"The Same Image"
Child-rearing involves the loving determination by parents to view their own needs and desires as secondary to the needs of their sons and daughters. In a consistent and growing manner, children must see unselfishness in their parents. They must know that their father and mother would sacrifice themselves in the ultimate sense. They must also see smaller sacrifices made over and over as the expression of genuine love in the parents' hearts.
"The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (II Corinthians 12:14).
This principle and practice will be expressed in thousands of ways, and in countless specific moments that confirm the parental heart of self sacrifice. More importantly, however, the demeanor and attitude of fathers and mothers must clearly reveal their devotion to the child's well being. Young people see through to the reality of their parents' devotion, or the lack thereof. This goes far in determining the course of children's lives, including their character, disposition, relationship to God and to people. No guarantees exist, of course. Loving parenting does not assure that children will follow in the faithful footsteps of father and mother. As children mature into adolescence and adulthood, they must make their own choices and determinations. However, genuinely unselfish parents greatly influence the paths of their children, particularly regarding Christians, whose purpose involves reflecting the character and nature of our Heavenly Father.
This raises another even more important issue, namely, God's unselfish parenting that leads to faithful sons and daughters in Christ. The fact of His altruistic nature is a uncertainty - "God is love… Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (I John 4:8; I Corinthians 13:5). Our Heavenly Father always acts in the best interests of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and the sons and daughters united to Him by faith. Our understanding and awareness of God's devotion, however, may not rest so assuredly in our hearts. We must grow in such knowledge because to the degree we know the reality of our Father's loving character and nature, we will more and more reflect it. The Apostle Paul states this in no uncertain terms in his second epistle to the Corinthians:
"Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
By definition, believers "live by faith" (Romans 1:17). As we trust our Lord, His Spirit moves within us to motivate a life of faithfulness. Thus, we must possess knowledge of God's loving character because we trust a person in accordance with our confidence in their faithfulness. Growth in the awareness of our Heavenly Father's loving and unselfish devotion to us results in faith and "the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26). Thus, the aforementioned truth regarding unselfish human parents inspiring children to a reciprocal life reflects the even greater reality of our Father's character reproduced in us. As we increasingly discover His sublime nature of love, the old saying applies, "like father, like son", that is, sons and daughters in Christ who think, speak, act, and relate like their Father.
"We love Him because He first loved us."
(I John 4:19)
Weekly Memory Verse
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.