“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)
In my previous post, I discussed the importance of modeling an authentic biblical faith for our children. But “lifestyle evangelism” will not take our children very far at all. We also have to know and teach them Scripture if we want to experience the joy of knowing they are walking in the truth.
Know and teach them the Word of God.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
While this may seem obvious, we cannot overlook the importance of study and teaching of the Bible in the spiritual training of our kids. Through study of the Bible, we learn more about our desperate spiritual poverty and the riches of God’s infinite grace. We learn of our depravity and His sovereignty, of our weakness and His strength. We want to cultivate in our children and teens, and ourselves as well, a love for Scripture like David had:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 119:7-11)
Since we can take our kids no farther than we have gone, we must be dedicated to the study of Scripture ourselves. Whatever your role in the spiritual formation of a young person, please do not believe the lie that kids cannot or do not want to delve deeply into God’s word. In his classic book that every parent and children/youth worker should read, Spiritual Parenting, Spurgeon writes, “The opinion that children cannot receive the whole truth of the gospel is a great mistake, for their child’s condition is a help rather than a hindrance.” Our kids will go as deep as we are willing and able to take them. When we teach them to swim, don’t we encourage them by telling them how much better it will be when they are able to swim in the deep end? Spiritually, that’s where it’s at too – in the deep end. The goal of all of our spiritual formation activity with our kids should be to get them swimming in the deep end as soon as they are able. Children’s pastors and youth pastors, we need to equip our volunteers and the parents of our kids to handle the Word of God well. (2 Timothy 2:15) Parents, the work of making disciples of our kids and teaching them the Word is our job – not the job of our their pastor, sunday school teacher or small group leader. It’s not enough that they see us reading our Bible regularly, praying or attending church, although those are all important. It is the holy work of every Christian parent to insure that our kids know the Scriptures, which are able to make them “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)
Remember that teaching our kids is a right we earn by living a consistent Christian life. Our teaching will be meaningless to them if we are not consistently practicing what we are teaching. This is what Paul meant when he instructed Titus, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8) Don’t forget James’ warning that “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
In my next post, I will consider how we can help our children apply the truth of Scripture to their lives.