Our culture is very concerned with the constant promotion of self. Left and right, people are asking,
“Who am I?”
In the midst of this crazy, sin-ridden, mixed-up world, where should we be directing our children to find their identity? Where should we be deriving our identity?
Many people like to use “encouraging” sayings such as, “I got this”, “Believe in yourself”, “You’re enough”, “Follow your heart”, and I could go on and on. We think of those as “neutral” sayings…but they’re actually not. They’re humanistic in nature and promote the so-called “strength” of human beings.
We have to realize, though, that without God, we are nothing…our existence is owed completely to Him.
Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…” God is the Creator of life and, therefore, He deserves all of the glory, and honor, and praise.
So, how does this apply to our children’s identity?
This thought is most definitely counter-cultural, but I encourage you to hang with me while we walk through this. 🙂 While I definitely believe in encouraging our children, I’m of the opinion that by using phrases such as “Today is your day”, “Believe in yourself”, “Nothing can stop you now”, etc., we’re, ultimately, instilling the thought in our children’s minds that they are enough in and of themselves.
But the truth is…they’re not!
If we raise them on these kinds of thoughts, though, and they think they’re absolutely wonderful and that through their own willpower and strength they can do anything they set their mind to, how much more challenging could it be for them to rightly understand salvation?
I once read the following quote, and I think it fits perfectly here. I’d like to share it with you, and I encourage you to really think about what it says:
“The Gospel sounds very strange to a generation that has been told they are perfect, loving themselves is virtuous, their heart is always right, and nothing is more important than being happy.”
Now, think about that and then compare it to what the Bible says about each of us being sinners, worthy of absolutely nothing but hell, who can only be saved by admitting the fact that we’re wrong and do sinful things, and by humbly accepting the atonement of Christ’s blood on Calvary.
Every single person has to see that they are not good, and they cannot save themself. We are completely dependent on the sacrifice of Jesus! The Gospel goes completely against what the world (and, therefore, the devil) continually pushes on all of us each and every day.
If our children think they’re “all that” and then they hear they’re a sinner worthy of nothing but eternity in hell, will they be able to see their sin and need for a Savior (Jesus) when they’ve constantly been told “they’re enough”? Will they recognize their need to believe in the atonement of Christ’s blood when they’ve constantly been told to “believe in themselves”?
What if we were to lovingly point our children to their depravity and need for the Lord from the time they’re small? Now, you might think that’s unloving, but I want us to think through this. Why do we discipline our children? Is it because we wake up every day and think that we “really hope little Johnny does something wrong today because we cannot wait to discipline him”, or do we punish our children because we love them and know that while the discipline will be unpleasant, it will be good for them in the long run, because they will have learned a lesson that should last a lifetime? Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Just as we see the potential for good fruit that is borne from punishment, we also need to see the potential for good fruit that comes from pointing our children to their sinfulness and need for a Savior!
Perhaps one of the most impactful things we can do for our children is teaching them the importance of asking God to help them shift their focus onto Him, where it belongs, and off of themselves. Alistair Begg has said, “Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” In other words, don’t look at yourself and try to build yourself up. Look at Christ and find your everything in Him!