I was listening to a podcast on how to reach the next generation for Christ and again heard the charge for parents to teach and model where their hope comes from, to not shy away from living counter-culturally, and to not have a “fear” of pushing their kids away from them by being seen as "uncool" or "irrelevant" in the world’s eyes.
We all have it.
Too often our fear is misguided by fears of what-ifs or a need for acceptance; Instead, there has to be a shift of focus and fear back onto the Lord.
We all need it.
For some, the fear of the Lord is a new concept, for others it may be confusing. If God is love, why would he want us to be afraid of him? God is so much bigger than our man-defined terms of love and fear. His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
To fear the Lord is to reverentially remember who God is, to remember who we are, and to worship God for it.
Parents, to reach the next generation, we need to get back to or find a holy fear:
1) A holy fear to raise our kids up “in the discipline and admonition (nurture and instruction) of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
There are astounding statistics that 63% of Americans identify as Christians, yet, only 4% of Americans hold a Biblical worldview (Pew Research 2021, Barna Group, 2022). These numbers have been declining for decades.
Since all scripture (the Bible) is God-breathed and Christ is the Word who became flesh (2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 1:14), how can one separate the Bible from the identity of a Christian? Is it because we have slowly misplaced our fear, made other things more important, and feel the need to make what we profess more palatable? This sounds like we are venturing back into subjective hope-less territory.
2) A holy fear to “steward” well the gift of parenting and teach our kids to follow God’s statutes.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth."
Read this scripture again. Notice, before this scripture speaks to our kids, it speaks to us -- to fix God's Word on our minds and hearts, and then teach them to your children when you sit, walk, rise, and wake. Am I suggesting parents should fully know scripture before they can teach their children? Absolutely not. On this side of heaven, no one will ever fully know and understand all there is to know of the scriptures. Instead, we are to start where ever we are and humbly teach what we know, while continually learning together. A parent who seeks to know what God says, recognizes they do not know it all, makes time to learn, and finds/attends a church that teaches the Bible, is developing and modeling a fear of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 11 speaks of Moses, God's appointed leader for his appointed time, preparing this generation of Israelites and the ones to come for the promised land. Since God never changes (Hebrews 13:8) and His Word still speaks (Hebrews 4:12), we can assume these are still God’s words to His people and the ones to come. If you are a parent, you have been appointed to raise your children for such a time as this. If you are not a parent, you have been appointed to speak into the younger generation he has placed around you.
3) A holy fear to receive a conviction to obey.
Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live,
May I suggest that the book of Deuteronomy - Moses' declaration to God's people before entering the promised land - can be summed up into one phrase - Obedience brings blessings, disobedience brings curses. This principle is seen all through scripture and even in our own lives as individuals and parents. Near the end of Moses' instruction, he pleads for God's people to choose life, which literally means to have a holy fear so that they and their offspring can live.
Parents, we are preparing the next generation and as Americans, we have been placed in a land full of promise. Obedience is hard but we have future generations looking to us. We need to recognize our true state (sinners separated from a Holy God), know what sin is and repent by calling it sin, humble ourselves by admitting our need daily for Jesus' sacrifice, and choose life so we and our offspring might live.
Fear of man or fear of God. It is one or the other.
The type of fear we parent with is the type of fear we are cultivating in our kids.
This day, I set before you this question: Will you cultivate a culturally-based fear of man that steals, kills, and destroys; OR a confidence in the unchanging truth of our Creator and Redeemer that brings forth hope, life, and blessing?
Which fear type do you tend towards - fear of man (an unhealthy focus of worry about what others think, not being accepted, or going against the grain) or fear of God (a holy focus on pleasing and obeying God as a reverent act of worship)?
How might you be cultivating a worldly fear in your kids? Admit, confess, and repent.
Read Deuteronomy 11:18-21 again. Which area convicts you the most? How can you start cultivating hope this week?
Fix God's words on your hearts and mind.
Teach them to your children when you sit, walk, rise, and wake.
Display them in your homes.