Every day we parent either like Christ or the Rich Young Ruler. Today AMBrewster unpacks the rich man’s parenting style and helps Christian parents understand where their parenting overlaps his as well as how to parent like Jesus.
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Discover the following episodes by clicking the titles or navigating to the episode in your app:
“Parenting Like The Holy Spirit” (episode 123)
“Parenting Like Jonah” (episode 197)
“Parenting Like Lot” (episode 214)
“Parenting Like Satan” (episode 372)
“The Counter-Intuitive Nature of Parenting in Christ” (episode 373)
“The Uncomfortable Neighbors of Parenting in Christ” (episode 374)
“The Reward of Parenting in Christ” (episode 375)
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As we close Season 15 and prepare to move into our 16th consecutive season of biblical parenting content, I just want to stop for a moment and praise the Lord.
Season 16 not only represents 4 years of God’s faithfulness, it also marks the beginning of Season 1 of The Celebration of God — a discipleship experience for Christian parents and their kids. I’m so incredibly excited about that.
As we start our 5th year of ministry and hit our 400th episode, I cannot thank God enough for His Truth, He empowerment to love, and His provision over these years.
But I specifically want to thank Him for using many of you to enable us to do this. Back in January of 2020 my family stepped out on faith to pursue Truth.Love.Parent. full time. Season 16 represents our 4th season working full time for TLP. At the end of season 16 we will have been doing this full-time for a year, and that is amazing.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Despite quarantines and international insanity, I really feel like I’ve been working on TLP full-time for only a couple of months.
If times flies when you’re having fun, I must be doing the most amazing thing ever, and I praise God for the opportunity to do so. And I thank Him for using you to keep us going.
Your one-time and monthly gifts are being used to pay our bills and putting food on the table, and I could not be more grateful.
If you have never sent a financial gift to TLP, will you please consider clicking on the TLP Friend link in the description of this episode?
There you will learn not only how you can be blessing to my family and TeamTLP, but how we can be a blessing to you. There are a lot of cool perks when you become a TLP Friend.
And speaking of money, let’s transition to our topic for today — Parenting like the Rich Young Ruler.
As always, free episode notes and transcripts are available for all of our TLP Followers at TakingBackTheFamily.com.
In Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 we’re introduced to an interesting interaction between Jesus and a well-to-do young man.
All of the accounts are extremely similar, so allow me to read Matthew 19:16-24, “And someone came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’17 And [Jesus] said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ 18 Then he *said to Him, ‘Which ones?”’And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 20 The young man *said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”’21 Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”’22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”
Now, despite my opener, today’s discussion has nothing to do with money per se, but it does have to do with riches. We’re going to overview this parable so as to understand what God was doing in this passage, and then we’re going to apply it specifically to our parenting.
All three recitations of this incident in the Gospel’s follow the same storyline.
Let’s talk quickly about why these 7 “plot points” are so important that they’re included in each telling.
Now, among other things, this account is included in all of the synoptic Gospels because mankind needs to understand the impossibility of saving ourselves.
It doesn’t matter how “good” you are, you are still a sinner. In fact, your righteousness is as filthy rags — the best you have to offer is as disgusting as old rags soaked in bodily fluids.
But God is good, and through the power of God we can have eternal life, not because of our righteousness, but because of His.
That, my friends, is a powerful message on which we and our families need to dwell.
But, there’s another parenting-specific lesson we need to learn here.
Over the years we’ve done episodes called Parenting Like the Holy Spirit, Jonah, Lot, and even Satan.
Unlike the Parenting Like the Holy Spirit episode, each of them have been designed to show us how easy it is to slip into destructive thinking when it comes to our parenting.
Jonah was selfish and fought God’s plan. That episode shows us how we do the same.
Lot had distracted righteousness. He believed He could have God’s will and his own.
And Satan is a control freak who’s parenting style too often mirrors ours.
If you’d be interested in listening to any of these episodes, I’ll provide links in the description.
So, if you haven’t deduced it yet, today we’re going to try to unveil the sinful parenting tendencies we have as illustrated by the choice of the Rich Young Ruler.
Before we begin, allow me to set the parameters for our metaphor.
The Rich Young Ruler had means. He had wealth and possessions. He could be compared to the men we studied in the Parable of the Talents. They were gifted of God to complete a task, but how they use their gifts and talents was going to reveal what they truly worshipped.
All of that to say, there is nothing wrong with being financially rich. There is nothing wrong with having knowledge and abilities. These are amoral concepts. The difference between sin and righteousness is how we choose to use our money, skills, knowledge, and other resources.
That is one of the fine points Jesus reveals in this account.
For our discussion today, though, the Ruler’s money is going represent a resource all Christian parents have. And — just like the Ruler — we’re going to have to decided whether or not we’re going to sacrifice it for the benefit of those in need or hoard it.
With that in mind, let’s consider the comparisons between our parenting and the historical account of the Rich Young Ruler.
