Parenting On Point Day 13: Raising a Child Is Raising a Soul

One of the most fascinating moments in a young child’s life is when they get to examine the world for the first time through the lens of a telescope or microscope. Do you remember your first time doing this as a child? The wonder explodes in a child’s mind as their imagination is opened up to the reality that the world is both bigger and smaller than they could have dreamed.

In addition to our outer world, we also have an inner world that is a mystery to explore. The Bible speaks of our inner life in terms of our soul. Unlike your visible body, your invisible soul cannot be seen through a microscope or a telescope. It is only seen by the God who made it.

God Himself is a soul. God the Father does exist, but not in a physical body like we do and Jesus did. God the Father speaks of His own soul, saying of Jesus in Matthew 12:18, “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.”

In Genesis 2:7, we read that we too were made by God with a soul: “The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Admittedly, human life is multifaceted and complex; for the sake of simplicity, the Bible here says that we – at the most basic level – have a visible physical outer life and an invisible spiritual inner life.
You do not just have a soul; you are a soul. This explains why even when your body dies, your soul does not. Your soul goes into the presence of the Lord until it is rejoined with the body and raised from the dead like Jesus. Speaking of Jesus’ soul, Acts 2:27 says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.”

The problem in our culture is that we have replaced the soul with the self. The soul that was made by God and for God is now disconnected from God and replaced with the self. When it comes to helping people, including raising children, our culture tragically has no concept of the soul. In his book “Soul Keeping,” John Ortberg even noted that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders never once mentions the soul. To really help people, we need to help the whole person, including the soul, which integrates all of the aspects of a person together.

There are two main takeaways here:

  1. You have a soul. Your soul was made by God and for God. You are the keeper of your soul. Nothing in your outer life matters as much as your soul, and nothing in your outer life will be healthy unless your soul is healthy. How healthy is your soul?
  2. If you are a parent, you are not just raising a child; you are raising a soul. Apart from a loving relationship with God, you cannot do much good in raising that soul. Jesus said exactly this, explaining what He says is the most important thing in all the world in Mark 12:30–31, “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…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Just as the body needs air, so the soul needs love. It is God’s love that we cannot live without spiritually. It is God’s love that our soul needs to receive so that we can then teach our neighbor – starting with our own child – to love God from their soul in response to His love for them from His soul.

Are you doing a better job tending to your outer life or your inner life? Are you doing a better job tending to your child’s inner life or outer life?

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