The fear of the Lord is your refuge

Posted on · Posted in Godward Orientation, Parenting

Your middle-schooler wants to hang out with friends that are not a good influence for her. She is unhappy. 

Your teenager is frustrated with restrictions that you believe are wise. He thinks you are being unfair and has no problem letting you know about it.

In response, you don’t want to communicate you are ultimate authority. You just want to be a safe refuge for your kids. But you know the choices your children make are not always the best ones. And you know that God has tasked you with the responsibility of leading your children to follow his word. You know that is what is best for them. You know that parenting is not about you and what you want. Your goal is to humbly demonstrate that you are motivated by the fear of the Lord.  

The bottom line for you as a parent is that you are doing the right thing for your children in the way that you care for them. But there is a problem. It seems almost no one can agree about what is the best way to care. It is easy to be overwhelmed in the flood of helpful, yet frequently contradicting information about how to be a good, caring parent. 

The Holy Spirit comes to you with clear instruction about what is the place of security and refuge for your family. Here is what he says in Proverbs 14:26-27: this speaks of real security for your family.  

He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
and for his children it will be a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.

Solomon repeats his core message, the fear of the Lord is the place of security. The holy, healthy fear of an awesome God who forgives sins is the bedrock of your life. If you honor your children, yourself, friends or experts more than you fear and honor your God, you will reap a bitter harvest of uncertainty that is anything but stable.  

The first verse in this couplet says that security flows from the fear of God and that this security is passed down to children. This means as a parent your first concern must be what will bring honor to God. Children are ill equipped to be reliable guides about what is good for them. That much is obvious.  As Bruce Waltke comments,  “Since evil not only attacks but attracts, a parent must know and show his family something stronger and better.“ This is why parenting can’t be about what makes you or your children happy. 

But if you start with the fear of the Lord you will bring stability and security to your family.  This means you make your decisions, your goals for parenting centered on the things that God has said are wise. That means your children don’t make the final decisions, it means you don’t make the final decisions. Rather you make your decisions based on what God says is wise. It means the gospel and not rules form the basis of your parenting. It means you parent in the conscious, awesome fear of God. This is the only true refuge for you and your children.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.