But as for you, continue in what you have learned
and have become convinced of,
because you know those from whom you learned it,
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 3:15-16
This encouragement offered by Paul to Timothy strikes a chord deep in my heart…
Oh, how I long for my children to keep learning about our God, and then to continue in what they have learned into and throughout their adult lives!
And if I’m not careful, I can long for this so much that it becomes something I obsess about. Worry over. Grow anxious about.
Because what if they rebel? What if they reject God as they grow older? What will that look like? What will the consequences be?
And what if it’s my fault?
Thankfully, this passage offers some wise counsel for parents who share my longing…
The first is that we should teach God’s Word faithfully to our children. Paul states that Timothy has known the Scriptures since he was a young boy. This couldn’t have happened without intentional teaching, presumably from his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).
You may be familiar with God’s command to parents in Deuteronomy 6, in which He instructs parents to teach His commands diligently to their children:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
This is a passage many Christian parents know fairly well. Perhaps you even know it by heart. It has been the topic of numerous sermons, books, and Bible studies.
But here’s the big question…are we doing it?
Do we make God’s Word a priority in our homes? Do our kids see us reading the Bible? Do we read the Bible to them? Do we encourage our older children to read it for themselves? Do we memorize it with them? Do we turn to it frequently when questions arise?Or are we instead leaving these crucial tasks to Sunday School teachers, AWANA workers, Christian school teachers, youth leaders, and pastors? All of these wonderful people play important roles in a child’s upbringing, but they should be supporting roles, secondary to the primary role God gives to parents.
The second important point is that Christian parents should live our faith convincingly. Paul reminds Timothy that he hasn’t only learned about God’s Word. He has become convinced of it for himself.
You see, learning about God’s Word will only take a person so far. We can ensure that our children learn God’s Word as long as they’re under our authority, but at some point they will examine the Christian faith and either be convinced or unconvinced of its precepts.
I find it interesting that Paul tells us how Timothy became convinced of the truth: because he knew those from whom he learned it. It seems Timothy’s mother and grandmother possessed a genuine faith that was proven by their godly lives; their teaching matched by their way of life convinced Timothy of the truth.
So how do we live convincingly? By allowing our children to see that our relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ makes a difference. If they don’t see our faith making a difference in us, they may miss out on the difference it can make in them. What God has to say in His Word should make a difference in our relationships, in our words, in our actions, in our attitudes, in our service, in our love, in our free time, in our employment, in our finances, in our choices, in our entertainment…in everything.
But before we break under the burden of such great responsibility, I’d like to close with sharing what we’re not responsible for. Because godly parenting is never ever, no never, about beating ourselves up for our children’s poor choices.
Paul exhorts the young man Timothy here to continue in what he has learned. That means it’s his choice. Not his mother’s. Or grandmother’s. They have done their part by teaching him the Scriptures and living their faith convincingly. The choice to continue is his alone.
Dear fellow mama, there is no magic formula to raising children who become godly adults. Even if you have taught God’s Word to your children and lived your faith convincingly, they may choose to not continue in it. I’ve seen a great many of these sons and daughters come back to the faith eventually, so there is always hope that a wayward child will find his way back to our ever-pursuing, always-loving God.
I find great comfort in the assurance that God will be pleased with and honored by my parenting if, by His grace, I teach God’s Word faithfully and live my faith convincingly. The rest is up to His grace in the life of my child and my child’s response to it.
And that’s why the third priority for me as a mom is to pray fervently. Not because of fear about their future. Not because I’m worried about choices they’ll make.
I pray because I trust in the character of our God who loves my children even more than I do, and because I am confident that He will hear and will answer.
And that’s when my fear of the “what-ifs” are completely obscured by my faith in I AM (Exodus 3:14).