James, the half-brother of Jesus and a leader of the church at Jerusalem, wasn’t impressed by what a person claimed to believe. He was more of an actions-speak-louder kind of guy.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)
Today’s young people are not unlike James in that way. They’re skeptical of anything that smacks of a double life. Genuine faith in Christ produces not perfection but a consistent life of real fruit. A heart transformed by the Gospel can’t be consistently faked.
In his book, Faith that Lasts: Raising Kids that Don’t Leave the Church, Jon Nielson offers five ways parents successfully model an authentic faith for their children:
- Church Life: Show an active, vibrant love for the church and explain why they do.
- Personal Devotion Time: Personal devotional commitment that is obvious and noticeable to children.
- God-Honoring Marriage: Demonstrate mutual respect, kindness and meekness. This is the closest relationship kids will observe daily.
- Humility and Repentance: Don’t hide personal mistakes and brokenness. Admit failures and ask for and give forgiveness.
- Sharing Jesus with Others: What does it say if we’re ashamed of Jesus outside the church and home?
Nielson explains that by modeling a genuine faith in Christ, parents avoid arming children with three common reasons for disillusionment as they become young adults:
- The Gospel made no difference in my parents’ lives.
- My parents acted one way at church and another way at home.
- They made the Christian faith about rules and restrictions.
Christian parenting begins with a personal faith in Christ that is lived out in devoted love for God. Like James, children need to see that real faith in action.
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18)