I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 4
Whether this scripture verse describes our physical or spiritual children, many of us can understand the absolute joy that follows when we see our loved ones walking with the Lord. It is a real privilege and God is kind to give us this kind of fruit. This is my greatest desire as a mom--that our four children would grow in holiness and have hearts like God's own heart. As a women's ministries leader, this is also my desire--that I would see women grow in Christ and deepen in faith and love for Him.
There's an in-between place, though, it seems, where God is at work, but we can't see it with our natural eyes. We must trust and grow in faith that God is drawing people toward Him and maturing them through His Holy Spirit. With my children, it can be difficult to maneuver this unknown territory well. Instead of calmly moving forward in peaceful faith, I default to fearful worry with the propensity to set up rules and fences to control the situations. As you can imagine, that is not received well. My lack of trust (in God) demonstrates a lack of trust in His work in my children...and they can sense that clearly.
If you are like me and desire for your children--or others in your care--to walk in God's truth, we must receive the challenge to pursue their hearts for holiness. I share this with you not because I've accomplished this beautifully, but because I'm in the trenches and know the fight. The only way we can pursue hearts and holiness is by abiding in Christ and depending completely upon Him and His mighty work.
I have some concerns for children growing up in godly homes. You may think that sounds funny--I mean what is there to worry about? These children are hearing the Word of God, regularly attending church, perhaps they are even sheltered from worldly influences in many ways. But, children growing up in Christian homes may be prone to spiritual nearsightedness or blindness to their sins. They may fall into the category of thinking they're not as bad as 'those other people' who blatantly sin. If we fall comfortably into comparing (and, subsequently judging) ourselves with others, our kids will almost inevitably not see their own sins. And, in our Christian circles, how easy is it to comfortably fall into our familiar sins and overlook those little things? Christian sisters slipping into gossip because we know we love the Lord and we can ignore a little juicy morsel here and there. Or, Christian teens using 'marginal swear words' because they're not as bad as the real thing or drinking to excess because we all know we're Christians anyway. What about our Christian brothers who flippently share coarse jokes with one another? The little sins that are acceptable are disregarded because we're not doing the big, bad things, right? And yet, I keep thinking about how our lax examples are allowing for greater sins to become acceptable in the next generation of our Christian families.
We must ourselves pursue holiness seriously as we raise up the next generation and/or mentor younger Believers in the faith.
We must surrender making our kids or others abide by rules that merely show outward conformation and do not encourage inward transformation.
We must trust God as He is at work in us and in others.
Only through a complete preoccupation with Jesus can my heart be settled and peace-filled so that I can then pursue my children's hearts for holiness' sake. In this will come a greater trust in the Lord's work during that in-between land where the fruit is not always evident or consistent. And when we trust the Lord, and no longer ourselves, then we can love our children and others with a heart that believes God is at work for our good.
In our diligence to call sin sin,
in our desire to love God and others deeply,
and in our compulsion to no longer live for ourselves, but in obedience to the Lord...
In this will we see younger Believers vibrantly growing in holiness.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2: 12-16