We tend to spend a lot of time, effort, money, and energy on our outer life. We fret about our physical appearance – how much we weigh, what flaws we have, and what the best angle is for a selfie that makes us look our best online. Our lifetime is spent further fretting over the car we drive, clothes we wear, house we live in, and possessions we own. This is all external stuff. This stuff does not satisfy us, save us, or soothe us.
Tragically, it is not uncommon for the news to erupt with a tale about someone who has everything great in their outer life – good looks, nice car, huge home, beautiful spouse, lavish vacations, adoring fans – but whose inner life is empty. Your inner life affects your outer life much more than your outer life affects your inner life. A peaceful soul, forgiven and loved by God, does more good than anything you could ever own, any achievement you could ever have, or any award you could ever earn.
Speaking about Jesus, Mark 12:28–31 says, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ ”
Jesus says that loving God is the most important of all human activities. This is what our soul was made to do. As we love God from our soul, we are then able to love our neighbor and help them to love God from their soul. This starts with our family, which is our closest neighbor.
Since parenting is about dealing with two souls, this verse has two implications.
First, the parents or primary caregivers must tend to their own soul first. Tending to the soul means maintaining a healthy diet of Bible reading, prayer, worship, giving, serving, and building healthy relationships with God’s people to remain in God’s presence.
Second, the parents or primary caregivers must tend to the souls of the children. This includes wisely and intentionally choosing a nutritious spiritual diet for them, as well. If the internal soul is nourished by relationship with God, the external life will begin to follow. This formula will not work the other way around.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), what is the condition of your soul? What is the condition of your child’s soul? What can be done to improve each of those scores starting in the next hour?