Being a Christian parent means learning to be creative about preaching the gospel. You’ll need to. Every single day, you’ll have what seems like a thousand chances (read: moments of desperation) where you know that you can’t change your own heart and you certainly can’t change theirs. They need more grace than you could ever give, and you need more mercy than you could ever hope to scrounge up.
You see, the funny thing about parenting is that you come face to face with sin—theirs and yours. And sometimes it can seem like a battle royal, raging right in the midst of snatching and screaming and whining. But according to a trending article by Andrew Weiseth, a child’s sin (while never what you want) can actually provide parents with golden opportunities to teach:
“Sinful behavior in our kids is not an opportunity to war against them. It is an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. We get to rejoice that God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good (Gen. 50:20).”
1. Sinful behavior reveals our child’s bondage to sin apart from Christ
Despite what the world may say, children are certainly not innocent. They sin, and no one has to teach them how. But their sin shows them how much they need the Holy Spirit to change their hearts.
2. Sinful behavior is an opportunity to confess our own sin and ask forgiveness
When we parents sin, we can model true confession, repentance, and reconciliation. Our children need to see us practice what we preach.
3. Sinful behavior reveals that we both need Jesus
“The moment of conflict allows us to turn from standing opposed to our child to standing alongside them, leading them to the only one who can save us.”
4. Sinful behavior reveals that all punishment is done
“Do we administer consequences? Yes. But it is unjust for the punishment to go both on Jesus and another (Rom. 8:1).”
5. Sinful behavior is an opportunity to pray with our kids
Although parenting has its challenging moments, such difficulties allow us the chance to show our children what it means to seek God. What Satan meant to destroy the family can be turned into an opportunity for Christ to be exalted.
In a recent post on this site, Randy Newman, a parent himself, realized how important the gospel is to parenting. Although he often found himself using the phrase, “I did the best I could,” Newman suddenly understood how inadequate that is:
“And then it hit me. I did not do the best job I could as a parent. I wonder if anyone can ever use that line. By God’s grace, I did a lot of good things. But I did quite a few bad things as well. I did harmful and insulting things. I said words that I wish I could erase from my sons’ memories. On occasion, I treated them harshly when they most needed tenderness. I won’t even diminish the intensity of these acts by calling them “mistakes.” They were sins. I sinned against my sons and the God who blessed me with them. I am humbled beyond measure that they and God forgive me. No wonder Jesus died on a cross. Nothing less could atone for such behavior….
“But our God is a gracious savior whose shed blood covers all our sins, including the ones we committed in the privacy of our homes – perhaps, especially the sins we commit there. To God be the glory – He did the best He could.”
What about you? How have you found ways to share the gospel as a parent (or how did your parents share it with you)? What advice do you have for parents?
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).