Written by: James D. Dempsey
As I’ve gotten older, the more I believe that the test for authentic Christianity, not the pretend kind, revolves around this single question: Do I love the word of God? And for parents, an essential question is, “How do I help my child love it?”
God’s word is often inconvenient. Do I obey it even then? God’s word is often painful. Do I seek it out even then? God’s word commands us to do things that will cause division, at least temporarily, between us and the ones we love most, like spouses and children. Will I obey it even then? If the answers are yes, then I know that I respect and love God’s word.
As parents, how do we bring our children to such a level of commitment to God’s word? Let’s get real here. How do I approach such a level? It is not easy for me to do this. In fact it’s impossible unless I die to myself and let the Holy Spirit operate freely in my life. So, number one, if I want to help my children love God’s word, I must die to self and obey God’s word. No amount of church attendance, Bible memorization, or good behavior will be enough to train our children in this. We must lead them to love God and His word, and help them to follow us.
Here then are six trail markers that signal you are on the path to loving God’s word:
- You read God’s word regularly and enjoy it. I don’t mean you relish long periods of Bible reading every day, with no lapses or occasional dryness. I do mean that the norm for you is consistent chunks of time spent reading and appreciating God’s word.
- You seek out and respect the preaching of God’s word. If you find the simple exposition of God’s word boring, you aren’t a mature Christian. You’re getting off the path if you must have entertaining preaching at the expense of solid Bible teaching.
- You do hard things when you are convicted by God’s word to do so. This could be anything from giving money outside of your comfort zone, witnessing to a stranger, or confronting a co-worker. Sanctification is rarely a comfortable process.
- You take advantage of group Bible study opportunities. Study is more than just regular reading. It requires submission to a knowledgeable teacher and a structured curriculum so that you are forced to read new sections of Scripture with goals that might not be of your choosing. The Holy Spirit uses these times to break new ground in us.
- You enjoy being with other believers. That doesn’t mean you enjoy only believers’ company, because God will place you with unbelievers to be His witnesses. It does mean you have regular fellowship with other believers to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.’
- You trust that God’s word has the answer to every spiritual question, even when circumstances, or the latest science discovery, cause you to doubt. Trust is not blind faith. It is the reasoned confidence that God is ultimately true, and His word, fully explained and fully understood, is anchored in Him.
So, to answer the original question, “How do I help my child love God’s word?” you must lead them on this path. As you lead, you must pray for the Holy Spirit to do this great work, first in you, then in your child. Loving God’s word is a spiritual work because it is not compatible with the flesh. No amount of Bible Drill or Awana classes, apart from God’s work in the heart, will make your child love God’s word.
Don’t get me wrong, Bible Drill and Awana are great programs which pay lifelong dividends. But don’t confuse memorizing God’s word with loving it. As Psalm 119:16 says, delighting in God’s word is essential to remembering it. “I will delight myself in Your precepts. I will not forget Your word.”
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