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The Best Gift a Parent Can Give

June 16, 2024 Speaker: Kit Johnson Series: Miscellaneous Sermons

Topic: Expository Passage: Luke 10:38-42

 

Introduction

Since the kids just sang their VBS songs, and it’s Father’s Day, it’s a great time to talk about parenting. I know many of you are not parents, or your kids are grown up, but we are all responsible to the next generation. Every Christian must be invested in raising them to know the Lord. So, this sermon matters for us all.

That said, being a parent is one of the most wonderful privileges anyone can know. It’s grueling, but you love your kids, and you want the very best for them. But unfortunately, corporate marketing agencies know you want to give your kids the moon, and they love to take advantage of you.

Your baby is on board, so what’s another $100 for the very safest car seat? He might be the next Mike Trout. Just in case, he needs a $200 bat, a private batting coach and pitching coach, and year-round travel ball. And every good parent puts their kids in karate and pays for at least one set of instrument lessons

You also want her to have the most fun childhood imaginable. She must get the full Disneyland experience, wear the most stylish clothes, and have the very best video game system. Parents, you feel the pressure to give your kids the very best.

But I want you to step back and ask, what is the best gift you can give your children? You can’t give them everything. You only have so much time and money. What should be your first priority? What is, “The Best Gift a Parent Can Give”? Jesus answers in a powerful little story.

I.  Jesus’ Priority: Know the Lord (Luke 10:38–42).

I must say up front that this is not a parenting passage. But it is a priority passage. So, it’s applicable to this morning’s question. And it challenges our priorities with a real to life, very relatable story.

Specifically, Jesus and his disciples stop at the home of two good friends—Mary and Martha. Both ladies love Jesus, and they are excited to have him visit. But they show their love very differently.

Mary was probably the more emotional one. She was so full of joy that her head is in the clouds, and her feet rarely touched the ground. So, she immediately sat down and soaked up everything Jesus said.

But Martha is more practical. She is laser focused on being a great hostess to the 13+ visitors who are in her home. She’s slaughtering chickens, peeling potatoes, setting the table, and doing it all 100 mph.

Finally, she explodes (v. 40b). She knows she is right, and Jesus must correct Mary’s broken priorities. Instead, Jesus rebukes her because she is the one with wrong priorities (vv. 41–42). It’s a powerful rebuke, and it also challenges your priorities. And for our purposes, Martha and Mary provide a powerful contrast between two types of modern parents. First, our culture pushes you to be…

Martha Parents: Parents, how many of you feel “distracted”? How about “worried and bothered”? Martha sounds like us. Now, it’s not wrong to be busy or for your kids to be busy. It’s far better than having them sleep in and stare at screens.

The problem is that we are often busy with the wrong things. You don’t peel potatoes when Jesus is teaching. You stop and listen.

Maybe you are parenting like Martha. Your family is busy all the time with lots of good stuff. Sports, private lessons, family vacations, and saving for college are all good things. But you are distracted, and you’ve lost sight of the “one thing (that) is necessary,” setting your children at the feet of Jesus.

But regardless of what you say you believe, your family routines and your calendar shouts, “Success, money, and fun are most needful. And we’ll get around to Jesus with what’s left.” You may have the best intentions, but Jesus is looking at you with the same disappointment he had toward Martha. He is urging you to be…

Mary Parents: Specifically, he wants you to believe, “One thing is necessary” for your children. All the other stuff may have its place, but your children MUST sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him.

I know many other things scream for your attention. I bet Mary could hear Martha banging around, not so subtly hinting that she should be in the kitchen too. But stay razor-focused on what is best for your kids.

Parents, the greatest gift you can give your children is to place them at the feet of Jesus. They must know the Lord and enjoy a vibrant walk with him. Do not let anything in your life or theirs distract you from this pursuit.

But maybe you’d say, “But Pastor, I’m really busy. I have a demanding job, and I’m too tired to do anything more.” Maybe you’d say, “Yeah, but my son is really talented. I must set him up for success.” Or, “We have to do fun things so that my kids really love me.” Certainly, parenting is a really challenging balancing act. But let’s consider…

II.  Jesus’ Reward

Simply put, the potential rewards of sitting at Jesus’ feet are without rival. And when you put Jesus first in your family’s life, you declare that nothing in this world compares to the hope of…

Eternity with Christ: I love Jesus’ gentle rebuke earlier in the chapter when his disciples boasted about casting out demons (Luke 10:20). It’s fine to get excited about many things, but heaven is forever.

Nothing is more important to your child’s good than having a place in heaven secure. So, I can’t think of a greater mistake you could make for yourself and as a parent than to mimic the values of a fictional character Jesus described in Luke 12:13–21.

First, don’t be this man yourself. Don’t be greedy for the things of this world, and don’t place your hope in worldly securities. Why? Because you can’t take any of it with you after death, and none of it will matter when you stand before Christ. So, make sure you are ready to meet the Lord. Receive Christ as your Lord and Savior if you have never done so.

Second, how tragic it would be if your example taught your children to believe that big barns are where it’s at. No, show them that preparing for eternity is the most important preparation. Tell them that nothing matters more than knowing they are saved and ready to meet the Lord.

Teach them to anticipate the joy of Jesus’ presence more than any Christmas present. They may miss a few fun things, but heaven will be more than worth it. But there’s more at Jesus’ feet. He also promises….

New Life in Christ: Parents, you love your kids, and you want them to enjoy a happy, fulfilled life. That’s why parents invest so much time and money into education, social skill, and other things. But I can’t imagine anything that will promise your children a happier, more fulfilled life than the offer of Galatians 5:22–23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control.”

