For Parents with Babies

smile-babyAs the parent of a toddler (Breanna, 18 months old), I have been tempted to think that I have all the time in the world to figure out how to engage in the task of parenting in such a way that my children grow up to be Christ-loving, God-fearing adults. That was even more of a temptation when my daughter couldn’t crawl or walk or say any words. When your child is a baby, or just growing out of that phase, it seems a little out of place to speak of “reaching the heart,” or “discipleship.” Sometimes it even seems weird to read a Bible story to an infant–let alone pray with them.

So when is it appropriate for us as parents to begin addressing the heart issues our child needs to face? When should we be gathering the necessary tools to point our children to the Savior? When is it time to think through family devotions? When does it become crucial for our little ones to be in church on a regular basis? I don’t have an exact answer to that question, but the following verses help me keep things in perspective:

  • “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
  • “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3).
  • “For I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb” (Isaiah 48:8b).
  • “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

Even though it’s difficult to think of my little angel as a born sinner, the Bible is still true. Sin had a head start. Sewn into the fiber of my baby’s being is the tendency to covet, to hate, to love self, to reject God.

I don’t know when in the life of my toddler I should really begin to concern myself with the issues of her heart. But I do know that sin had a head start, so I’m not wasting time. I’m not waiting around for sin to sink its teeth into that precious soul. I’m not waiting till her idols of the heart become embarrassingly apparent. I’m not even waiting for her to listen. By God’s grace, I want to stock my brain full of the weapons of spiritual battle, ready to wage war for my child. I want to knock down the graven images in my own life so I can be an example for her today. I want to preach the gospel to her–even though she doesn’t know what I’m saying–so that it sticks in her mind and doesn’t leave.

When is it time to really get serious about cultivating your child’s heart? Wrong question. The real question is, how can we sit there on the couch while sin tightens its grip around the fragile souls of our children? Sin may have a head start, but the Gospel is the power of God. Let’s preach it with our lips and our lives to our little ones.

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