I have no idea whether my sons will grow up to be pastors, doctors, teachers, athletes, musicians, politicians or laborers. But the one thing I do know with certainty as a Christian parent is that my children will stand before God some day. With appropriate reverence, I understand that they will either stand before their Father in Heaven having believed in Jesus or not. Eternity awaits every single one of our children – that I know.
In 1888, J.C. Ryle, the English writer, pastor, and father of five, wrote a sermon called “The Duties of Parents.” It was a 17 point sermon on Proverbs 22:6. These were his closing words to his church that day:
“Train well for this life, and train well for the life to come; train well for earth, and train well for heaven; train them for God, train them for Christ, and train them for eternity. Amen.”
Though this sermon (and now book) has many great biblical insights, encouragements, and reminders, there is one phrase that has both stuck out to, and stuck with me. It is the phrase, “train them for eternity.” To put it simply, Ryle is reminding Christians to parent their children for what really matters. In a culture where the opportunities (some of which are good) are endless, it is easy, if not tempting, to lose sight of eternity.
As parents, our most prized priority must be to diligently and graciously train our children to grow up to love God and love the world. One of the greatest joys we have as parents is to teach, guide, warn, model, and encourage our children from the Bible. The Apostle Paul makes an interesting comment regarding Timothy’s training as a child. Notice what he says in 2 Timothy 3:14-15:
“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.”
Paul suggests that Timothy, from a very young age, was being taught the Bible. The fertile soil of Timothy’s heart was being plowed and prepared by a parent who was pursuing eternity.
The following are simple and practical ways to help show your son(s) that you are living with eternity in mind:
- Spend meaningful time with your son(s) talking about spiritual things
- Share with your family what God is teaching you
- Pray for and with your son(s)
- Lead family devotions
- Let your son(s) see you reading God’s Word, praying, or sharing your faith
- Let your son(s) see you serve by using your gifts in your local church
- Give generously and sacrificially to God’s kingdom – For example, give to missions, your church, a family or individual in need, etc.
Today I want to remind you that you also can be that kind of father: a father who is living with one eye on this life, and the other eye on the life that is to come. It is by God’s grace that any of our children come to faith in Jesus, but we must not forget that God has also uniquely chosen parents to help pass along faith to the next generation.
Patrick Schwenk, The Dig for Kids