Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear… Imitation is a far stronger principle with children than memory. What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told.
As a tree bringeth forth first leaves, then blossoms and then fruit, so a good Christian ought first to bring forth good thoughts, then good speeches and afterward a godly life, to the honour of God and the good of his children.
We are the bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world are reading, we are the sermons the world is heeding.
It is an awesome, challenging thought. The Lord comes to us in our friends. What we do and are to them is an expression of what we are to Him.
We do not develop habits of genuine love automatically. We learn by watching effective role models – most specifically by observing how our parents express love for each other day in and day out.
Parents, you will teach your children more by scheduling regular times to nurture the relationship between husband and wife than you would ever teach them through a lecture on committment. Although it is important for you pray to for your child, seeking the Lord for that perfect spouse for them, it is equally important that you teach them through your example how to cherish the future gift of a companion that the Lord has in store for them.
You, too, are called to be an open letter, as Paul puts it, written by Christ’s own hand, showing those round about you what things Christ can do. We are to go into the world and so to live our ordinary lives that, all unconsciously to us, those among whom we move will look at us again, and will begin to say, You know I used to doubt if there was much in Christianity save talk. But I have revised my opinion. There’s So-and-so (that’s you, you understand), that is a man in whom the thing is obviously working out. He used to be so touchy, so opinionative, so mean and shabby in his views, so dully ordinary. Yet now, undoubtedly, the man has won to self-control and a large generous mind, and – yea, I know it’s a queer thing to say – but he has won to something more, something that somehow (though he never speaks about those things) makes you remember Jesus Christ!
I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.
God has arranged it so that we are the only Bible that some people will ever hear. If we proclaim the message of the Cross in the power of the Spirit, Jesus will do the rest. Paul wrote, “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tables of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3). spiritual growth is important not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others who will be changed through the message we carry.
God desires us to live as close as we can to the life that Jesus Christ lived. That is the broad avenue to perfect happiness. Most of us know by experience that in proportion as we have followed Him, we have found happiness. And we know by still larger experience that as we turn away from Him the world gets dark, and life ceases to be worth living.