Loving God And The Things of God
We would like to help our children to love God and the things of God, cultivating godly attitudes and appetites, so let’s consider some practical ways to serve that purpose.
Three key areas can aid in this: personal modeling, church support, and environmental messaging. Let’s explore these three by focusing on younger children and older children.
Personal modeling appears multiple times in the Scriptures. Here’s one instance cited in 2 Timothy 1:5:
“[H]aving been reminded of the sincere faith that is in you, which lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, in you also.”
Here are some examples of personal modeling with younger children:
1. While looking at the pictures in a baby Bible board book, express immense enthusiasm whenever the picture features Jesus: “Look baby, it’s JESUS!!!” (Admittedly the artistic image does not truly depict Jesus, but at this point we’re teaching the attitude of appreciation of Jesus as worthy of worship.)
2. While organizing little books, exclaim “Look baby, this one’s a BIBLE!!!”
3. While preparing to head out the door to a church gathering (or preparing for a virtual church gathering), smile widely and announce, “Now we get to enjoy CHURCH!!!”
4. Similarly, express delight about prayer time, your own personal devotion time, your Bible, serving God, etc.
5. Whenever possible, show that your affections are fixed on Christ.
Next, let’s focus on church support.
In Hebrews 10:25 we read:
“[N]ot forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Church support can mean spending time with a Christian neighbor family, godly grandparents , or quite literally the Sunday School program at the local church. By surrounding our little ones with people who are actively praying for them and communicating the faith through Bible stories and songs, we’re establishing a pattern. Nurturing believers will provide attention, eye contact, smiles and help plant seeds of faith that will bear eternal fruit in the life of your child and all of the lives your child will influence.
How about environmental messaging?
Deuteronomy 6:8-9 instructs:
“You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”
Environmental messaging refers to the messages your little one sees and hears on a daily basis. For instance, does he open his eyes to a Daniel Tiger poster or a depiction of The Good Shepherd?
(Though it ought to be noted that I am actually mentioning Daniel Tiger because I do see those books/DVDs as relatively valuable when compared with other secular resources. You can add value by changing the words as you read to your child. Try this: “Then Daniel prayed, ‘Dear God, please help me to be kind to my family and friends. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.’ God answered Daniel’s prayer and reminded him of the Bible verse,
“And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Through the Holy Spirit, God helped Daniel. He can help you too. Grace and peace, neighbor! Amen and Amen!” [instead of “Ugga Mugga"])
I suggest making signs that say “JESUS” and placing them around your house. More wall art to consider includes: https://amzn.to/2X6XqPY and https://amzn.to/3lsOjBV. I put these, and others, on the walls in my home.
Now let’s consider older children.
Personal modeling is so vital.
1. Draw your child’s attention to your family’s stewardship of resources like time, money, and effort. Explain why choices are made. You may make statements such as, “Even though we could spend this afternoon at our local park, we’re choosing to go to this distant park to help an outreach team tell people about Jesus. This is what obedience to Jesus means for us today.”
2. Invite your children to pray and make stewardship decisions. You might ask, “Do you think that we should give this money, God’s money, to the church planters or to the Bible translators?”
3. Tell your children stories from your own walk with the Lord that will inspire faith and obedience.
In terms of church support, think carefully about who your children have meaningful relationships with.
Who is influencing their hearts? Which leaders do they admire? How about authors? Pray about inviting missionaries and other ministers to your home for a meal.
Environmental messaging can be subtle with perceptive older (or smaller!) children.
Notice what messages are in your home. On the table, is there a book about evangelism or about superheroes? What sorts of objects decorate your rooms? What messages are being communicated directly or indirectly?
Recently my family had the opportunity to spend time visiting relatives, but we needed to extend our stay and so a Messianic Jewish Rabbi's family very graciously provided a place for us for nearly a week. As a small token of gratitude, my husband helped the Rabbi to organize his home office. Of course, our 5-year-old wanted to be part of the excitement too! I felt so grateful to know that my son, who can read quite well, was sifting through titles like “Footsteps of The Messiah“ https://amzn.to/3jUZaEV.
In conclusion, I would like to encourage us to remember to be intentional as we communicate the gospel and its implications to our children.
We may want to share the truths of the gospel everyday, reminding our children, and ourselves, that Christ died for our sins and rose again. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 states it in this way:
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
Blessings in Jesus!