If your children consistently display these fruits, they will have a great life. It may not be easy, but they will have a strong defense against anxiety, depression, and greed. They will be great employees, they will have strong family relationships, and they will be close to family. They may never be rich, but they will have joy and live impactful lives. Isn’t that what you want?

So, how do you get them there? This is fruit of the Spirit. It’s the product of a life near to Jesus and in submission to his will. The world is grasping helplessly for these 9 qualities, but they are in reach for the true believer who lives a vibrant Christian life near to the Savior.

So, do you want your children to live a vibrant, healthy life? Teach them to make Jesus the greatest passion of their lives. Teach them to walk with God. By God’s grace, you can help them know love, joy, and peace they will not find anywhere else.

But you might say, “Pastor, that’s all great, but what if the economy crashes? What if our government starts persecuting Christians? What if my child is hit with a life-altering or potentially deadly illness? I must protect them.”

You should plan for the future. But faith, not fear, must dominate your life. And be honest, you are not God. No matter what precautions you take, you cannot guarantee your child a pain-free, safe life. But by the grace of God, you can set them up with the very best protection against the suffering they will surely face. You can help them know…

Contentment in Christ: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:11–13).

This passage promises the shield against suffering that every parent dreams of providing. Sorrows will surely come, but your child can be content, he can have joy through all of them. How? Through the power that comes from a vibrant, healthy relationship to Christ (v. 13). Paul is not saying through Christ your child can pick up cars and ace his ACTs. But it is saying, that if he or she lives near to Christ, he will give power to endure every challenge with a joy they will not find anywhere else. It’s invaluable.

So, do you believe God? Let’s put you to the test. How would you respond if God told you your child will grow up to be the Apostle Paul or a missionary woman like Anne Judson or Lottie Moon? Your gut reaction is probably to jump to all the potential suffering, hatred, heavy burdens, and premature death. It’s terrifying. You don’t want that. You want him or her healthy, wealthy, and secure. You know why? You trust earthly securities to protect your child more than you trust Christ. You parent by fear, not faith.

You need to trust God. I want you to leave believing Jesus when he said one thing is necessary to your child’s wellbeing. He or she can miss out on many things, but he or she must learn to sit at the feet of Jesus because his presence means more than life itself. I want you to leave believing, the best gift a parent can give is to put your children at the feet of Jesus. I hope you do. And if you do, then we must discuss how to get them there? Let’s talk finally about…

III.  Your Responsibility

To be clear, you can’t force your child to have a vibrant faith. God is sovereign, not you. But God works through human agency. And the Bible teaches that you can set your children up to know the joy of a vibrant faith. There’s so much I could say, but I want to emphasize 3 invaluable gifts.

A Godly Example: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9). That is an incredible verse. Many parents want their kids to know God, but they don’t want to lead the way. But Paul lived in such a way that he could say, “If you follow in my footsteps, they’ll lead you to the feet of Jesus. ‘The God of peace will be with you.’”

Would you feel confident giving your children the same invitation? You don’t have to be perfect to say yes. Paul failed, and so will you. You don’t do your children any favors by being pretending you are perfect when they can clearly see you are not.

God is not demanding perfection. Frankly, some of your best opportunities to truly lead them to the feet of Jesus will come when you fail. You get to show them how to repent and how to rest in the grace and mercy of Jesus. That’s vital because your kids will fail too. If they are going to sit at the feet of Jesus, they must know how to run into his arms for forgiveness.

All that said, the best way you can lead your kids to sit at Jesus’ feet is to sit there yourself. If they see you being a hypocrite, they will believe Christianity is just a game. But if they see the grace of God transforming your life and sustaining you through every challenge, they will believe it is real, powerful, and can do the same for them.

Folks, the best gift we can give the next generation, next to the Bible itself, is a vibrant, godly example. Parents, your kids need you to be godly more than they need you to make lots of money, keep the perfect house, or take them on the coolest vacations.

So, sit at Jesus’ feet. Prioritize your own spiritual health. Grow the fruit of the Spirit. Let them grow up in an environment of real faith, transforming grace, and all the blessings they provide. Don’t let anything get in the way of your walk with God. Give your children the gift of godly parents. The same goes for grandparents, youth workers, and every church member because we are all setting an example. The 2nd invaluable gift you can give is…

Godly Instruction: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut 6:6–7). Dads, it is your job (and ultimately all our jobs) to diligently teach God’s Word to our children.

Most importantly, you must teach them the gospel. They need to know they are sinners and that Jesus is great Savior. Beyond that, teach them all of God’s Word. Praise God that he has given you a church family that can support your efforts and compensate for your weaknesses. But you cannot pass the buck. Teach them God’s Word. If you don’t know where to start, I’d love to chat.

From there, put them in the way of as much biblical preaching and teaching as possible. Make church a priority. Get them to camp. Surround them with godly teachers. Psalm 1 says of the person blessed by God, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season
and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Ps 1:2–3). Do you want your kids to prosper? Firmly plant them in the Word. The 3rd invaluable gift you can give is…

Godly Disciplines: “How can a young man keep his way pure?By keeping it according to Your word” (Ps 119:9). Your child doesn’t have to wait until adulthood to establish godly disciplines. No, the best time to start is now because whether good or bad, your child is already building habits that will either foster the blessing of Christ or drag down their spiritual health.

Every godly rhythm you establish today will make future godliness that much easier. So build good habits today-habits of church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer. Build habits of honoring authority, controlling their emotions, and treating people well. Protect them from ungodly habits. Don’t let them get addicted to their phones or trash on the internet. Keep their minds pure and holy. Fight these battles today because the longer you wait, the harder they get.

Conclusion

Parents, put your children at the feet of Jesus. Show them his glory, and teach them to love him and know the wonder of his grace. This is the best gift you can give. Don’t let anything get in the way.

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