Last month we began looking at what we as mothers could do in our daily lives and schedules to help our children love the Lord Jesus with all of their hearts and to grow to be adults who will be lovers of God more than lovers of pleasure. The following note contains all the details of the question.
“My greatest desire for my child is that he will love the Lord with all of his heart. He is generally well behaved and obedient, but I have recently realized that I need to do a better job of stirring up godly appetites in his heart. I want to teach him to be a lover of God more than a lover of pleasure.
“There are two areas where I see my own need to improve: One is that I don’t think I have scheduled in enough work and responsibility for him. The other is that I am not a diligent person. I am too quick to settle for less effort, both on my part and on his. I haven’t been purposely doing this, but now that I realize it, I am so sorry for it! I want to change, and I am claiming God’s promise that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
“I am going to re-read my Managers of Their Homes book, and rewrite our schedule. Once I have done this, I plan to start joining the weekly accountability threads.
“Meanwhile, I would love any advice you have. I know that teaching our children to love God above all is a heart issue. However, I believe that our hearts are affected by the way we spend our time. I believe that our schedule has a VERY strong impact on our hearts. What do you put on your schedules that has actually brought fruit in your children’s lives, taught them to love the Lord, and to have a servant’s heart?
“We have silent Bible reading, as well as a time for reading the Bible together, and for memory work. He uses a Bible study book as part of his homeschool work. We also have a reading time right before bed. For the most part, we use books with a godly focus, such as the Moody Family Series, Rod and Staff stories, etc. What more can I do to give him godly teachings and to help him apply these teachings to his life?”WhiterThanSnow
We started with the basic premise that our actions speak louder than our words. What we desire to be evident in our children’s lives must start in our own hearts through the attitudes and actions of our lives. As we move into how to promote loving Jesus in our children’s lives through what we have them do, WhiterThanSnow has already input the basics into her son’s schedule—personal Bible time, family Bible time, and Scripture memory.
Look again with me at Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”This process of teaching our children the Word of God is to be purposeful, and it should be accomplished diligently. I think if we want to have this outcome, a plan will be helpful.
In our family, as soon as our children can read, we want to teach them to have personal time in the Word every day. Here is a whole Mom’s Corner article that I wrote on the subject of helping children have daily Bible time: Children’s Personal Bible Time. In addition, family Bible time is vitally important as well. During family Bible time, we as parents have the opportunity of teaching not only the factual information contained in Scripture but, even more importantly, how Scripture applies to our daily lives. As a matter of fact, I believe that our family Bible time has been the single most instrumental factor in helping develop a love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a disdain for the pleasures of this world (see Steve’s “Feed CDs for more information on family Bible time). Finally, Scripture memory allows a child to have the Word available in his mind for use at any moment of the day.
Another step we can take as we fulfill Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is to make sure we share Scripture with our children through out the day. I discovered that this takes time, a commitment, and a personal knowledge of applicable Scripture. In looking back, I regret that I didn’t do this more with my children as they were growing up.
Sharing Scripture might be done in the context of disciplining a child who isn’t saying or doing what he should be saying or doing. A tool that helped me in using Scripture when I disciplined was Doorposts’ “If-Then. This inexpensive chart not only helped me be consistent with the discipline of my children, but it also directed me in using Scripture in these situations. It was very important to us to encourage our children that our love for the Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our obedience to His Word. For us that meant using Scripture when we disciplined and talking with the child about obedience to the Lord Jesus. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).
When a child is ungrateful, we can encourage him with this verse: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When he is bickering with a sibling, we discuss this idea: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). If he is angry, we go over this admonition: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). I believe you have the idea through these examples.
Please let me give you a word of caution, though, as you use the Word in your children’s lives. Especially when you are using it to correct a child, to point out error in his life, or to give him a biblical direction—be sure your attitude is one of love, gentleness, and patience. If there is anger or frustration in your heart, it will be evident to your child and undermine the good you would like to achieve. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
Using the Word in daily life can also be implemented as we personally encounter situations through our home-life activities. When we greet our children in the morning, we can say, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24). If a child gets hurt, we can quote, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Then we want to make sure that we stop and pray out loud for our child so that he is hearing and learning a dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ to care for his needs. As we observe a beautiful flower in the garden, we say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and offer praise to the Lord: “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1).
In addition, we will use the Word for giving direction in a child’s life. When he comes to us because someone has treated him unfairly, we can show him the sufferings of Christ. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). We can help him with his response to an offender: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:19-20).
In our quest to bring up children who will be drawn to being a lover of God more than a lover of pleasures, we will start with a foundation of the Word of God in their lives. This is accomplished through time in the Word, Scripture memory, and the application of verses that are pertinent to our children’s lives and the situations that come up throughout the day. “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalms 119:24). May we be mothers who love the Word and teach our children to do so as well. “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalms 119:47).