I never realized how truly selfish I was until I got married. It was an adjustment having to think about another person’s feelings, needs, and desires that were not my own. Before I knew it I had my first baby and that was an even greater adjustment. The baby screamed, wouldn’t sleep, and I was up all hours of the night. I fed him, changed his diaper, burped, and cuddled him. Nothing seemed to work. He still would not go back to bed. This little baby boy depended on me for his every need. I didn’t eat, shower, or sleep unless the baby was satisfied. Thankfully, I had my husband to help me when he was home. Nonetheless, I found myself longing for a break. I tried to get by until the next nap so I could be alone. I was tired of serving my husband and child, I wanted to serve myself. Through this God showed me how selfish I truly was, and how selfish I still can be. Not only this, but God also showed me my tremendous need for him. When the baby would not sleep and nothing I did would help him, I would cry out to God for help. “Please God help him to sleep.” When my baby was sick I would plea, “Please God help his fever go away.” When I was exhausted or just at a loss, Christ became my refuge.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”Psalm 46:1
God shows us how much we need him when we are short on sleep and patience. We have to rely on Christ for everything. Christ becomes the stable refuge to which we can run and never be disappointed. Through this we see that God uses our children as a means of grace to sanctify us. Not only are we sanctified through child-rearing, we also are reminded of God’s tremendous patience and love for us. When our children grow and start to disobey, we see this even more clearly. Every time our children relentlessly fight us in disobedience we see ourselves in how we have treated Christ. God reminds us of Romans 5:8:
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Every time our child disobeys, we understand at a deeper level how patient God has been with us, withholding his wrath that we certainly deserve. As we see this, our hearts are motivated towards patience with our own children. When our children sin, we are encouraged to tell them to run to Christ and receive forgiveness and mercy as we have. Their disobedience allows us the opportunity to share the forgiveness God offers through Christ. We get to plead with them to flee to Jesus, and bring their sin into the light.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”1 John 1: 7-10
When we encourage our children to live out this verse, we are reminded of our need to daily repent of our own sin and need for Christ’s forgiveness.
Our children can serve a great purpose in reminding us of God’s love and forgiveness. But how should a Christian respond to children when our society sees children as a burden, an unwanted inconvenience? What does the Bible say about children, in particular, to women? The Bible says that women are saved through childbearing:
“Yet she (women) will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”1 Timothy 2:15
This verse is not saying women receive salvation by childbearing. We know the scriptures clearly say a person is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans3:19-22, Ephesians 2:8, 9). What Paul is saying however, is that although sin entered the world through Eve (the woman), women have a unique opportunity to remove that stigma by raising godly children. John Macarthur says in his commentary of this verse, “Because mothers have a unique bond and intimacy with their children, and spend far more time with them than do fathers, they have a greater influence in their lives and thus a unique responsibility and opportunity for rearing godly children, While a woman may have led the human race into sin, women have the privilege of leading many out of sin to godliness. Paul is speaking in general terms; God does not want all women to be married, let alone have children.” As Christian parents and moms, we must remember to see our children as our great opportunities. We understand that bringing up our children in the way of the Lord does not guarantee their salvation. Our job is to be obedient and leave the results to Him. We daily hold our children to the Biblical standard with the hope that one day God will use us as a means of grace to lead them to repentance. Now of course we know we do not do this perfectly. However, we continue to be obedient to God knowing full well he grows the crop:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Our hope is this, that our children will one day take what we’ve taught them from the Scriptures and boldly proclaim it to the world.
So how can we practically raise our children?
First, we pray earnestly that God would first convict their heart of sin, leading them to repentance and trust in Christ.
Second, ask God to help us raise them into godly men and women who can go into the world and be a light for Christ.
Third, we emulate Christ to them through our example of humility, repentance, and grace.
By doing these things, we can see our children not as a burden but as a great privilege and joy.
Rachel is a wife and mother of four young children. She has a love for listening to expository preaching, theology, and doctrine. She desires to make Christ known through her marriage, parenting, and in every word and deed.