A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of leading the congregation I attend in singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness, a song which is arguably one of the great hymns of the faith. Its lyrics give us a glimpse into some of the myriad ways in which God is faithful, enabling us to grasp nuggets of that amazing truth. But Scripture tells us that faithfulness is also a fruit of the Spirit in our lives, which means we actually have a real ability from the Lord to choose to exhibit – with our children and others – some of the same qualities that exemplify God’s faithfulness. Ponder some of the song’s phrases, thinking about how these ideas might apply in human relationships, particularly with our children:
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Pardon for sin
A peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today
Bright hope for tomorrow
And according to Dictionary.com, faithfulness can be described – among other things – as a thorough performance of one’s duty; being true to one’s promises; reliability; steadiness; loyalty; constancy; devotion. Of course, that’s a very tall order, one that only the Lord can fulfill perfectly. But, as with other aspects of the Spirit’s fruit, we too often discount it entirely, choosing immaturity – “I can’t do this all the time so I won’t even try,” or “I don’t want to be calm and steady; that’s boring!” – over the effort it takes to decide to walk in the Spirit. It’s not that we’re incapable because, if we know Christ as Savior, the Spirit resides within us. But we often choose to toss aside what He offers – abilities to maintain a steady presence in our children’s daily lives, to show mercy, to forgive their sins – in favor of satisfying our own desires for self-indulgence, anger, and bitterness.
But like it or not, our children’s view of God is built of the foundation of what they see in us. Thus, if they know they can come to us no matter what, they’ll realize they can go to God. If they understand that we’ll provide loving correction and then a clean slate, they’ll realize that God guides and redirects as needed without holding a record of wrongs. If they cannot doubt our devotion to being present for them, they’ll realize God is constant.
In order to make such ideas more practical, try this: Choose one phrase from Great Is Thy Faithfulness and copy it into your journal. Brainstorm concrete ways you might demonstrate that quality to your children, adding to the list over the course of a week while also purposing to do what you’ve jotted down. After several days, choose another phrase and repeat the process. Over time, demonstrating faithfulness to your children will become more and more natural. And in the process, you’ll be allowing God to use you to point them more and more toward Him.
Photo Credit: Stephan Hochhaus