Sunday, August 27, 2006

How Can We Build a Biblical Faith in Our Children?

by Larry Rouse

When God blessed our family with children, my wife and I were determined to do one thing in this great stewardship that we had received. We wanted one day to give each of our children back to God. Nothing else in our relationship with them or in their personal accomplishments would mean anything when compared to this.

Sadly, as we look at church history and the example of Christians that we have known, a large number of disciples fail in this effort. The generation of God’s people that crossed the Jordan and took the promised land, were given specific instructions by God concerning the teaching of their children, even to the point of building a monument as a teaching tool (Deut 6:3-8; Joshua 7:3-8). How did that generation succeed? “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Parents Must Have a Strong Faith

We cannot instill in our children that which we do not have. However, when a child sees that his parents are serious about their love for God, their whole-hearted worship to God, and an everyday discussion about the God that knows them through and through, then that child will take notice. The instructions given to Israel to teach their children were preceded by the exhortation to: “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5-8). Just talking about religion, or depending upon the church to do your teaching, or simply “making them be faithful” by placing their bodies at church services are poor substitutes for a personal example of a living faith (James 2:18).

Never underestimate the power of a living faith in the life of a Christian. Timothy, like so many families, evidently had only one parent and one grandparent that were genuine Christians. Paul could attest to the great impact these two women had in Timothy’s life. “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

The example of one godly parent will leave a powerful voice in the conscience of a child that will never leave him. I can personally attest to the power of a mother that was determined to teach her children.

For those Christians that have not yet married, make it your uncompromising determination to marry a Christian. Let your home be like the home of John the Baptist, where there were two parents that were “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6).

Parents Must Teach Right From Wrong

Those who posses a Biblical faith understand the great need to “discern good and evil” (Heb 5:14). Satan, through his subtlety, can entice the young Christian into decisions that, over time, will place him in the wrong company and eventually enslave him into a practice of sin. How blessed is the child whose parents plainly teach him the difference between the “harmless” compromises of Satan and the less traveled way of righteousness (Matthew 7:13-14).

There will be times when our children’s faith will be tested. Here is when a godly parent will help his child to stand rather than search for a way to compromise. Sadly, I have seen parents and elders angry at the Christian who warns against the immodesty found in the “harmless” activities found in the modern day dance teams, cheerleading and many other popular activities. “You are persecuting my child” or “I do not want my child to be left out” are the fearful replies of some parents. These faithless “Christians” are denying their children an opportunity to stand and suffer for their faith and for what is right (Heb 11:35-38). It is in these kinds of battles of discernment that a real faith is developed.

Parents Must Have a Right Relationship with Each Other

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to demonstrate what a relationship based on the love of God is like. When a husband loves his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” and a wife “respects her husband” (Eph 5:25, 33), then a child is seeing a demonstration of what a relationship with God is like. When the love of God motivates the parents to serve each other, to demonstrate the longsuffering and forgiveness of God and, in that, provide an atmosphere of encouragement, then faith can abound (Eph 4:31-32).

Those homes where uncontrolled anger is a way of life will rarely produce children of faith. Alcoholism, drug addition, and chronic depression are common products of such an atmosphere. I have personally known of men that were highly respected in the church whose children later revealed that their father was a very different person in the home. It is no wonder why children from this kind of background “leave the church” at their first opportunity.

Parents Must Avoid the Schemes of Satan

When one posses a living faith, he is filled with optimism and zeal (1 Cor 13:4-8). Satan, if he cannot get you to compromise the truth, can simply take your focus away from the grace and power of Jesus Christ to magnify the bad things in life and major in talking about the faults of others. What do you talk about at lunch after services? Some Christians think that their “spirituality” is best demonstrated by always talking about the weaknesses of their brethren. While there is a place to see genuine weaknesses, we must be careful to be sure we are acting in love in order to help another, rather than in a spirit of pride to exalt ourselves and look down on others (Luke 18:9).

How can a child come to believe in a God who forgives and is longsuffering when he sees a very different example displayed in his parents? A living faith is nourished when we understand that our God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). This is the God that I willingly go to with my sins, my thoughts and my very life. Parents, what kind of God are you teaching your children about? Remember the true badge of discipleship: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). May your children see that spirit in you.

The Finish Line

It is my prayer that each of us as parents will one day see our children cross “the finish line” of a life of faithful service to God. Let it be that each of our voices and the memories of our lives be found in that great “cloud of witnesses” that cheer our children on to heaven (Heb 12:1-3).

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Blogger Troy said...

Thanks for your Godly words, you are a blessed man. I pray that more people will read and heed the Bible's teachings. God Bless You, and I do intend to go through your website completely for greater learning of the Great Words of God.

6:12 PM  

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