King David did a lot of things wrong. Seriously. A LOT of things. God, however, called David a man after His own heart. One thing David understood fully was sacrificing for the Lord.
In the 24th chapter of 2 Samuel, David needs to offer a sacrifice to God. After all, he’s sinned by ordering a census, and now people are dying. David needs to repent, and a blood sacrifice is necessary, so he hikes up to Araunah’s place and asks to buy the threshing floor to build an altar. Araunah the Jebusite offers to give David his threshing floor, oxen and everything David needs to build an altar. After all, this is the king we’re talking about.
“I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” (vs.24, ESV)
That statement is a fantastic way to view parenting. Raising thinking kids requires self-discipline and genuine sacrifice. We live in a society sometimes compared to Corinth, others to Sodom and Gomorrah. Leaving our children to navigate the world alone is akin to handing them an oar, a canoe and a map and sending them down the rapids alone.
Our children each come equipped with their own personalities, gifts, liabilities and hearts. God has determined a path for each child. Our job as parents is to mold each child without shattering them. We are called to continually point our children to the Lord.
In Deuteronomy 6:5-9, God commands us:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Admittedly, that’s a whole lot of work. Parents are commanded to teach children, over and over, the ways of the Lord. We can’t rely on the teacher, the Sunday School, the pastor, the television, the radio or countless little friends to do our job for us.
We are bestowed with the honor of sacrificing our own time, money, effort and heart to raise thinking children with hearts full of Jesus and minds full of Scripture. Sometimes, that sacrifice is difficult. Others, it’s downright painful. Ultimately, we do it knowing we are offering up our lives to a living God.
In short, there’s no sacrificing the neighbor’s cow.
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Note: This post is republished from October 25, 2010. Also, “I will not offer to the Lord that which has cost me nothing” has become my own personal motto–something which I cling to when life gets hard, and which I repeated to myself often through the years of writing Bible Road Trip. Also, Araunah’s threshing floor is where Solomon built the Temple.
More Thoughts on Parenting
Image: The White Cow, c.1895, Paul Sérusier (1864-1927), Public Domain
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.