We’re going to wrap up our study of Sharing the Good News this week by looking at what it takes to be a good spiritual parent.
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. (1Co 4:14-17)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Ti 1:1-2)
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. (Tit 1:4)
Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: (Phm 1:9-10)
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Gal 4:19)
Many Teachers, One Parent
Throughout his writings, Paul spoke of those he has led to Christ as his spiritual children. He warned the Corinthians as his “beloved sons.” He wrote to Timothy and Titus as “my own son.” Paul obviously had a sense of relationship to and responsibility for his spiritual offspring.
Paul’s attitude is quite a contrast to those who think their only job is to get a lost soul to pray the sinner’s prayer. They consider their job over when someone receives Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s as foolish as thinking your job is over when your child is born in the hospital. As every parent knows, that’s not the end of your work, it’s just the beginning. Others help in the process, but you are most responsible for the welfare of your children, physically and spiritually.
Helping in Every Way
All of the Bible passages you read today were written by a concerned spiritual father to his children in the faith. Paul warned, beseeched, and offered himself as an example for the Corinthians. He sent Timothy to help them when he couldn’t be there himself. We wrote letters to Timothy and Titus, telling them how to do what God had called them to do. He addressed problems in their lives and challenged them to be all that God called them to be. When Paul led Onesimus, the runaway slave, to Christ, he wrote to his master, Philemon, to restore and improve their broken relationship. Though he led many Galatians to Christ, he said, “I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” He want to lead them to Christ and make them like Christ.
You know relationship and responsibility for others is not easy. It takes work and it can drain you physically and emotionally. But this is the pattern of parenting the Bible gives us. We are called to make disciples (Mat 28:18-20), not just converts. It’s better to win a soul than to not win a soul. It’s best to make a disciple.
What About You?
- Are you a disciple, a learner-follower of Christ, or a convert?
- Do you disciple those you win to Christ, or abandon them like spiritual orphans?