What would you consider the greatest gift that you could give your children? What would contribute most to his or her happiness, success and future? Would it be good health or material possessions such as food, clothing or shelter? What about the best education possible or financial security? Your personal love and devotion? All of these are obviously great gifts; however, there is a gift we can give our children that surpasses all of these. That is the proper knowledge and fear of God!
As a parent or grandparent, laying a solid spiritual foundation at an early age so he or she will come to know and honor God as Creator and Ruler is the most wonderful gift of all. How then do we give this gift? What means do we have to provide it?
Remember, our children are God’s heritage and occupy a special place in His plan. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3). The ultimate purpose God has in store for our children is to produce sons for His Family and to give them eternal life (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-2).
One of the most effective methods of teaching is by example. This is especially true in teaching young children to properly honor and fear God. It is imperative that you, as a parent, have an ongoing relationship with God and walk in obedience to Him. Children are very quick to pick up on hypocrisy, especially when they hear negative conversations. We cannot convert our children, but we can prepare them for God’s calling (John 6:44).
Some vital areas we should concentrate on in teaching our children to know and fear God are as follows:
1. Have regular family Bible study and prayer.
As children grow up and reach the age where verbal communication is possible, then it is important to establish daily (if possible) family Bible study according to their level of understanding. This doesn’t have to have a rigid time limit. The key is to make God’s Word simple and easy to understand.
A good place to begin with children is in the book of Proverbs. This book will show them practical applications of these golden nuggets of truth. Set a challenge to memorize certain proverbs and encourage them in that. Help them by asking questions; draw them into the study, arouse their interest, and excite their imaginations as much as possible. Build color into their thinking.
Avoid preaching at them or boring them with long-winded lectures. In many cases, this is vanity. In Bible study, do not just give them assignments and then go off and do your own thing—this must be family oriented. Ensure that you bring prayer into the study. When children are young, we have these opportunities to teach them to pray before they study and after. This teaches them to pray for themselves. It develops wonderful habits. Generally the father should lead in prayer, followed by the mother and then each of the children, kneeling together as a family.
2. Teach them through creation.
Children are naturally fascinated with the world around them. They become so ecstatic over a puppy, kitten or bug. This is a great time to counter the evolutionists they will eventually encounter in their lives. Point out that things do not just happen or evolve. A trip to the zoo or museum is a great way to bring this out. Look at insect or butterfly collections and note how many variations of species there are.
Take time to discuss these things on their level. Show them that God has a purpose in creation and that these things were created for our use and enjoyment and that we should be thankful to God for that. At the same time, teach them to look after their environment; later they will have their own (e.g. lawns to mow, gardens to keep). Teach them that God expects us to keep His gifts to man. God told Adam to “dress and keep” the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).
3. Pray for your children.
Commit them to God and pray for them every day. Remember the story of Hannah and Samuel. Pray that they will have teachable, humble attitudes and will be protected from the evil influences of this world and the wiles of Satan. Ask God to give you insight and discernment to detect any wrong attitudes or self-will that may be developing. Satan works hard at influencing your children’s minds and emotions (Ephesians 2:2).
4. Daily acknowledge your responsibility to your children.
Remember your responsibility to lay the groundwork and prepare your child’s mind to accept God’s call when it comes. Your training determines a great deal of his or her future. This takes time and patience, as well as God’s direction and spirit.
5. Teach them to have a proper conscience.
Strive to install in your children a consciousness of God. Teach them to do what is right even when you are not present to remind them. That means teaching self-discipline. Teach them that God knows about all of their actions—whether they are alone or with someone, and wherever they may be. Explain that God forgives sins, and instruct them to strive to please God every day.
What greater gift can you give God as a parent than children whom you have helped train to occupy a position of glory and honor in His Family? Daily give this gift, thinking on these things.