4 Biblical Truths I Learned From My Kids

Someone at church told Stacey the other day that we should abandon the saying “Well, it’s not rocket science,” and replace it with, “Well, it’s not parenting.” That is because while I am sure that rocket science is really hard, I am all the more sure that parenting is way harder.  Anyone agree? When we parent we are dealing with real people who have real souls. And there is no one that can influence our children like we can. And it is often so hard to know how to respond to every circumstance that we encounter with our kids. But what has really amazed me is how much I actually learn about God and the Bible by parenting. Below are just a few of the ways that the Lord has used my children in my life.
1. Love is More Important Than Knowledge
I have been beyond astonished at the amount of Bible that my children are able to retain. We have the kids listen to the Bible as they go to sleep (a dramatized version on CD). And every morning I get questions like, “Why did Israel not worship God but worship the Baals?” and “Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and sulfur?” Each of my kids can quote (for the most part) and sing Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” And yet, it is not uncommon in our house for my children to be arguing with one another about whether we should sing the Ephesians 6:1 song or the Philippians 2:14 song, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
In discussing how we should respond to the struggles of other believers, Paul writes, “This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up” (I Corinthians 8:1b). If my children memorize the entire Bible but have no love, they will merely be modern-day Pharisees that strain out gnats and swallow camels.  This is not a new truth. I have read these passages before and seen this sin in myself. But it seems that God gives us children to be caricatures of sin.  The loveless knowledge that dwells in my flesh can be subtle, but there is nothing subtle about my kids. And the sin that I hide comes out of their mouths in such a ridiculous way that it reveals how absurd sin really is. I am so thankful to have constant reminders all around me of the folly of seeking knowledge without love.
2. All Have Sinned
I can remember a few months into having Kaden at home I watched him deliberately sin. He would have been less than a year old. We had told him not to touch a lamp in the living room and I walked out of the room for a second and then looked back in. He was sitting by the lamp and looked over his left shoulder and then his right. Not seeing me, he reached out and touched the lamp. I was really shocked that willful disobedience could be evident in such a young child. It should not have been too surprising, though, as Psalm 14 tells us,
“The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” Psalm 14:2,3.
It is so blatantly clear that my kids are needy. Without their parents they would not stand a chance in this world. But their neediness is so much deeper. From birth they enter into this world selfish and sinful. And that is a need that I cannot fulfill for them. Only Christ can provide them with the solution. But I am glad to be able to daily explain to my kids that they are sinners. If only for the fact that I can point them to the only Way for their sins to be forgiven.
3. God is More Merciful Than I
I usually start out the day patient and merciful. Oatmeal on the floor, “It’s OK sweetie, just try to be more careful next time.” Discipline time is filled with Scripture references and gentle rebuke. But by the end of the day, my patience has worn thin and by bedtime I am usually one more high-pitched scream away from becoming a big green rage monster. More than once I have thought, if not said, “You are making me angry. You won’t like me when I am angry.” And in comparison,
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22,23
I genuinely thought of myself as a patient person before we got kids. And even now, when I lose patience with my kids I am tempted to think that it is their fault. If only they would just do what I told them, I would not be this frustrated. And yet to me, a man who has sinned every day of his life, the Lord has been patient. I was reading the stories of Israel in the wilderness to the kids recently. And I kept thinking as the Israelites would complain about water, or food, or wanting a different kind of food, “These people are toddlers!” Yet I cannot tell you how many times I have had to ask God for forgiveness for being demanding and complaining. And he still gives it to me. His mercies are new every morning, and I need them to be! I am so thankful that the Lord is more patient than I.
4. Discipline is for My Good
There is nothing in the world that melts my heart like holding one of my kids and hugging them after they have received discipline, telling them that I love them, and then them saying, “Daddy, I love you too.” For years, I have understood conceptually that discipline was an extension of love, but it was not until I was a parent that I really understood it. The author of Hebrews told us,
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” Hebrews 12:11.
This is why the Proverbs so often tell us not to despise discipline. It is because it is good for us when it comes from our Father. I really do not think I could have ever understood this without my children. I love them so much and I see that true love does not see sin in others and allow it to continue.  I am so thankful that my Father did not leave me in my sin. When I have been through times of discipline it did not feel worth it. It did not feel like it was for my good. But I know so deeply now that we can trust our Father with our good. Because even when my kids think they know what is best, they rarely do. I am not perfect, but I know better than them. How much more can we trust our heavenly Father!
So, parenting is hard. And I rarely feel like I know what I am doing. I know that the Lord will always equip us to do the jobs that he calls us to do. What I did not know was that he equips us through the job. I am a better father today because I have been a father for three years. Each step of the way the Lord is teaching me lessons I thought I already knew. My prayer is that the Lord would continue to grant me this growth so that I can be a better father tomorrow than I am today. My prayer is:
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip [us] with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” Hebrews 13:20-21.

Author: David M. Hare

Dave is a husband, father of four Africans, and is currently helping the Kwakum people do Oral Bible Storying and Bible translation in Cameroon, Africa.