“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).
Our “baby” is getting married in 4 more days! The young man she is marrying loves her. It’s been such a delight to watch him studying her and finding out what she loves and what will please her. He discovered her love of rainbow lollipops and hot air balloons and elephants and polka dots. So his many thoughtful gifts have included things like lollipops and elephant necklaces. He even took her to a hot air balloon festival for their engagement photos.
Because he loves her, he takes joy in doing the little things that bring her delight.
We want to please the ones we love.
I loved my father, and I knew how much he loved me. He was always doing and saying things that told me how much he loved me. Because He loved me and I loved him, I wanted to please him. I really didn’t want to do things that would hurt him or make him unhappy. My love for him motivated me to obey him, and it led me to invest my time in activities that I knew would please him.
It’s easy to start worrying about how we are doing with our kids. Are we teaching them the right stuff? Are we using the right curriculum if we’re homeschooling? Are we setting a good enough example for them? Are we helping them learn to obey? Will they keep following Jesus when they leave our homes?
There is a more important question to ask.
It’s probably the most important thing we should be thinking about as we raise our children.
Are we helping them fall in love with Jesus?
Are we leading them to the cross and helping them understand that Jesus loved them enough to die for them? Do they understand how completely helpless they are without Jesus, and that there is nothing they can do to please God in their own strength?
When we and our children come to grips with our utter helplessness and then get a glimpse of God’s love that reached down to save us, we will start to live lives of joyful, grateful obedience.
We will be able to quit trying to please God in our own strength, and rest in His grace and forgiveness.
And we will quit giving our children the impression that they simply have to obey God to please Him (and us). God requires a perfect obedience, and they will never be able to perfectly obey Him.
But Jesus did. He came down from heaven and became one of us. He did live a perfect life, and He laid down that life to die in our place.
He has satisfied God’s requirements. All our children have to do is put their faith in Christ’s work, and they become God’s children. Everything that Jesus has becomes theirs.
How can we not love a God who loves us this much? “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we start to understand that love, we will love Him in response. And when we love Him, like my future son-in-law with his bride, and like me with my daddy, we will long to please Him.
Children who love Jesus will have changed hearts. Children with changed hearts will desire to obey. “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23).
Our job is to take our children to Jesus and sit them on His lap. He loves them. They need to know that.