When our children are grown up and on their own, studying, working, or living in a spiritually hostile climate, what choices will they make? If Christianity is merely cultural for our children and not a conviction, they will adapt the value systems of the environments they are in and be easily influenced by the people around them.
I grew up in a Christian home. However, I struggled with identity issues and often looked to people for my sense of self-worth. As a result, I compromised in different areas in order to fit in to the culture I was exposed to. Thankfully, I had a storehouse of truth to draw from. The Holy Spirit used family bible studies from my childhood, as well as my personal readings and memorization of Scripture to convict me. In my early twenties, I finally asked myself, “If I claim to be a follower of Jesus, am I really living like one? Am I glorifying Him?”
Since I couldn’t answer yes to these questions definitively, I made choices to change the direction I was headed in. This meant avoiding environments and circumstances that made me vulnerable to sin. I had to come to a point where I chose to follow Christ not because I grew up in a Christian home or because I went to church, but because He was indeed the Lord and Savior of my life.
Similarly, our children are on their own faith journeys. We can’t anticipate all the difficult decisions they will encounter. However, we can do our best to pray for them, equip them with the Word of God, as well as patiently answer their faith questions when they wrestle with their doubts.
It is truth planted deep into their hearts that will bear fruit. It is truth that will safeguard their minds from the lies of the evil one. “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
However, truth alone is not enough. Our kids have to fear and love of God above all else, and they have to make up their mind to please and obey Him. This is what it means to have conviction, not just cultural Christianity or religion.
In the Bible, we read about Samson as a Nazarene by culture but not by conviction. Although he grew up in a home where he learned about God, where he was consecrated for the Lord’s work, external acts of letting his hair grow long and avoiding alcohol did not penetrate his heart. He loved other things above God, especially women. As a result, he was entrapped by Delilah, who seduced and pestered him into giving up the secret of his strength. Samson could’ve been so much more and done so much more for the Lord had he internalized what it meant to be set apart for Him.
In contrast, Daniel, was a man of conviction. Even though he exiled from his homeland and brought to another culture, immersed in the ways of Babylon, his convictions didn’t change. He desired to honor God and follow Him.
We read in Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the kind’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” Daniel served in key positions during the reign of several Medo-Persian rulers such as Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. God blessed Daniel with a mind to interpret dreams and prophesy, and he experienced amazing miracles like surviving in a den of lions. He was highly respected by the rulers that he served for his integrity and wisdom.
Let us pray for our kids to be Daniels in this world!
Here are some examples of convictions we can teach our kids to internalize:
Guard my eyes: “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes…” Psalm 101:3
Fill my mind with what is good: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Be careful with my words: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
Glorify God with my body: “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
Pursue purity: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
Choose friends wisely: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Be disciplined with your time: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Develop a love for God’s Word:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
Do I see convincing evidence in the lives of my children that their relationship with God is authentic and personal and not just cultural Christianity?
What are some convictions we need to develop and pursue together as a family?