Julia M. Faulkner
In Deuteronomy 6: 5, 6, & 7, we read that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and might. It also says for us to teach these words to our children, telling very specifically how to do this. But I believe it would be wise if we were first ask ourselves if we can truly say we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and might. Practice what you preach definitely applies here (I Timothy 4:12).
Take some time to study the following verses. First of all, why should you love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and might? Romans 6: 6�9, 2 Corinthians 5: 17 & 18, Romans 5:6, and Romans 12:1 are just a few reasons we should be able to love the Lord so fully! Then you might ask yourself how you can love the Lord in such a way. Read 1 John 3:18 and Hebrews 1:9. As an example of what not to do, study Ezekiel 33:31. Finally you need to see if there are things hindering you from loving the Lord as you should. Just a few verses of scripture should have you searching your heart. Galatians 1:10, Luke 16:13, & Matthew 6:21 are just a few examples of hindrances in our love for the Lord. More specifically, where is your heart? Have you left your first love (Revelation 2:4)? Then you need to claim I John 1:9 and seek God’s forgiveness.
Now that we have examined our own love for the Lord, how do we go about teaching our children? First off, we must begin when they are young, as pointed out in Proverbs 22:6 and II Timothy 3:14, 15. You can never begin too soon! Ephesians 6:4 is a very helpful verse.
The most logical way to begin is to show your child what the Bible says about God and his love for man. The following verses will help your child know exactly how much God loves him/her: I John 4: 19 (God loved us first), John 3:16 (God loves the world and sent His son), and Romans 5:8 should get you started. I would suggest helping you child(ren) memorize these verses as soon their verbal skills will allow. Usually 2 or 2 1/2 years is a good time.
I John 4:19 tells us that we love God because he loved us first. I don’t think we can teach our children about loving God without first teaching this very important verse. From there I suggest teaching Romans 3:23 and 6:23. These two verses talk about man’s sin and God’s gift of eternal life. Not only does the child see the extent of God’s love here, it’s an early introduction to the plan of salvation! And isn’t that the ultimate goal? If a child never realizes how much God loves him/her, how can he ever accept the wonderful sacrifice of God’s son for our unrighteousness?
To me the sweetest memory is of my children singing “Jesus Loves Me” when they were but about 2 years old. II Corinthians 9:6 is an especially encouraging verse for parents trying to raise children in a Godly manner. Basically it says that we reap what we sow! So be careful of what you allow to be planted in your child’s mind. One of the worst offenders is the television. But music, books, friends, and many other factors influence your child in undesirable ways.
Read Proverbs 19:27. If you teach your child right from wrong as each situation arises (i.e. bad language on TV. � tell him/her that it is displeasing to God, and change the channel!), then they will remember the right thing to do next time the incident comes up. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll be witnessing to your child about what does and does not please God. “Train up a child . . .” (Proverbs 22:6) is basically what I’m trying to say here.
I cannot say enough about how important it is to begin teaching our children from a very young age. I’m sure that it makes as much sense to you as it does to me that it is easier to teach correct behavior and attitude from the start, than to have to go back and correct it later on. Proverbs 22:6 really does work wonders! It takes more effort to change someone’s thinking about something than to start out doing the right thing from the beginning. You’ve heard the old saying about someone being “set in his ways”? Well, it does not take a child very long to become accustomed to undesirable habits.
Pray with your child daily at times other than meals and bedtime. One suggestion would be to pray with your child each morning before he/she leaves for school for the day. It is a scary thought to think of the influences our children are exposed to when we are not there. So, in light of that thought, pray that the Lord will help your child to know what is right and wrong and that they will be able to resist the pressure of their peers to participate in behavior and activities that are not in alignment with what they have been taught at home. Also ask God to help your child to be a good witness for Him.
Can you think of other things to pray for? If your child is having any problems at school (teacher, bullies, school work), help him/her to memorize 1 Peter 5:7. I have often helped Elizabeth pray that the Lord would help her to do well on tests and school work (especially if she was having any particular difficulties). Doing these few simple things will help cultivate your child’s trust in the Lord.
But don’t forget what I Thessalonians 5:18 says (a good verse to memorize). To give thanks!
As I come to a close, I would like to share with you a few ideas in training up your child. These things really don’t take long, but the rewards will be well worth your effort. Besides the memorizing of scripture, I recommend reading the Bible to your child(ren) daily. And I don’t mean bible story books, either! Take your Bible and read from it to them. When a child is able to read on their own, let him/her read to you. While it is true that there are some long, hard words to read, there are plenty of passages simple enough for even a child to read. The point is to teach good habits for personal Bible study. For any of us not reared in such a manner, the importance of this practice should be very clear. I still struggle with being dedicated in my daily Bible study. At any rate, a good time to do this is right after school or right before bedtime. An extra benefit of doing this is the precious memories the child will have of you sharing God and His word. It blesses my heart to hear preachers talk about how their parents did this very thing with them when they were growing up. Don’t you want to be remembered as a godly parent? I know I do, but I often fail.
My final point is to simply talk to your child everyday about God and His love for him/her. According to Deuteronomy 6:7 we should be talking to our children about God all the day long. From the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night. I like to play a little game each night as I tuck the children into bed. After they have said their prayers, I ask each child who loves them the most; even more than mommy or daddy. The answer of course is Jesus! And then I ask them if they know how much that Jesus loves them, and what did Jesus do to show his love? He died on the cross to save us from our sin, so that we can one day come and live with Him in Heaven. Even Rebekah at two years of age could answer these questions. Although she may not have fully understood what it all meant, I knew I had planted the seed.
If you will just follow the few simple ideas I’ve given you here (start young, read the Bible to your child, help them to memorize scripture, and so forth), then I’m convinced that your child won’t have much trouble loving the Lord his God with all of his heart, soul, and might!