We’ve all heard the saying “faith is caught, not taught,” and there’s a good deal of truth in this. How we live matters enormously, and our children will follow our example and absorb many of our values just by living with us. But surely we parents can’t expect it all to be caught.
God told the Israelites to “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…; teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut 11:18-19). Exposing our children to God’s truths and ways from his Word must be a regular practice of childrearing, started early and practiced regularly. I’ve encountered some bar-raising thinking on teaching our the kids the Bible in a compelling blog post and an edifying sermon I heard.
I realized that the children’s Bible we were reading with our son had been a good start but was too elementary for him at age 3 1/4. It featured the classic Sunday School stories in basic form but that was it. No depth, not much to begin expanding his vision of God. So we moved onto to a more comprehensive children’s Bible, and while much of it is still a bit old for him, he’s being exposed to much more now and having the opportunity to begin to understand. The Bible (written for kids 4 – 8 years) has elicited starter discussions between us about real issues that he needs to understand from a biblical worldview, like truth, sin, and death. Even simple vocab words that he’s not yet familiar with have arisen, such as “wife” and “slave.” It’s been helpful.
I’m reading it through with him sequentially, one story a day, and I plan to go back and start again at the beginning when we’re done – perhaps two or three months from now. And the next time around, he’ll pick up more since 1) a foundation will have been laid, and 2) he’ll be older and have a larger comprehension.
The amazing thing about the Bible is that it’s instructive and penetrating for its readers no matter what their age, comprehension level, or background – this is the promise of Heb 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” What a comfort to a parent seeking to train her child in the Word — I need only be faithful to read, explain, and talk it through, and I can trust God to use that and work through it in my son.
In the sermon linked above (or perhaps another in that 4-part series from Proverbs), Mark Driscoll says that a mom is her children’s theologian, unpacking a biblical worldview to her kids throughout the day. She should know her Bible and should seek normal, daily-life opportunities to insert biblical truth and draw parallels. This, after all, is really what Deut 11:18-19 is all about…