My wife and oldest son enjoy gardening. For the past few years they have dedicated a corner of our backyard to growing tomatoes, zucchini, peas, sunflowers, and a few other things. It’s a small garden project, but one that brings them much pleasure.
They started a compost pile and get excited to see the black soil formed from their efforts. My wife had a friend from church over for a composting party. They turned the compost, filtered the soil, and prepared the garden area. I didn’t know such “parties” existed. But they seemed delighted.
Today I was looking for Calvin inside the house. I didn’t find him, so I looked in the yard. He wasn’t in sight. I called out for him and he answered from around the corner of the house. He was in the garden.
“What are you doing? Oh, I see. You’re weeding.”
“It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?”
He nodded again.
“Tell me what you are growing here,” I said.
My son proceeded to tell me about the different varieties of tomatoes and other plants he was raising. I saw a sign for lettuce but nothing had sprouted there.
“The slugs ate the lettuce,” he told me.
I don’t know much about gardening but I’m happy my son and wife enjoy it. I like to listen as they discuss what to plant and where to plant it. They are happy when a plant does well. And I am happy when they are happy.
Although I don’t know how to plant a pumpkin, I do know it’s important to plant things. One of the things I want to plant is not something which gets put into the soil in a garden. I want to plant convictions into my children.
I suppose there is an analogy to gardening which might work. In order to plant conviction successfully, one needs to consider many factors.
First, what is the condition of the soil. Before attempting to form convictions in my children, it’s necessary for the soil of their souls to be prepared. Salvation, regeneration, the new birth, this is the first and most important factor. My children are dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2) until the Lord works by His Spirit to give them life. Once they have this life, they will be able to hear and understand Biblical teaching leading to proper convictions in a way they could not prior to salvation. My first priority in the formation of convictions is to proclaim the Gospel, to tell them of their need of a Savior, to press upon them the necessity of coming to Christ.
Second, water, sun, and food are important. Plants need food and water and so do the souls of my children. Photosynthesis takes place inside plants and turns light energy into chemical energy. Without water, and without sunlight, plants will die. My children, made alive in Christ, will shrivel inside if not constantly fed from the Word (I Peter 2:2). God has promised to sanctify those who belong to Him. In this work, He uses a variety of means.. One of the things God uses to cause young people to grow and mature is the instruction of parents. It’s my job to give them water from the work, to feed them daily from Scripture, and to put them in the path of life giving light. The light they need is light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (I Corinthians 4:1-6).
Third, planting isn’t enough. Gardens take maintenance and continuous weed management. The work isn’t done when my children profess faith and I’ve taught them a few things from God’s Word. There will always be work to do, things to teach, prayers to pray.
The analogy breaks down at some point. Gardens die and are replanted, but not children. They continue to grow spiritually. They will continue to need God’s Word, our advice, and our prayers as long as they live on earth. The Apostle Paul preached in order to present everyone mature in Christ. For this same purpose I desire to plant Biblical convictions in my children.