Having a newborn in your home is a marvelous thing. To look into that tiny face and realize that you have been given this gift is nearly overwhelming. Just a few short months ago this person wasn’t on the planet, and now he is in your arms. The weight of the responsibility far exceeds the little bit of effort it takes to lift him from his crib. Everything about him is life, newness, and precious.
For parents who choose to raise their children to follow the teachings of their faith, it is no small undertaking. Our society is often referred to as “postmodern,” meaning, in an extremely simplified definition, that much of our world has stepped away from formerly traditional values of preserving life, the sanctity of marriage, life-balance, and faith. Even inside the church, once traditionally held views on many hot-button issues have swayed to the left, leaving conservatives scratching their heads and wondering how things got this far down the road.
Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy chapter three that “people will have the appearance of godliness” but deny its power. Verses 2-7 spell out a list that looks as though it could be cut from today’s headlines. If we’re not careful, the condition of society can leave us feeling weary, discouraged, and frustrated. But, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Clearly Paul’s list to Timothy and our Facebook newsfeeds prove that over and over.
How can we teach our children about faith?
I recently heard some Christian radio hosts ask a question to their audience about how to teach children the Bible without the entertainment aspect that we’ve come to expect through church programs like Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and other events provided by the church. Is it even possible to get kids to listen to the Word of God, much less internalize it? If we go on the premise that there is “nothing new under the sun,” then we have to believe that just as children have learned Scriptures down through the centuries without the help of entertainment, then the logical answer is, yes, children can learn, memorize, and apply God’s Word. Just like Timothy learned from infancy, as we read in 2 Timothy 3, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” our kids can learn the Bible by practicing some time-proven methods.
Consider that Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, would have had only what we refer to as the Old Testament for teaching their boy. I love the first part of the Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” This is a Jewish prayer that is recited twice each day and on other occasions, along with the other two parts of the prayer (Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41). This prayer was offered when my husband and I dedicated our eldest daughter to the Lord when she was an infant, and it impacted me greatly.
As Jewish women, certainly Eunice and Lois recited these and other verses to young Timothy, realizing the impact and promise behind them. I like to think they told him of the great Old Testament leaders such as Noah, Moses, and David. They must have shared with him the warnings and promises issued by God’s prophets Samuel, Jeremiah, Micah, Jonah, and others. I wonder if Timothy and his friends played “David and Goliath” or listened in awe about Daniel being rescued from the lion’s den? Did these ladies have Scripture printed on their doorposts or perhaps even on the walls of their homes?
How to simplify Biblical teaching in your home…
Teaching children Scripture doesn’t have to be complicated or chockfull of entertaining highlights. It simply needs to be done as outlined in these verses. It’s a daily rendering of Scriptures and God’s truths in everyday situations. Is your child frightened about going to bed at night? Share Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Is your child focused on negative thoughts about himself or someone else? Teach her Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Perhaps your daughter doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. This is a great opportunity to remind her of her worth and beauty to God by discussing Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time…” and 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Maybe these verses will help her understand the depth and reality of both outward and inward beauty.
There are so many other examples that can be shared! The Bible encompasses all wisdom and direction for any situation in life. There is no topic to which Scripture isn’t relevant. Perhaps if we considered the simple idea of quoting Scripture to our children and allowing them the opportunity to live out the principles, as well as see us living them out, then the Word would become ingrained in their hearts and minds. We could literally have Bible verses on the walls of our homes, encourage our children to spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading by assisting them when they are young and teaching them as they grow older.
We can’t miss the fact that not only did Eunice and Lois teach Timothy Scripture from the time he was a baby, but he also saw the two most influential women in his life live a Godly life. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1, “ I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” This is the apostle Paul commending the way in which Timothy was raised—in a home where faith was lived out, modeled, and taught. Timothy became the third generation of believers in his family, and his mentor then tasked him with preaching the Gospel.
There’s nothing wrong with entertaining children while teaching them Scripture. Any educator will tell you that making learning fun is a plus. But we must be careful not to assume that Biblical teaching should come from the church alone, relying fully on church programs and leadership to expose our children to our faith…thus missing the opportunity to teach them ourselves. Primarily, though, let’s never forget the Biblical mandate of teaching our children the Word of God simply and consistently.
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