By Micky Galloway
Israel was commanded to teach their children (Deut. 6:6ff, 20ff). They were to teach them the law of God, to know God, and to fear him (Deut. 31:9-13). The observance of the Passover was to be a means of reminding their children of the great works of God (Exod. 12:24ff). So also were the twelve stones that Joshua set up in Gilgal as a memorial of God parting the Jordan River so that the people could enter the land of promise (Josh. 4:20ff). They were to teach their children so that they would not forget God (Deut. 6:10ff). This involved talking with their children as well as teaching by their example. Yet, we read in Judges 2:10, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.”
We also are to teach our children. “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). In a world where the minds of our children are influenced by the degenerate teaching of worldly minded people, we must ask, “What are we teaching our children?”
What Are We Teaching Our Children About God?
God is the creator of heaven and earth and as a divine creator he possesses all the attributes of deity (Gen. 1:1). As the apostle Paul declared the one, true God unto the Athenians in Acts 17, he declared that even though they worshiped in ignorance, God had made them to “seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us”(v. 27). The Athenians were then commanded to repent, implying that they were account-able to God even though they were ignorant of God (vv. 30-31). Whatever they were doing, it was displeasing to God and they needed to repent. Yes, they were under law to God or they would need no repentance (cf. Rom. 4:15).
Paul spoke of the goodness and severity of God (Rom. 11:22). God’s goodness is manifested in the sending of his Son to die for the sinner (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8). His severity is also revealed by Paul when he said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11; cf. Heb. 10:26-31). Examples of God’s righteous indignation are numerous. It is this righteous God of goodness and severity before whom we all stand and give an account of our lives (Rom. 14:11-12). Let us speak of him with honor and reverence that our children might learn to fear him and love him (Psa. 111:9).
What Are We Teaching Our Children About Jesus
As the Son of God?
His coming fulfilled prophecies that were made from the beginning, revealing the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus (Gen. 3:15; 12:1-3; Eph. 3:10). Even his conception was a miracle (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25). He came to offer salvation to a lost and dying world (Matt. 1:21; Lk. 19:10; I Tim. 1:15). What do we teach our children about why Jesus died? Oh yes, he died for our sins, but why was it necessary for Jesus to die for our sins? Do we teach our children how horrible sin is, to require the blood of Jesus? Do we teach them that the justice of God is seen in this sacrifice (Rom. 3:23-26)? Unfortunately, all that many children hear about Jesus is when something tragic occurs and the name of Jesus is uttered as a byword.
What Are We Teaching Our Children About the Bible?
It is the most wonderful and most available book in our age. Its message is from the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:10ff; cf. Jn. 12:49-50). It contains the words of life (Jn. 6:66-68; cf. Jn. 12:49-50). That word was delivered unto the apostles and recorded by them upon the pages of the New Testament (Jn. 17:8,14,18; Eph. 3:3). This message is all sufficient and complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jude 3). It is revealed in such a way that it is understandable (Eph. 3:3; 5:17). We are commanded to read it, study it, and teach it unto others (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:2).
Do our children see us spending time with this wonderful book? Do they hear it read and taught in our homes? Do they perceive our reverence and respect for the words of Almighty God? I will never forget the words of sister Lena Hope (wife of brother B.G. Hope). She said that while her children were just babies, she would tell them that the big old book on the table in the living room (the family Bible) was God’s book. It was different than their story books. It contained the words of God. Perhaps we are just too busy to impress upon young minds the importance of understanding the words of God. Yes indeed, we are teaching our children about the Bible.
What Are We Teaching Our Children
About Their Purpose In Life?
Ecclesiastes 12 teaches that children are to “remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” If parents are not living lives before their children emphasizing that their purpose in life is to “fear God and keep his commandments, ” how can we expect children to realize the purpose for living and remember the Creator (Eccl. 12:13-14)? It takes time to obey God’s commandments. Considering that life is short and time is limited, many have so misconstrued their values that they do not have time to visit or teach or pray or study (Jas. 4:14-16). These are so busy “making a living” that they don’t have time to make a life for themselves or their families. When we diligently lay up treasurers on this earth and we believe that our lives consist of what we possess, be not deceived, we are teaching our children the purpose in life, but it is not to “fear God and keep his commandments” (Matt. 6:19ff; cf. Lk. 12:15ff). Small wonder why many sons and daughters of Christians cannot find time to worship and serve God. They are worshipping and serving God, just as their parents taught them!
What Are We Teaching Our Children
About Respect For Authority?
It is no mystery that crime is at an all time high and schools have difficulty with rebellious students and yes, even churches are plagued with the introduction of unauthorized practices when children are not taught respect for God’s authority. Respect for authority begins in the home. Children must be taught to obey (Eph. 6:1-4). Sometimes that involves the rod of correction (Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15). Notice what was to be done with a rebellious son under the law of Moses (Deus. 21:18ff). Unfortunately, many are not consistent in their teaching, but operate on the principal, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our children are more perceptive than we think. They see our inconsistency and they are learning from our example.
What Are We Teaching Our Children
About the Church and Its Work?
Do our children ask on the Lord’s day whether or not we are going to church? My friends, this decision should have been made a long time ago (Heb. 10:25). It should be understood if it is time to assemble with the saints, we are going! Do our children understand why we have assembled? We have not come together to play or be entertained, but to worship God (Jn. 4:24). I have great admiration for the parents of children, who are teaching their children reverence for the occasion of worship and the distinctiveness of what the church is.
What Are We Teaching Our Children About Morality?
Oh, we may well teach against adultery and fornication, but dress our “sweet little Sally Mae” in attire that tempts everybody on the block to propose fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 10:8; Prov. 7:10). We must teach our children regarding the permanence and sanctity of marriage and the home, but we must also help them understand what it means to “flee fornication” and to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:22). There was a time when parents instructed their children that certain circumstances were to be avoided because “it just doesn’t look good.” We live in a time when people commit all kinds of “abomination” and are not “ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jeri 6:15). Let us accept soberly the responsibility to teach our children to behave and dress modestly that their lives will be an example of purity (1 Tim. 4:12).
Israel failed to properly teach their children and the next generation did not “know Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.” Therefore, they did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah. We are teaching our children both verbally and by our example, but what are we teaching our children? Certainly, the next generation will tell.
In the words of Helen M. Young from the poem “Children Won’t Wait,”
. . I will not exchange this birthright for a mess of pottage called social position, or business or professional reputation, or a pay check. An hour of concern today may save years of heartache tomorrow. The house will wait, the dishes will wait, the new room can wait, but children won’t wait. . . . May I know that no other career is so precious, no other work so rewarding, no other task too urgent. May I not defer it nor neglect it, but by the Spirit accept it gladly, joyously, and by Thy grace realize that the time is short and my time is now. For children won’t wait.
When we diligently lay up treasurers on this earth
and we believe that our lives consist of what we possess, be
not deceived, we are teaching our children the purpose in life,
but it is not to ‘fear God and keep his commandments’ (Matt. 6:19ff; cf.
Lk. 12:15ff). Small wonder why many sons and daughters of Christians cannot
find time to worship and serve God. They are worshipping and serving God,
just as their parents taught them!”
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 10, p. 14-15
May 20, 1993