by Jeff Ware, Student Life Pastor
"I HAVE NO GREATER JOY THAN TO HEAR THAT MY CHILDREN ARE WALKING IN THE TRUTH."
The short little New Testament book we know as Third John was a letter from the apostle John to a man named Gaius, who was a member of one of John's churches. In the opening paragraph of the letter, John shares his joy at the report he's received regarding Gaius and the spiritual growth that was taking place in his life. He was pleased that Gaius was embracing and living the truth. While Gaius was not a biological child to John, he was a spiritual child to John. This is why John wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (v.4).
I don't know about you, but I can agree with that. I want nothing more as a parent than for my little girl to walk in the truth. As a student pastor, I want YOUR kid to be walking in the truth as well. Our highest and most noble calling as Christian parents is this: to lead our children into knowing and following Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important. Not grades, accolades, athletic achievements, social media followers, size of bank account - nothing! All those things will come and go, but the Kingdom of God is eternal. Therefore, our greatest parental joy must be like that of John's. So, how can we nurture our children as John nurtured Gaius?
First, we must be sure that our children are seeing and hearing the truth. As their primary teachers, we must make sure that we are doing as Proverbs 22 says and "train[ing] up [our] child in the way they should go" and modeling that for them in our own lives; if they don't see us doing it, they will not want to do it either. Not only that, but it is paramount that our children sit under good teaching elsewhere too. That means this; Get them in church! "It takes a village," right? Let your child get godly wisdom from the awesome leaders we have serving in our kid's and student ministries. Bring them into corporate worship with the family when they are old enough. Let them get as much of Jesus as they can from all the great resources available.
Second, we need to pray with our children and teach them to pray as well. It doesn't matter if we think we are not good at praying; just start talking to our Father. If we believe in the power of prayer, we must teach it to our children. Hebrews 4:16 says, "with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." We must lead them to the throne room of our holy God. Teaching them that Jesus hears our prayers and takes them to the Father on our behalf. We have direct access to the King of Kings. Let's not take it for granted.
And third, we want to equip them to apply the faith to their everyday-all-the-time behavior. Creed and conduct need to be in alignment. Living our faith is not something that is only confined to the four walls of the church. Instead, it's an everyday, outward expression of our love for God and what He is doing in our life. An easy passage to teach your kids about living for Jesus can be found in Galatians 4:22-26, and we call this the "fruits of the Sprit". Teach your child that as Christians, we've been given the gift of the Holy Spirit that not only helps us combat sin, but also helps us live out our faith in a way that honors Jesus! Read this passage with your children and challenge yourself and them to memorize these fruits. As you go about your day, think about which fruit you need to work on and how you can demonstrate it in your life. Let these fruits be your guide.