“Give therefore your servant an understanding heart to judge your people that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” 1 Kings 3:9-10, 12
I love this passage in the Old Testament where Solomon asked God for wisdom. His request pleased God and therefore, God saw fit to grant the request. Reading that prayer over the years has prompted me to begin this same prayer for my children as they grow up.
One of my deep desires for my children is that they would be able to discern between good and bad. We live in a world where right and wrong are defined in most cases by individuals and not by a real source of truth and authority such as the Bible. The common thread of thinking in our society today is that there is no standard of right and wrong other than each individual’s opinion.
As Christians, our standard for right and wrong should be the Bible. However, that idea is not as common as one may think in Christian circles. Research tells us that less than 10% of all believers have a Biblical worldview.
Our children need to know God’s truth is the standard by which we live and make decisions. Jesus said in John 8:32 that if “you know the truth, the truth shall make you free.” I desire for my children to know the truth so that they can be free from the lies that this world will send their way. In other words, they will be able to discern good from evil and be more likely to allow God to direct them towards His best for their life.
Parents, we need to begin praying and asking God to give our children a “wise and discerning heart” just as God did for Solomon. We all want the best things in life for our children. A wise and discerning heart would be an incredible gift for our children to have and use to guide them through life. Stop and think of all the possible hurt that our children could avoid with such a heart. Also, consider the blessing that one day they could be to their children with such a heart.
I want this kind of heart for my children so that it can be said of them, like Solomon, that “there has never been anyone like them, nor will there ever be.”
The final piece of the model that Jesus was raised by according to Luke 2:52 is that of having “favor with God.” As you recall, Luke 2:52 states that Jesus grew in “wisdom, stature, favor with man, and favor with God.” What does it mean to have favor with God?
Matthew 16:24-26 gives us a great idea of what this looks like. This passage declares: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Favor with God begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility as parents to lead our children to faith in Christ. Psalm 78 clearly tells us to pass our faith to our children. Our children need to learn and understand what it means to give your life to and follow Christ as well as the futility that Matthew 16:26 describes of chasing the things of this world, which will pass away. For our children to have favor with God, it must begin with leading them to faith in Christ.
Once we have led them to Christ, this process continues with teaching them to grow in their relationship with the Lord. As 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, we should teach them “as newborn babies, desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow.” When our children were newborn babies, we had to feed them milk so that they would grow and be able to eat more complex food later.
As new Christians, we must teach our kids to develop their relationship with God into the most intimate relationship of their lives. We must begin them at an early age learning God’s truth so that they will later be able to handle deeper spiritual truths that will help them navigate their way through the storms of life. 2 Timothy 2:15 should be our guide in the spiritual development of our children. That verse admonishes all Christians to: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
My desire for my children is that they will grow up owning their faith, growing in their relationship with God, and being a student of God’s Word. This pursuit I believe will equip them to not only be able to make the tough decisions of life according to God’s truth but also will empower them to serve others and pass their faith on to the next generation. This approach will lead them to having favor with God.
One of the four attributes mentioned in Luke 2:52 that describes the way in which Jesus was raised and grew is that He learned what it meant to have favor with man. I believe that this phrase captures the idea of our children’s social and personal growth. I am convinced that teaching our children to have favor with man is critical to their upbringing.
What does having favor with man really look like? In essence, I believe that this is best defined as teaching our children how to have successful relationships in life as defined by the Bible. If our children cannot learn to get along with others, then numerous struggles in life await them.
First of all, learning to get along with others begins with teaching our children the concept of what is called the “Golden Rule”. Matthew 7:12 tells us to “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”We live very much in a “me” generation that only looks out for itself. In order for our children to have successful relationships, we must teach them first to treat others as they would like to be treated. Further, we should teach them as Philippians 2:3 instructs “to esteem others better than yourselves.” Specifically, our children need to learn to put others first.
Next, we must teach them that not only is everything not about me but they must also learn to serve others. Learning to serve others is a Biblical command for all of us and one that we must model for our children if they are to grasp this command. Matthew 20:27 declares: “And whosever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” This verse tells us that if our children are to gain favor with man then they must learn servant leadership.
Jesus Himself was the model for this principle of servant hood by giving sacrificially through His ministry and His death. Mark 10:45 illustrates this when it states: “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Indeed, learning to have favor with man involves treating others as you would be treated, esteeming others more than yourself, and learning to serve others. Jesus grew in these traits and modeled these traits and leaves for us as parents today this model for instilling these traits in our children.
As parents, we all desire that our children gain favor with man so that they might be successful in life. I pray that in my own life that I might model for my children the servant leadership style that Jesus modeled for us. What better way for my kids to really see “Jesus in me”!
As I have shared with you before, the Bible provides a great role model to follow in raising our kids. That model is Jesus himself and the way in which He grew up. Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus “grew in wisdom, stature, favor with man, and favor with God.” Last week, I wrote to you concerning teaching our children about wisdom and in particular making wise choices. This week I want to address the idea of stature.
I really believe that there are a couple of issues to consider when teaching our children about how to grow in stature as Jesus did. However, today I want to deal with one in particular. Let’s begin by looking at one way in which the Bible describes stature. One of the ways it is defined in the Bible is that it is used to describe wisdom and righteousness. Luke 2:40 tells us that Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.”
As Christians, we are expected to grow in stature. Look at how Paul described it in Ephesians 4:12-15.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
I know that from these verses that my goal with my children should be to raise them in righteousness, equip them with the truth of God’s Word, and prepare them to engage our culture so that they will not be tossed about with every new doctrine or theory that comes along. There are far too many students walking away from the faith according to various studies conducted by research companies every year. They are being carried and tossed about as these verses describe.
Jesus had the stature to stand in the Temple at a young age and know truth and how to stand amidst strong opposition. I want my kids and our students to have that same stature. To gain Godly stature, we have got to teach them to daily grow in knowledge and obedience to and of God’s truth.
I want them to have Godly stature that will enable them to stand on truth and not fall. I desire that my kids would grow up into Him in all things as verse 15 declares. I pray that God will give us as parents the wisdom to work towards this goal in raising our children.