57: Parenting 3:16
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
There are three parenting lessons you can take from the Bible’s most well-loved and well-known passage.
1. You can have eternal life.
The greatest truth you can pass on to your kids is the truth of the gospel. Parenting involves a myriad of important things to teach, but this is the most important. We can have eternal life by believing that God sent His Son to die in our place. We can’t work our way to heaven; and we can’t earn salvation. All we can do is believe.
Teach this truth to your kids and memorize Scripture with them related to this truth. Ask them questions about it to confirm their understanding.
When Keziah was about four-years-old we asked her, “What do you have to do to go to heaven?”
Without missing a beat she replied, “Die.”
While technically correct, we realized that she needed a few more explanations on eternal life. We need to make sure that all of our kids have a firm grasp on this truth.
2. God loves you.
We all want to be loved by someone. If we can’t find “someone” that loves us we will settle for “anyone.” The search for love and acceptance can have crippling effects on a child’s self-esteem if it continues unfulfilled. A parent’s love should be the first love to fill that need in a child’s life. As a child ages he or she needs to be directed toward God. “I love you and mommy loves you, but God loves you even more.”
God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place. I cannot begin to grasp how God could do that, but I do understand that He must think the world of us to allow such a thing.
As a kid I had a little button stuck to a bulletin board that hung in my room. I received it at a church carnival or some similar event and it said, “God is love! 1 John 4:16.” Over the years I looked up the verse several times and was reassured that it was really true. It’s a profound truth that is beyond our full understanding. Continually remind your children of this truth.
3. You have a life mission.
John 3:16 is the best news ever given to man. Eternal life is available for free to all who believe. There is no catch, no limits, no qualifications. It is available to “whoever”.
Our love for fellow man should stir something in us at this point. We have the secret to attaining eternal life and it is available to “whoever believes.” If I had the cure to cancer, AIDS, or even male pattern baldness I would want to share that treatment with others. My love for fellow man would demand this. Instead, I have the cure from eternal separation from God. This is news that is needed by everyone, and my love demands that I share it.
Understanding the calling on our lives to spread this message gives life purpose, and kids need purpose. “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren has sold 25 million copies and has been translated into 56 languages since it was written in 2002. It is the best selling hardback in American history according to Publisher’s Weekly. America longs for purpose. No one wants a meaningless existence. We all want to make a difference in some way. If you can pass on to your kids that their mission in life is to spread the good news of eternal life, you will give them something special that will impact every fiber of their being.
There is nothing you can give your kids more important than these three things—not good work habits, not useful skills, and not a great education. These are three foundational truths that will shape your children’s identity and value. That will impact their lives forever.