By Sarah Rein

I was recently part of a group discussion in which we were asked, “Why is it hard to share the gospel?” We had the conversation you’d expect: We would feel concerned about possibly offending someone, or ill-equipped for the questions that could follow.

My mind was drawn to parenting. “At least that’s one place it isn’t hard,” I mused. I have a half-dozen well-written story Bibles that practically shout the gospel at my kids on every page. Between home and church, I imagine they could point out a Christ connection in most of the stories in scripture.

And yet … something about sharing the gospel with our kids does feel hard. As a mom, I’ve encountered a great deal of focus on positive parenting and gentle parenting (not actually the same thing but they live in the same neighborhood). My exposure to those philosophies has complicated things for me a little.

I read quite a few of these books in my early parenting days and incorporated some of the techniques. Keeping your cool and helping your child process their feelings … not bad advice. Not demeaning or shaming them when they mess up … also not bad advice.

But after I read those books, you know what felt hard? Calling my kids sinners. Recognizing sin in my children and letting them know that their angry, hurtful words about their siblings, or their refusal to do what I’d asked them to, was not just “pushing boundaries” or “making a mistake” or an understandable reaction to their feelings. It was sin.

And Christians, our gossiping, our seemingly innocent untruths, our refusal to redirect our inappropriate or envious thoughts? Also sin, deserving of death.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? I hope so. Because by downplaying or explaining away our sin and the sin of our cute, cuddly offspring, we are blinding ourselves to the desperate need for a Savior.

As humanist thinking pollutes our parenting, we lose sight of the extent of our separation from a holy God, and the overwhelming beauty of Christ coming to our rescue is lost. For our kids too.

What I’ve come to realize through the Holy Spirit is that any parenting gems I mined from these “new” parenting styles were already in God’s Word. For example:

Gentle parenting centers on acknowledging a child’s feelings and the motivations behind challenging behavior. “People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7.

Positive parenting is all about fostering respectful relationships. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:10.

God’s Word also stands ready to destroy the dangerous lies that come along with any useful tips. Below are two examples and what the Word has to say in response.

The lie: Children don’t defy for the sake of defiance, but their challenging behavior is a physiological response to stress and should be seen as essentially adaptive. The truth: “We were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”- Ephesians 2:3.

The lie: Kids are born perfect. The truth: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5.

Parents, I hope you are reminded today, as I have been, that any parenting techniques or philosophies should be measured against God’s Word. Use any practical suggestions that align with scripture, along with much prayer. Flee from anything that stands in opposition to God’s Word. 

The enemy is sneaky, so let’s be wise to his ways. There is no modern wisdom of man that should be elevated above the eternal words of God.

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” – 1 Corinthians 1:30

Sarah Rein and her husband, Trey, are raising their four children in Brandon, where Trey is a school principal and Sarah is home a LOT. Luckily she’s an introvert who enjoys reading and learning about new things and people. The Reins love their church family at Lakeside Presbyterian and coffee.