presence - give you hope for parenting? Be specific in application.