Do You Have the Hearts of Your Children?

The very reason I began this blog was my concern over what is happening in the family–namely, the Christian family.  To say the institution of the family is under attack is an understatement.  Some Christians have even joined in that attack, either actively or passively.  Consequently, we are seeing greater intrusion upon the family than ever.  Some defend the notion that “we make too big a deal over the family”, claiming that Christ was mainly interested in the individual.  Some allow the very institutions that should be strengthening the family to segregate it.

I believe the Bible speaks volumes about the family and about parent/child relationships.  But this past weekend, at a conference taught by our dear friends, I encountered a point never considered before.

The very last chapter of the OT is an important message from God:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6

After that, God doesn’t speak for 400 years.  But when He does speak again, consider his first  message in the New Testament:

“And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  Luke 1:17

Our friend summarized this fact by saying:  “God’s primary method for making ready “a people prepared for” Himself has a lot to do with the turning of father’s (parents’) hearts to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (parents).”

What are we doing (or not doing) to facilitate this “turning of our children’s hearts” to us?  Ask this question seriously.  Who has the hearts of your children?  Where do they spend the most time?  To what are they the most devoted?  Who has their allegiance? (It may not be another person or group of people…it could be music, games, entertainment, etc.–all have a message they are eager to impart.)

It seems that every force around us seeks to turn children’s hearts away from their parents.  And as God has given us the paramount task of bringing up “His heritage”, vigilance to keep our children’s heart should be one of our greatest goals.  Keeping their hearts means passing on to the next generation the gospel…it is the height of the Great Commission.  Unless we are diligent to pass on our godly heritage to our children, we have no opportunity to even think about passing it to others.

Do you have their hearts?  It is the means by which we are given to turn them to His.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

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10 Responses to “Do You Have the Hearts of Your Children?”

  1. Kim M. says:

    This is something I think about every day and pray for every day. That the Lord would tie our hearts together as a family. Thanks for sharing those verses!

  2. Christie says:

    I wanted to share a quote from Sunday’s sermon. I think it has GREAT application to dedicating your life to training little ones in the day-to-day aspects of life. The context is a sermon on Titus, hence the reference to Crete:

    Let us close with quotation from Thomas Oden: “Some would argue that it would do little good to begin in Crete, of all places, with the tiniest bits of behavior and try to reshape the world toward godliness from the ground up. It might seem at first that the pastoral effort was too microscopic, inordinately micromanaged, and that systemic, institutional, or political evils might better have been first addressed. Yet this is just the point most misunderstood by “systemic” reformers who have not adequately grasped the Apostle’s way of transformation: only by descending to reshape social existence beginning with the smallest, least conspicuous matters of daily social conduct is the society changed. This has longer, surer consequences than legislative or ideological posturing.”

  3. Kelly L says:

    We love that verse in our church. I think we hear it at least 12 times a year. It is super important to His kingdom on Earth! Great Post! (And not just because I agree, though that helps!;))

  4. Belinda says:

    “… He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers;…” Malachi 4:5-6

    I pray this for my husband and children often. My goals are usually aimed at strengthening our family, but my husband can be pulled in so many different directions(not that I can’t) in the workforce and with friends. I pray he is strengthened and renewed daily as to what we are to work for and the future generations. So, I like this verse…

    “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

    I would say give me an undivided home as well.

  5. The truth that adds to the promise ‘train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it’.

    Perhaps if this scripture (and others) were taken more literally, we would never have to wonder why rebellion and immorality enters the lives of our children when they are older.

    Great post, Kelly.

  6. Abby says:

    I think that we’re seeing this scripture from two different perspectives. See, from my view, MY part is to turn my heart to my children, not to try to keep their hearts. I would like for them to turn their hearts toward wisdom (not just my husband and myself–the Greek translation changes that last part), but it is not my part. I can’t ask for their hearts. I can focus on giving them the gospel message, but it’s also not about “keeping” their hearts, either. The hearts of our children belong to God. They can only be warmed to our instruction, but they never belong to us.

    I also see it as a restorative work, one that is already mostly done. John already did his job before Jesus came along. They were repenting in droves–repenting because they had abandoned God. John’s message was clear: Look out, the kingdom is coming–you better repent and keep an eye out for the King, he’s on his way. John’s message awoke a sleeping people, and Jesus finished that work with his redemptive work on the cross. Sure, it is a work still being done, but it is a prophecy about Israel returning to worship of the One True God.

    A couple of verses related to these:
    Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

    Deuteronomy 7:9-11 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.”

    And what exactly were the Israelites doing in Malachi to bring the destruction of God?

    1:6-14: Defiling the temple with defective sacrifices
    2:1-9: The priests were not honoring God in other ways, as well.
    2:10-12: Marrying foreign pagan women was against God’s commands at that time, too.
    2:13-16: Rampant divorce and unfaithfulness in marriage
    2:17: wearying the Lord with cynicism
    3:5: they were sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, unjust employers, oppressing widows and orphans, injustice to foreigners, and not fearing God.
    3:6-12: Not tithing, which was the main means of support for the priesthood.

    And this was AFTER the exile ended.

    God said Elijah (John) was going to come and bring a message of repentance. I don’t really see how these verses are about US very much at all.

  7. Word Warrior says:

    Abby–um, OK. So was there a reason that verse in written “in code” so that the average person reading it couldn’t understand it for what it says? I’m all for searching Scriptures and understanding context, but it says what is says. It is talking about real fathers and real children.

    Children were given ONE command: “honor/obey your father and mother”. It would make perfect sense then, that the parents would need their children’s hearts so they could be turned toward God and not the influences around them.

  8. Abby says:

    Kelly, the first thing I learned in hermeneutics is to first understand what a verse means IN context. Then and only then can it be applied out of context. I think your interpretation is off, not completely wrong, but askew.

    And Jesus spoke in parables so that: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” Matthew 13:13

    I never said it wasn’t talking about real families, in fact, it’s pretty obvious that I said the opposite. What I’m saying is that you are looking at the wrong part. When you were a child, you could have seen it as “I’m supposed to turn my heart to my parents” but now that you are a parent, you should be focussing on turning your heart to your children (which you are obviously doing). It’s not your job to turn your children’s hearts to their parents–that’s the job of the gospel message. You may be the one to share that gospel with them, but only the Holy Spirit convicts and can turn them toward you.

    I won’t get into the whole honor/obey debate, because I don’t think it really would make a difference. But what you say makes perfect sense isn’t always the easy thing.

  9. Lori says:

    How ridiculous is it that I’ve never put the and of the OT and the beginning of the NT together? What a powerful message!! I’ll have to copy that for my blog…credited, of course! Thanks!

  10. Lori says:

    Oops, I meant end…not and. 🙂

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