Encouraged by God’s Grace

2 Kings 23:25 “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.”

There is a note of sadness in this verse that I mentioned last week. By God’s grace, Josiah defied his upbringing and the corrupt culture around him to follow the Lord God, and his obedience was unlike all the kings who came before him, even his great ancestor, David, of whom it was said he was a man after God’s own heart. But the verse also says that no other kings arose after him with a comparable devotion to the Lord, and sadly, his own sons rebelled against his godly influence and pursued the same wickedness that characterized their grandfather and their great-grandfather. Jehoahaz became king at his father’s death, and in 2 Kings 23:32 we read, “he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father’s had done.” And after only 3 months as king, he was deposed by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt and replaced by his brother, Eliakim, whose name was changed to Jehoiakim. Like his brother, he also did evil in the LORD’s sight (v.37). Why is it that this godly man, Josiah, failed to pass his faith down to his sons?

I must admit there are many times when I feel like a failure as a parent. My children exemplify traits that I see in myself, sinful tendencies and character weaknesses, and I know that I have taught my children by my own, less-than-stellar example. Having talked with other parents, I know that my experience is not necessarily unique. We all serve as imperfect examples to our children, and too often we imagine that if we could just be better, then they would be better, or we look at those parents whose children have “turned out right,” and we think that they must have done something right, as opposed to those who have raised rebels who have left the faith. But when I read passages like 2 Kings 23, I am encouraged.

“Encouraged?” you might ask. “If someone as devoted to the Lord as Josiah couldn’t even raise one child to continue serving the Lord after his death, then what hope do I have? I am certainly no Josiah, so my children are probably already doomed!” But that is looking at this in the wrong way. To think that way is to forget the one key component in the spiritual development of every one of our children – the wonderful grace of God. Any success one of us has in raising our children to love and serve the Lord can only be credited to the grace of God. This doesn’t make me feel any better about my own character flaws, and I continue to pursue righteousness and true holiness, but it does help relieve the pressure of thinking that I must be perfect, or at least be the perfect parent if my children are to grow up to love and serve the Lord. Rather than trust in my own parenting skills or my ability to practice the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Parents, I can pray that God will pour out his grace in the lives of my children. In fact, I pray for my children, that the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin and of Christ’s righteousness, so that they will receive God’s gracious gift of salvation, and I am glad that their salvation does not depend on me but on the matchless grace of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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