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Whose kids are they anyway?

Knowing our children are God’s changes how we raise them.

It seems logical to think of our children as, well, ‘ours’. We conceived them, we gave birth to them, we’ve nurtured and raised them. They’re ours, s/he’s mine.

This is true for those of us who have been given the privilege of biological parenthood, but it is not the only way we ‘have children’. We might adopt or foster children, we might conceive through IVF, we might marry into a family and raise stepchildren as if they are our own. This possessive mindset is a good thing when it leads us to taking responsibility for the raising and nurturing of our kids, but it is not entirely true and helpful, even for those whose children are biologically ‘ours’.

God the Father has made each child with full knowledge and intimacy (Psalm 139) and loves each one deeply. Job recognised, ‘The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.’ (Job 33:4). Paul writes about Jesus:

‘For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.’ (Colossians 1:16)

Even if we conceived, carried and delivered a child biologically this was all made possible by and for Jesus—the firstborn over all creation. This means ‘our children’ are actually ‘his children’.

God has given us these children, precious possessions of his, to look after for a time. We will all need to give account to him for how we nurtured them while they were in our care. Our parent–child relationship is earthbound; it will not continue on into eternity (Mark 12:18-27). Rather, we will all be brothers and sisters in Christ, children of God the Father. So let’s train, teach, guide, discipline and point them to the cross of Jesus for his sake while we have them in our care.

When we realise and remember our children are his, it changes our role and purpose as parents. We no longer:

  • take our identity from being a parent
  • use our kids to make us look good
  • strive for them to have a ‘happy life’ with every possible experience
  • let them do whatever they want, when they want.

Rather we:

  • pray for their hearts to be turned from idols and towards the living God in repentance
  • teach them about Jesus the author and perfecter of life
  • instruct them in the ways of the Lord
  • train them to live in obedience to him
  • model an obedient, repentant, servant heart to him who has saved us.

Knowing that our children are God’s also helps us to see that ultimately, it’s not society, schools, the government or even us parents who know what’s best for them, but God . So what does he want for our (his) children? From reading a bunch of Bible passages I think it can be summarised that God wants all people, from childhood, to:

  • know him as Creator of all, Judge of all and Saviour of his people
  • love him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength
  • understand that his wrath for our sin was poured onto Jesus, his Son
  • live in obedience to him and those he puts over us
  • love others with the same sacrificial love shown to us.

(I drew these points from Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:4–9 and 11:18–19; Joshua 4:4–7; Psalm 78:1–8; Proverbs 22:6 and 9:10; Matthew 19:13–15, and Ephesians 6:1–4.)

With this front and centre in our minds, we can prioritise activities and make judgements about smaller decisions for our (his) kids. Which school should they attend? Which (and how many) extracurricular activities are appropriate for them? Should there be limits on their screen time/movies they watch? What are appropriate/inappropriate ways for them to speak to us and others? What will we do when they are disobedient to us?

There is no one ‘Christian’ answer to these (and all the other) questions and decisions we have to make, but in each one we can ask ourselves, ‘Is this decision/activity adding to or detracting from what God wants for his child?’.

Realising that my kids are not mine, but God’s has made a profound impact on the way I raise them—for his sake, not my own. My prayer is for this to change the way you view your children too.

This article is a compilation of two articles from ‘Kids for Church’: 'The day I realised they're not my kids' and 'Who knows what's best for our kids?'.
Andrew is married to Kim and is dad to three sons. He has been leading the ministries to Youth and Kids on team at Hunter Bible Church, Newcastle since 2011.


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