One of the great burdens of my heart has been how we raise a Godly next generation. There is so much competing for their minds, energy, and time. That’s why it’s as important as ever that we recognize our roles and participate in bringing up the next generation as a remnant—passing the baton of faith boldly.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you….” We often hear the emphasis on the concept of going to the nations to preach the Gospel. I’m certainly for that!
While we should never express that works are what save us, the Bible teaches that it is possible to grow in the sight of God and man:
“Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.”
–Proverbs 3:3-4 (NASB)
The NIV translates the first phrase as, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Either way, you can see that adhering to truth is the key to unlock Godly wisdom and grow in the sight of God and others. As Proverbs 8:35 says, “For he who finds me (wisdom) finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.”
There are two examples in Scripture for “growing in favor” with God and man. The first is Jesus. Most of us have heard Luke 2:52: “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” In Luke 2:40, it says “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Even Jesus exhibited growth in wisdom and God’s favor!
Theologically, given that Christ is Lord and has been with God from the beginning, I can’t really understand the idea that even Jesus grew. I’ve read commentaries, heard sermons, and pondered the subject for a while, deciding it’s one of those things I will never fully grasp this side of heaven. And that’s ok, because we have the example of Samuel to help apply the concept to the rest of us.
1 Samuel 2:26 says, “Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.” Consider how that happened in context.
Hannah was unable to have a child and prayed that God would give her one. When she gave birth, “she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 1:20). When she weaned the child, she brought him to the house of worship “that he may appear before the Lord and stay there forever.” (1 Samuel 1:22, 24). She “dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:28). She worshiped God with a beautiful prayer that’s recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Then, she left and went back home and only saw Samuel one time a year thereafter. (1 Samuel 2:19).
The Bible records a lot of detail about God’s frustration and judgment on the men around whom Samuel was raised. The men in leadership at the tent of meeting were taking advantage of the women (1 Samuel 2:22) and apparently doing all kinds of evil in Israel that was earning them quite a reputation (1 Samuel 2 and 3 generally). They were hypocrites of the most dangerous nature—those who say they are serving God but really are walking in evil. Samuel was immersed in a culture that was full of worldly distractions, just like children in our lives. You might say that Samuel was robbed of his youth.
Yet God chose him, from this atmosphere, to be set apart. God revealed “the word of the Lord” to Samuel. (1 Samuel 3). God “was with him and let none of his words fail.” (1 Samuel 3:19). Eventually, Samuel was instrumental in Israel’s history as a nation. He was set apart.
All of this swims in my head as I consider what I can do. Practically speaking, what does my role look like? I am left thinking of Hannah, who recognized that she was a parent because God gave her that privilege. That the child did not belong to her, and that God’s direction was what was important. She fully dedicated her child to God and prayed for him.
So, I will pray for my children and those children in my sphere of influence. I will try my best to teach them truth—to write the word on the tablets of their little hearts so they will “find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4).
Please join me in prayer:
“Lord, help me participate in bringing up children who are a remnant. Set them apart from this world and seal them for the day Jesus returns. Help me teach them that they are a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you. Help me to grow them in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. As with Samuel, help them grow despite their circumstances in this fallen world. Like Jesus, help them learn to pray to you and walk with you and defer to your plans, Lord, even when that might bring them great personal suffering. Help me realize my role of trusting you and deferring to your plan for them. Amen.”