Today we are picking up from where we left off on Part 1.
In summary, so far we have learned that as Christian parents, there is no reason, that we should be on our Christian journey to love God and enjoy life, and not teach our kids how to do the same. It is vital to teach our kids the bible so that they can utilize the same tools that the Holy Spirit has given us.
We've already covered the importance of teaching them about:
- The Bible
- Fellowship (Church)
- Faith (Trusting in God)
So now, let's dive right in to take a look at the other 5 things we should teach our kids so that they too may enjoy life in Christ.
The bible teaches us so much about love. God's love, loving your spouse, loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, etc. Yet, there is such little expression of it today - even among Christians.
Love is one of those basic Christian principles that ALL believers must constantly work on. Both adults and children alike. The problem is, we come up with our own definitions of what love is and how to express it.
The bible, however, teaches us that God is love (I John 4:8). And that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that lives within us (Galatians 5:22). In other words, we can only learn what true love is by learning through the bible who God is. And we can only exhibit true expressions of love, because of the Holy Spirit's capability within us.
In a world that is so full of hate, violence and oppression, it is extremely important that we learn how to show love and teach our kids what the bible has to say about love. It is our love that will differentiate us from non-believers. It is how people will know we belong to God - that we are His representatives.
How often do we talk to our kids about why they should do the "Christ-like" things that we tell them to do? It is so important that we explain to them that God commands us to show love to everyone around us. And we love, because God first loved us! (I John 4:19)
We have to teach them why being nice to someone who isn't so nice to them, is the right thing to do, simply because God commanded us to.
We have to teach them why we have to be patient with people. Why we shouldn't be jealous or disrespectful. Why we shouldn't be selfish. Why we shouldn't just blow up and lash out at people when they make us angry. Why we shouldn't tease, make fun of, or bully other kids at school. Why we shouldn't lie, cheat or violate anyone.
And just in case you haven't figured out the "why" - it's all because God's Word says so! We don't display those behaviors because they are not a good representation of God or His love.
Now some of you may be saying to yourself, 'how am I going to teach my kids what the bible says about love, when I haven't even mastered this love thing yet'. And guess what? That's ok! God's Word never said to master Christianity and then go teach it to your kids. He simply said, to teach them.
The whole point here, is to learn the bible and grow in your walk with God - together! Not you as an adult, living and enjoying life in Christ, while you wait 10 years to figure it all out before you start teaching your kids to do the same.
In fact, I promise you, as you start cultivating an environment in your home that is full of conversation centered around the Word of God, you will even find yourself learning from your kids sometimes. I can't tell you how often, God uses my son to remind me about certain things when I fall off track.
The fact of the matter is, in a world with so little love, it would be a complete disservice to our Christian kids if we didn't teach them about God's love, and how to love others. After all, according to the bible, without love, we are nothing and true love never fails.
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - I Corinthians 13:3-8a (NIV)
And then comes good old forgiveness. Hard to learn and teach, yet so easy to preach.
Similar to love, forgiveness is one of those topics that because we ourselves as adults struggle with it, we steer away from teaching it to our kids. But, just as I stated regarding love, we can't wait to master forgiveness, before we start teaching our kids the concept.
Side Note: as humans we will NEVER master love, forgiveness or any part of Christianity for that matter. We are however, called to work towards becoming more and more like Christ everyday.
Just as we are commanded to love because God first loved us, so we are commanded to forgive:
Forgiveness is often made very complicated, when in fact the bible actually makes it pretty simple. Well, simple, as far as, how forgiveness is supposed to work. Its the implementation of the process, that tends to be the hard part that we often struggle with. God actually NEVER said it would be easy or that it would happen overnight. However, He did command us to do it.
As I personally reflect on things I have had to forgive people for, I can easily name the top 3 things that took me a long time to forgive. And if I'm being honest, at least one thing, where I have yet to arrive at the point of forgiveness.
However, our feelings about forgiveness or reasons why we don't or haven't forgiven someone is irrelevant in light of the Word of God. Our attitude, as Christians, should always be that the bible is true and has the final authority and say on the topic. It is then left with us, to work towards being more like Christ. To pray and ask God to help us in the areas where we fall short of obeying His Word.
When teaching our kids the bible, I believe it is important for us to share our shortcomings and struggles with them. This lets them know that we aren't perfect and that is why we need God in our lives in the first place. This also will encourage them when they struggle with similar things.
Bottom line - we can't leave out forgiveness, when teaching our kids the bible. After all, to NOT forgive, would be to harbor the underlying anger, resentment, bitterness and any other negative feelings they may have. All of which will only hinder them from enjoying life in Christ.
8. The Challenges of Life
Now what kind of Christian parents would we be if we didn't prep our babies for the challenges of life?
If your kids are still really young, like elementary age, I know all you want to do is protect them from the "bad" things of life. And to some degree we should. Especially at that age. However, it is so important, even at a young age, to start teaching them that life is not all smiles and rainbows. Not even for Christians.