1. God has given us children who want to know how they too can have eternal life.
The Bible says that no one seeks after God, but everyone is looking for a way to cheat death — a way to escape the consequences of our choices. That is the lifelong pursuit of the pagan.
Your children are born in search of comfort and happiness. They want to experience joys beyond their grasp and life beyond their backyard. They want something more. And they want something more because God created us to be worshippers.
But — as we know — there are only two possible recipients of our worship — God or we ourselves.
And it is the natural bent of our sinful flesh to want to worship self.
So, it’s due — in large part — to our selfish desire for self-gratification that mankind even goes looking for eternal life.
But when our kids come to us in search of this eternal happiness and joy and blessing and health and vitality . . . will be respond like the Rich Young Ruler or will we respond like Jesus?
2. God has given Christian parents riches beyond compare, and He expects us to pour it into our parenting.
Jesus had these riches. Jesus responded to the young man out of the riches He possessed.
But we too often, instead of responding like Jesus — pouring His riches on all Who ask — we don’t want to sacrifice our riches. It’s too hard. It’s too uncomfortable. And so we hide our riches away in a vault so that they’re no good to anyone.
3. The paradoxical reality is that — more often than not — parenting out of the riches of God will often result in children who reject the Gospel, but parenting out of the stinginess of self produces children who think they’re embracing the Gospel just fine.
How could such a thing happen? Why were the riches Jesus poured out not enough to convince the young man, and why would I suggest that stingy hoarding would lead our kids to believe they’re fine when it comes to eternal life?
It all comes down to understanding what our greatest resource really is.
So, let’s unveil our parenting riches — the riches Jesus Himself utilized in this scenario — and then walk back through the last three points.
The riches to which all Christian parents have access is the theme of our last show.
Defensible Parenting is parenting that roots itself deep in the Scriptures for our knowledge, understanding, and practical parenting application.
The metaphorical riches we’re discussing today — the riches that you have if you are a born again parent — are the boundless truth and majesty of the Bible.
Now, before we move on, I need to address why unbelieving parents do not have access to these riches even if they own a thousand copies of the Bible.
God’s Word can only be understood and used by Holy Spirit-filled followers of Christ. It’s the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God that enables us to comprehend and live in the truths we encounter in Scripture.
Satan tried to use the Bible against Jesus and failed miserably because he can’t even begin to understand the divine truths we mortals can access through the Holy Spirit.
That’s why I’m specifying that only truly born-again parents who are “in Christ” have access to these riches.
It’s not good enough to throw verses at our kids. It’s not good enough to interpret them however we feel. We must be able to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We need to be able to interpret and apply the Scriptures the way God intends, and we will never do that outside of God Himself.
Now, let’s work back through our three points:
1. God has given us children who want to know how they too can have eternal life.
This point remains unchanged. Regardless of whether or not I’m born again or whether or not my parenting is defensible, my children are on a life-long search for satisfaction. And — Lord willing — they will look to me for the answers.
Whether they ask outright, or whether I get to introduce them to genuine satisfaction as I watch them stumble toward experiences that will only hurt them, God has put me into my kids life to introduce them to Him and His life eternal.
Call it Evangelism Parenting, call it Deuteronomy 6 Parenting, it’s the highest calling we have.
But we all make a daily, moment-by-moment choice whether we’re going to sacrificially give our Scriptural riches away or whether we’re going to keep it from our kids.
2. God has given Christian parents riches beyond compare, and He expects us to pour it into our parenting.
Jesus told the young man Truth, and He did it in the most loving way possible. He helped the young man see that true satisfaction is only attainable through God. Eternal life requires perfection, but there is only One Who is perfect — that means that the Rich Young Ruler and everyone else are completely incapable of earning eternal satisfaction on our own. We are in a desperate state because we’re idolaters. Only through God — and completely through God — can we ever hope to experience eternal joy.
That was the most loving thing Jesus could tell His audience that day. There is nothing more important they all needed to hear.
All day, every day, our children ask us how they can have eternal life. Sometimes they actually ask it with their words, but most of the time their behavior betrays the fact that they’re selfishly living for their own pleasure. They may not be asking about it, but they are definitely looking for it.
We can either respond like Jesus, and consistently bring them back to Truth in love, or we can bury the Biblical riches at our disposal. We can do this in a number of ways:
Yet regardless of which tact we take, we’re ignoring the treasure trove of infinite wisdom in God’s Word. We’re refusing to give them the answers they really need.
Of course, our metaphor breaks down on this point. The Rich Young Ruler hoarded his riches for Himself; he didn’t want to give them all away lest he be left with nothing.
Unfortunately, when we refuse to give our kids the glorious golden answers of God, it’s not because we want to save them all for ourselves or that we’ll run out if we invest it in our kids. It’s also not a situation where we know how important the Bible is for us, but we hate our kids and don’t want to share.
