This parent (or any family member) theme brings up a question: Isn’t it prideful to pray, tithe, serve, etc. in front of our children? Aren’t we told to hide what we do for the Lord?
These questions often come about from such passages where Jesus says:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
We incorrectly interpret Jesus if we understand him to be only laying out behavioral guidelines in this passage. It’s important that we read these verses in the context of where they are and not isolate them in a way that misrepresents the teaching. If we read carefully, we note that Jesus speaks very specifically in qualifying his words in these two sections by referring to the reason we do it: “to be seen by them [others]”. What Jesus is bringing up is having the right motives. Are we doing things to draw attention to our self? To appear religious or holy in front of others?
As Deuteronomy 6 describes, teaching about faith is important but so is living it out, particularly for children. Seeing teaching expressed in life, children will learn from example. To always hide the expression of living our faith in Christ creates a false message. So, with the right motives of living a God-glorifying life, your children see what following Jesus looks like. With the right motives, we can give a tithe to the church, pray, serve the needy, give to a ministry, and so on in front of our children without contradicting Jesus’ teaching or point of the above verses.
Seeing an example in how one engages in a life of following God can also be used by the Holy Spirit to help children toward the goal of being conformed to the image of Christ and to learn about who God is in the midst of life. In fact, the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christ-follower/Christian is to bring about right actions with right motives.
So don’t be afraid to live a faith-full life in front of your children but take a moment to pray about your motives: Is it for you to look good or is it for God and his kingdom?
THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION: (Join the conversation below in the “Comments” link.)
- How do you nurture/keep your motives pure/focused on God when living out your faith outwardly?
- What did you observe, experience or learn from your family activity this week?
FOR NEXT WEEK:
Read Chapter 3—The Child Makeover.
 Matthew 6:1-4
 Matt. 6:6
 Romans 8:29