OceanSide church of Christ
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TRAINING CHILDREN SPIRITUALLY
Victor M. Eskew
Children are God’s gift to parents. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Ps. 127:3). Children should be seen as the property of the God of heaven. They have been entrusted to their parents by Him. Parents are guardians. Parents are stewards of those precious little souls.
God wants His little ones trained so they will come to know Him, fellowship Him, and love Him by obeying His commandments. He places the obligation of spiritual training upon the parents. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament exhort parents to bring up their children with a knowledge of God’s will. In one of his last addresses to Israel, Moses spoke these words: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto they children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6-7). In the New Testament, it was Paul who exhorted fathers to take the lead in the spiritual development of their children. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
Most godly parents feel the weight of this spiritual responsibility. The question that constantly plagues their mind is: “How do we instill God’s Word into our children?” Most begin by bringing their children to Bible classes and to the worship services. This is an excellent start. Their children are assured of at least 2-1/2 hours of instruction each week. However, this just isn’t enough. There must be more instruction if our children are really going to be educated in divine truth. In the remainder of this article, we want to give some suggestions that can enable parents to accomplish this objective.
First, parents must develop a deep desire to teach and train their children. A faint wish is not enough. There must be an unquenchable yearning within the parents to teach their children sound doctrine. This desire will drive them. It will enable them to meet and conquer every obstacle. Timothy’s mother had such a desire. Paul reminded his young son in the faith “that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15). He knew the scriptures because his mother and grandmother wanted him to know them (II Tim. 1:5).
Second, parents must put forth the necessary effort to train their children. The knowledge that parents have of God’s will is not inherited by the child at birth. Too, they do not get this knowledge just by being in their parent’s presence. There has to be a conscious effort put forth to impart wisdom, knowledge, and discretion into their children. Parents you will have to teach. You will have to sit down with your children regularly to instruct them in the sacred text. What Paul told Timothy is also applicable to parents: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2).
Third, parents will need a plan of instruction. Unfortunately, there are not many, if any, daily plans of instructions for parents in print. This, however, does not relieve the parent from his/her obligation to teach. It only makes the job more difficult. Parents have to pick the subjects their children will be taught. They have to select the verses to be studied. They have to develop the lesson content. They have to make the application to the lives of their children. This will involve diligent study. This is the “hands on” part of training children. It is where “the rubber meets the road.” Three hundred sixty-five days involves a lot of lesson plans. The questions are: “What do I want my child to know?” And: “What will I teach my child today?”
Fourth, there must be set times and places for Bible instruction. Public schools have curriculums and set times and schedules for classes. They understand that instruction must be regular. It cannot be haphazard. Here a little and there a little will not get it. For some, mornings will be the best time for study. For other families, the afternoon or evening hours are best. Try to keep in mind that your children are only with you for a short time. It is imperative to give heed to Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:16: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
The purpose of this article is not to frighten parents. Our intent is to encourage them to become spiritual teachers and mentors to their children. There is great reward for all those who do an effective job in teaching. Their children will become Christians. They will serve God faithfully. They will teach their children God’s Word. They will pass from this life with a great hope in Christ Jesus. Most of our children may not enjoy their present training, but they will praise you for your efforts when they become adults and are challenged with the struggles of life and the wiles of the devil. Thus, we exhort all parents to give diligence to the spiritual training of their children.