A more accurate analogy is that we and our kids are starving for food. But instead of going to the storehouse of God’s Word for the sustenance needed to give us life, we ignore the cornucopia of biblical delicacies and we dig through the dirt of worldly wisdom looking for worms we hope will fill our stomachs.
That’s a more accurate portrayal of what we’re doing when we refuse to give our spiritual riches to the needy. We’re exposing ourselves as being equally needy.
So, why do the do this?
We do it for the same reason the Rich Young Ruler wouldn’t give away his riches. He believed that his money would bring him more satisfaction than the eternal life promised by God.
And we believe that ignoring our kids or making ourselves the motivation for our kids’ obedience or leaning on man’s understanding will give us more satisfaction than parenting in God’s Truth.
If we truly believed that parenting in Christ would not only provide our kids with absolutely everything they need for life and godliness, but it would also be a fountain of water springing up in our own souls . . . we would parent in Christ by using the Bible.
But we believe our way is best. We ignore the riches of God because we’re certain there’s a better way to parent.
Now, what about that last point. Do you remember that one?
3. Parenting out of the riches of God will often result in children who reject the Gospel, but parenting out of the stinginess of self produces children who think they’re embracing the Gospel.
The reality of this statement is another reason fewer and fewer Christian parents turn to the Bible for their daily parenting needs.
Allow me to explain it this way. If I can ignore my kids or I can get them to submit to my desires or I can manage my home on the superficial parenting methods of our day, then two things have happened: A. I’ve exercised only the smallest amount of parenting energy, and B. I’ve created an atmosphere that deceives me and my family that everything is okay.
I ignore my kids because I believe the issue isn’t big enough to address.
As long as I get my way as a parent, how bad can it be?!
When I snag the low-hanging, man-centered fruit of secular methodology, I’m actually encouraging my kids to worship self . . . which they are more than happy to do.
And everything seems fine. We can focus on dinner and soccer and watching moves and mowing the lawn because we’ve convinced ourselves that there are either no big issues with our kids or we believe we’ve addressed it enough.
From our kids’ perspective, if mom and dad are ignoring us, what we’re doing is fine. If I can just speak and act in a way that keeps dad and mom from giving me consequences, all is well. Of course, we love it when our parents use parenting techniques they leaned online because it gives us the freedom we want to live the way we feel is right.
And everything is fine.
And when we do that, we’re actually creating Rocky and Thorny-Hearted kids. We’ve all bought into the delusion that everything is just peachy.
But what happens when the Truth and Love of God’s Word comes into our lives?
It’s confusing to our Hard-Hearted kids. It convicting to our Rocky-Hearted kids, and it’s annoying to our Thorny-Hearted kids.
God created the Bible to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and train us, and those are difficult processes because they rub our sinful flesh raw and call us to follow Christ instead of self.
So, when Jesus poured out the divine riches of Truth in order to show the Rich Young Ruler that he could’t rely on his good works but instead needed to deny the false god of himself, he was saddened because he wanted eternal life on his own terms.
And Jesus watched him go.
Jesus could have told the man that he was just fine. He had kept “all” the commandments and didn’t need to do anything else. The young man would have been happy, and the two could have gone on to any other number of things because the spiritual issues were taken care of.
But it would have been false and hateful for Jesus to lie to him like that. But it was his choice to accept or reject the riches Jesus lavished on him . . . and he chose the latter.
When you invest biblical Truth into your kids, it will convict them. They may accept it, but they may also reject it.
I have a friend who recently did just that. I’ve been pouring God’s Truth and love into him for months, but he recently rejected it all.
I could have lied to him and told him that he was okay pursuing God on his own terms. He could have thought he had tight hold of a gospel that would help him sleep well at night.
But I loved God and him too much to do that . . . and he’s rejected God and me because of it.
We parent like the Rich Young Ruler when we refuse to use God’s Word in our parenting. When we don’t teach our kids from the Bible, reprove them with the Bible, counsel them in the Bible, and train them with the Bible, we’re disobeying God. We’re leading our kids away from life eternal, and we ourselves are refusing to act like someone who truly is born again.
Instead, let’s do the right thing no matter how hard it may be. Let’s parent like Christ. Let’s speak the Truth in love at every opportunity. Let’s not ignore sin. Let’s not set our own opinions and desires up as the most important standard for our kids. Let’s not waste our parenting opportunities spouting the godless lies of the world.
Let’s parent in Christ.
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And if you need specialized help with your marriage or family, please don’t hesitate to reach us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in the truth and love in God’s Word.
To that end, join us next time as we get into Season 16 and prepare to discuss some real-world, super-practical issues we and our kids are facing nearly every single day.
Among other things we plan to talk this Season about authority, ideas, injustice, racism, unity, and the government.
And we plan to apply God’s Word to every single one of them.
I’ll see you in Season 16, but before that, don’t forget to subscribe and listen to The Celebration of God.
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