Our homes can be spiritual greenhouses where tender souls are fed and nourished until they are ready to be transplanted out in our world. The soul is the aspect of our being that God created to desire Him. Since the Garden of Eden God has sought relationship with the humans He created, and throughout history, we have blown it! We have thought it was about setting up rules and rituals to follow, but it is really about relationship with God through His son Jesus.
As we seek to guide our children toward a meaningful relationship with their Heavenly Father, we can learn so much from the way we grow tender seedlings. In a greenhouse, seeds are planted in soil that has the correct nutrients for that plant. The soil also serves as support for the emerging seedling. In our homes, the soil is like the unconditional love we must show toward one another. Our children must sense a constant acceptance of who they are that allows them to grow in acceptance of who God made them. This is not a denial of sinful behavior, but a realization that God loves us “while we are yet sinners”.
As seedlings begin to sprout and grow, they must have water to sustain growth. As our children are raised in an atmosphere of unconditional love, they need the water of God’s Word to nourish and establish them in spiritual truth.
Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Then seedlings must have sunshine to grow in a healthy fashion. Seedlings without sunshine are pale, leggy, and have few leaves. They are weak and the stems cannot support the little plant as it grows. The sun is Jesus, God’s son the light of the world. As our children grow it is important to encourage them to develop their own relationship to God through Jesus. They will not become strong spiritually on love (soil) and God’s Word (water) alone. They must have the light of Jesus shining in their lives to strengthen and establish them.
Often gardeners will prune young plants to make sure that the plant grows straight and doesn’t branch off in too many directions creating a weak stem or trunk. Then, after the plant has a strong stem, pruning encourages healthy branching out and more prolific blooming. Pruning spiritually is discipline, cutting out the things that hinder spiritual growth. In young children this can be monitoring what they read, what they see in the media, and the kind of toys they play with. Removing harmful influences is like weeding and being sure that the tender plant isn’t choked out.
Finally, the home should be like a greenhouse protecting the little plants from harsh elements and extreme temperatures. Our homes can be a haven of protection from the harsh influences of our culture. It should be a safe place for our children and their friends. Establishing a time for family devotions where children are free to ask questions and encouraged to share hurts and concerns will create a safe, loving, and nurturing environment that will allow our children to grow spiritually and bare fruit that remains.
Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
“30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus said these words and emphasized that was no greater commandment then these. The past four weeks we have taken a brief look at the four aspects of our beings, the heart (emotions), soul (spiritual), mind (intellect), and strength (physical). As parents we sometimes focus on one or two of these areas, or we may switch focus from time to time. God has created us with all these aspects and Jesus states that we are to love God with our whole beings.
The challenge before us is to balance the training of our children, which will only occur by His grace.