The bible itself, warns us countless of times regarding the challenges we will face in life. But it also reminds us that with God we don't have to worry, because He will be with us through everything.
We must teach our kids that some days are simply going to be better than others. There will be times when things just won’t go our way. Unexpected situations will arise, people will disappoint you out of the blue, and more often than not, we’ll disappoint ourselves. We will have those “blah” days.
Your wallet is stolen. You don't get approved for financial aid. You’ve been kicked off the football team. You’re fired from your job. Your significant other breaks up with you out of the blue. There’s an eviction notice taped to your door. Your bank account is hacked. Your cousin never paid you back. A loved one passes away and you never got to say goodbye.
The list of things that could happen to us in this life is infinite. And not one of these scenarios is pleasant or fun to go through. But, knowing that God will carry us through, is sometimes the ONLY thing that gives us just the strength we need to push through our circumstances.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” - Psalms 37:23-24 (NIV)
This verse is a reminder of the fact that when things don't go as planned, or when we stumble along the way, that God is going to be with us every step of the way. Holding our hand, and giving us the strength to get back on track again. Life is hard. That’s a fact. Its ONLY because of our relationship with God that we can truly live with a purpose and enjoy life amidst the chaos that surrounds us.
We can't paint life as a perfect picture for our Christian kids and then expect them NOT to crash and burn when real life actually shows up. We must teach them that life is hard and full of challenges. But with God, all things are possible.
9. Giving Thanks
I want to reference a verse we looked at in Part 1 of this post:
Giving thanks goes hand in hand with teaching our kids what the bible says about about life's challenges. And as you can see from the verse, just like praying and being joyful, giving thanks is God's will for us as Christians.
Even in those moments when life seems to genuinely suck, I’ve learned that even on the worst of days to just pause. STOP. And reflect on the positive things in my life. To just starting naming all the things that I am thankful for. And most of all, giving thanks to God for His presence in my life. After all, it is because of His presence in our lives and the relationship we have with Him, that we can go through some serious stuff, and yet, still be more than okay.
Do you know how beneficial it would be for our kids to start teaching them to have an attitude of gratitude while they are young?
When we shift or change our focus and begin to just give God praise, spend time in prayer and thank Him continually no matter what is going on around us, do you know how much our lives will begin to change for the better? I’m not saying all the bad stuff, heartache, frustrations, and pain will vanish. But our attitudes in the midst of life’s toughest circumstances and situations will begin to shift dramatically.
Let us not only “give thanks” during the holiday season, but rather remember to give a “lil bit of thanks” everyday! After all, God’s love is evident all day, every day, in everything, all around us. Lets make it a point to take time daily to give thanks and focus on the wonderful things He is doing in our lives. No matter how big or small. And most importantly to teach our kids to do the same!
Last on my list, but certainly not the least, is money. I added this one to the list because most parents in general (Christians and non-Christians) neglect to teach their kids about money. And its definitely not taught in school..
Having worked in the Financial Services Industry for 15 years, I can tell you, that I wish I knew then what I know now about money.
Like any other topic, as Christian parents, we should approach the subject of money with our kids from a biblical perspective. After all, the bible says in Matthew 6:21 (NIV) - "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". In other words, what someone does with their money says a lot about what is important to them.
Our job is to teach our kids what the bible says about money. How to spend, save, invest, give, pay off debts, and bring offerings to church. And don't forget the "why" behind it all.
Even more importantly, we must teach them to have the right attitude about money.
The word money alone is used over 100 times in the bible. Not to mention the hundreds of times that its related words are used (wealth, riches, prosperity, etc). There is a lot that God wants to tell us and a lot for us to learn about money!
Just ask yourself, am I handling my money the way God wants me to? Am I selfish or generous? Do I give enough to the church? Why am I in so much debt? Do I owe someone that I’ve never paid back? Is it wrong to be rich? Should I seek for a higher paying job or be content where I am? Is loving money wrong?
Most parents don't want their kids to repeat their past mistakes and that includes the misuse of money. How much more could we equip our kids, than by teaching them biblical principles about money. We may not know all the mechanics and specifics about investing, stocks and 401k's. However, if we at least teach them the biblical principles about money, then when God blesses them in their adulthood they will have a foundation on which to utilize their money in a way that not only benefits them, but pleases God.
Whether or not they end up rich/wealthy should be secondary to whether or not they are using their money the way God intended. Lets start teaching our kids now, how to make biblical money choices!
Lets NOT Neglect to teach our kids the bible
My fellow Christian parents, we have soooo much at our disposal spiritually. Please, please, please, let us not neglect to share these spiritual tools with our children. We must teach them about:
- The Bible
- Fellowship (Church)
- Faith (Trust in God)
- The Challenges of Life
- Giving Thanks
Now of course this is not an exhaustive list. These are just what I believe to be the basic starting points for Christian kids of all ages. So in our journey to grow in Christ and enjoy life, lets stand together to teach our kids how they too, can be victorious in Christ and enjoy their lives in the process!
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