Several years ago, my wife was shopping at a discount bookstore. While she was busy looking at volumes, our three-year-old daughter came running over with a book in her arms, saying, “I like this one, Mommy. Can I have it?”
Much to my wife’s surprise, it was a Bible! She wanted one so that she could be like her father and mother and bring her own to Sabbath services. It pleased us to know that she wanted to follow our examples.
All parents have a responsibility to teach their children God’s way of life. It is an enormous blessing to grow up in the truth. As parents, however, we can either squander that blessing or use it to lead our children in the right direction.
Growing up in the Church, I had friends who sat in as many services as I did, listened to all the sermons, completed the children’s lessons, and attended youth Bible studies. But they did not stick with the truth. Why did they not “get it”?
Now that I am a parent, I often think about this same principle and how it applies to not only my family, but to all parents. How can we make sure our children do not follow the path my friends did? Even more important, how can we ensure that they understand that living the right way is the only way of life to choose?
God expects us to teach our children His laws. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses instructed all of Israel to keep “the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments” of the Lord (vs. 1). In verse 7, parents are told to “teach them diligently” unto their children. Today, those in the Church, as “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15-16), are to keep this same command.
Yet this responsibility goes much further than having our children simply memorize the Ten Commandments.
The entirety of Deuteronomy 6:7 makes this clear: “And you shall teach them diligently unto 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 up.”
Morning, noon and night, we are to teach our sons and daughters God’s ways! Instructing them in godly principles is an active command. God actually calls not doing so a sin.
Before we can properly teach our children, we must be “living the Book” and giving God’s Way top priority in our lives. How much do we appreciate His values? What importance do we place on our Christian calling and understanding the truth? What about fellowshipping with His people, being a part of His Work, and supporting His ministry?
Realize that our children have special access to God because we as their parents have His Spirit dwelling in us (I Cor. 7:14). If we neglect to exercise it and grow, we cut ourselves off from Him—which means we will be unprepared and incapable of teaching our children. In the long run, failure to properly instruct our children negatively affects how God works with them later.
Therefore, we must stir up the Holy Spirit through diligent personal Bible study, by obeying the commands God’s Word contains, and resisting Satan’s attitudes. When the Spirit fills our minds and we count Christian life as a joy, we set up our children to emulate us later in life.
The apostle Paul noticed this in Timothy’s family: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also” (II Tim. 1:5).
As parents, we live in glass houses. Our children watch our every move and learn from our examples even at an early age. We should be examples to our children that God’s Way works—that it brings peace, joy, happiness and abundance. Christian life was never intended to be a burden (John 10:10).
If we are to teach our children to obey God, we must with every fiber of our being believe and live the truth!
When teaching our children, we should keep it simple. One of the most basic principles for them to learn is about the two trees in the Garden of Eden—the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—which represent two ways of life: the give way and the get way.
With the Holy Spirit, we are able to tell the difference between these opposing ways of life. With God’s help, we can more wisely choose the way that leads to joy, cooperation, mutual respect, and peace.
James 3 describes both ways. First, there is get: “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish [of Satan]. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (vs. 14-16).
Verses 17-18 show the fruits of the way of give: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
At every opportunity, teach your children to recognize these two distinct ways. Get brings “confusion and every evil work.” Give brings “peace.”
Everyday occurrences can be turned into teaching points: squabbles between playmates, following rules, thinking of others, telling the truth, respecting another’s property, and so forth. Such a list could almost be endless.
Teach your children that blessings result from obeying God. For example, God always tells the truth. If your child does the same, he will earn the trust and respect of his teachers and friends.
By your example, show him that “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no” (Matt. 5:37). Through consistently displaying respect and proper affection, your children’s hearts will turn toward you.
God wants us to obey and respect Him, and we want to see the same attributes in our children.
Family Bible Study
Family Bible studies are perfect occasions to teach our children about God’s Way. Notice: “Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Make this a regular part of your family life. Set aside time on a consistent basis for the family to sit down together and learn from God’s Word.
Make lessons fun and exciting to maintain your children’s interest. Relate biblical examples to their everyday lives. However, do not fictionalize biblical characters just to hold their attention. Tell them exactly what the Bible says. Give them a realistic, mature and serious view of God’s Word.
Use the Bible itself and the resources provided by the Church, such as the Children’s Bible Lessons and The Story of the Bible series. Most other sources are unscriptural and put false ideas into our children’s minds. These “helps” do not teach the true purpose of life and are generally focused only on entertaining.
In the course of teaching your children about the Bible, always emphasize an overarching, foundational principle: obedience to God produces blessings and happiness; disobedience and rebellion bring punishment and unhappiness.
Our God is both loving and caring. He left clear instructions on how we are to diligently and frequently teach our children His commandments (Deut. 6:7). It is our responsibility to carry out this command!
Remember, before you begin teaching your children, you must be a living example of God’s way of life. Just as ancient Israel was to be an example to the world that God’s Way is the only one that works, we should set that same example for our children.
When it comes to teaching your child God’s Way, remember to keep it simple. There are two ways of life: the give way leads to happiness, peace and joy. The get way leads to suffering, pain and strife.
Our families are a small example of God’s great and awesome plan for all of mankind. The more effective we are at properly training them, the better we will maximize their opportunity to one day be called into His Church.
Mr. David C. Pack’s unique book Train Your Children God’s Way is the go-to guide for understanding the right way to rear children. It contains revealed knowledge—straight from the Bible—about topics such as instilling all-important character in young ones, helping them set goals and build proper relationships, explaining God’s Plan to them, nurturing their talents, and developing their potential, among many other subjects.
Think of how you will feel to one day see your children, as adults, applying the godly principles you taught them—and reaping the awesome blessings that come from them. Imagine the discussions you might have about the times you spent together, learning, living and teaching God’s way of life.
To do your part in making this a reality, teach your children God’s Way!