What is the most important thing we can give to our children? Without any question in my mind, the most important thing we can give our kids is a home where they have an opportunity to have faith. There is nothing that is more important to living life victoriously than to have an active, vital faith in God that we integrate into every part of our life, and to be able to pass that on to our children is the greatest gift we can give them. It is more important than an education, sports success, power, or money.
To see what happens in a family where faith is weak we can look at the family of Isaac in Genesis 24-27. Rebekah and Isaac love each other very much, but things start turning sour when the twins are born. The struggle between Esau, the oldest, and his younger twin, Jacob, dominates the life of Isaac. After Isaac chooses Esau as his favorite son, and Rebekah chooses Jacob as her favorite son the family seems to disintegrate. The tragic climax is Genesis 27 when Jacob successfully steals the blessing that Isaac planned on giving Esau, his firstborn.
There are no powerful religious experiences noted in Isaac’s life. He seems to have no moving or instructive conversations with God as Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph do. His greatest claim to fame is that he inherits all of his father’s fortune (Genesis 25:5). If you want to find out how to do everything wrong Isaac seems to be a great example of a mediocre father who raised two sons with little or no faith to speak of.
Isaac’s father, Abraham, had a life full of miracles, and an amazing faith spoken of throughout the Bible. Isaac seems to carry on the pattern of sons of faithful fathers in the Bible. They have a weak faith, dependent on the faith of their father. When it comes time to teach their children about God their witness is shallow, and so their children struggle to have any faith at all. This was certainly the case of Esau and Jacob, at least until they had experiences with God of their own. This raises a very important question for modern parents, what is my witness of faith to my children? Do I have my own witness, or do I depend on the faith of my parents? Further, how can I have a faith more like Abraham’s than Isaac’s to pass on to my kids?
First, we must model an authentic faith. That means more than avoiding hypocrisy, but that is a good start. Do you just give God lip service, or is it your desire to live out your faith? Do you work at growing closer to God? Do you go on retreats to build a stronger faith? Does your life point your children to God or do you have to tell them someone else’s stories about who God is rather than your own stories and witness?
Do you notice God’s miracles in your life? Abraham’s life was full of miracles, and I imagine he told Isaac all about them over and over again. When Esau and Jacob asked Isaac about God he didn’t have any miracles, so he probably told his dad’s stories. The boys weren’t impressed. It wasn’t that God decided not to give Isaac miracles, Isaac just didn’t want any miracles, or refused to notice all the miracles God was sending him. When we notice what God is doing in our lives we usually figure out that we must give up control to God, and many people would rather have control than God’s miracles in their life. Do you think you have any control issues with God? Most of us do!
Finally, if you want to raise kids with faith, pray for your children to have an authentic faith. I was a little late figuring this out, but when my oldest was fourteen my wife and I started praying for all our kids to receive a Biblical saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those prayers had a huge impact on them and us. We began praying those same prayers for our grandchildren the day they were born. I highly recommend praying that your children have faith. It is a key ingredient in providing a home where your children will receive the greatest gift you can give them, a home where they have the opportunity to have an authentic faith in God that affects every aspect of their lives.
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