“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word” (Psa. 119:9). It is a rather basic concept and an easy Sunday School answer. The more difficult task is answering the “how to.” I would like to propose four things to help us with the day-to-day of raising children toward a secure relationship with God.
Education is a key factor in this process. Not just any education, but an education in God’s word. This is not about lectures and quizzes. It’s about answering questions with Bible answers. There are two times that God specifically mentions answering children’s questions. One was concerning the Passover (Ex. 12:26), and the second was about the twelve stones by the river Jordan (Josh. 4:6). God knows children will ask questions, and He wants us to use those moments to teach. Likewise, God said that the commands that He has written on “your hearts, you shall teach them diligently to your sons” (Deut. 6:6-7). Note that it must first be in our hearts and that it must be taught with diligence.
When our children see it first in us we are able to example right behaviors and attitudes to them. Before children are able to understand our speech, they observe and mimic our actions. Joshua took up the mantel in saying, “as for me and my house…” (24:15). Likewise, we must take the lead in this area. Paul said it this way, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Are we living in such a way that we could say that to our children?
We also need to encourage right behavior. That is done through discipline and reward. “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Prov. 13:24). This is a principle that is always true. The same concept was repeated in Hebrews 12:6-11. Discipline is love in action. It is because of our love that we correct and prepare our kids for a life without us and with Him. It is our responsibility to bring our children up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
At some point children must begin to make the choice for themselves to embody the faith that they have been taught (2 Tim. 1:5). They will come to an age when they must make the choice for themselves (Tit. 2:6-8; Rom. 13:14; Eph. 4:23-24). It is not easy to watch them make or not make these choices. Forcing faith is not an option either. We, as parents, must do all we can to educate, example, and encourage. It is up to them to embody it. Let these words from Paul help us as parents: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).