Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5, 6
Recently I looked at a ministry resource given to my daughter and was taken aback. It was a “children’s translation” or “interpretation” of Philippians 2:5, 7. It read as follows: “In your lives you must think and act like Jesus. He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.”
I’m sure the translator meant well. While it is true that as we continue to look to Christ and His finished work we become like Him by His Spirit, it’s certainly not something we accomplish in our own effort. Furthermore, the full context of the verses is an admonition to consider others before ourselves. It speaks to seeing things from Christ’s perspective. None of us had a place with God to give up. We were already nothing therefore needing Jesus to serve as the perfect sacrifice. It’s not a model to mimic. It’s a wonder to savor. Anything about us resembling Christ is purely by grace, not by our works.
After I read the handout, I folded it and put it on her dresser, moving to tuck her into bed. She noticed and asked why I folded it and what it said. (She knows me well enough to know the next stop for that piece of paper was the garbage can!) After a couple of questions, I realized she didn’t know what the handout said. It was merely given to her as a coloring sheet. So I read it to her, all the while asking the Lord to help me respond. Then I shared what He gave me: ‘God wants us to receive His love and trust Him. Trust that as He works in us we’ll begin thinking like Him and doing things reminiscent of Him. It’s about trust, not must.’ I looked at her waiting for her response. Did she understand? She cocked her head to the side and said, “Oh, okay.” Kids!
Two things came to mind as I closed her bedroom door behind me. One, as parents, my husband and I have primary spiritual influence over our children. It’s an honor we can’t abdicate to anyone else. Second, training up children to follow Jesus is a humble position. They don’t need our opinion; they need to know what their loving Lord says. My best bet is to open my mouth and let Him fill it.
2 Corinthians 3: 18
Philippians 2: 1-7