Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go”
2 Timothy 3:15, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures”
As an umpire stood behind the plate at a girls’ softball game, he heard a player’s mother start chanting, “We want a new ump! We want a new ump!” Soon, other parents took up the chant. The ump smiled, then turned toward the crowd and yelled, “I want new parents! I want new parents!” The heckling died away. It’s very important for parents to set a good example, because their children are watching them. Parents who are born again believers in Christ can encourage good habits and behavior by doing things like:
(1) Praying for and with them so they learn how to talk to God. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it” (Colossians 4:2).
(2) Reading and teaching them the Bible so they learn God’s truth. “Teach [God’s commands] diligently to your children, … talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
(3) Telling them about Jesus and leading them to faith in Him. “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God:” (John 3:3).
The best way to set a good example or be a good influence, not only for our children, but also for those individuals that we know, is to live out our faith in front of them. While they’re looking, they’re learning about what matters most. In chapter 16 of the book of Acts, we read that the apostle Paul and Silas sang and prayed in a Philippian jail at midnight (Acts 16:25). When an earthquake broke open the prison doors, the jailer was so terrified that he was about to commit suicide, but Paul stopped him. Seeing that the prisoners did not try to escape, the jailer fell down trembling. “What must I do to be saved?” he asked (v. 30).
That day he and his entire household became believers. Why? Because of the powerful example of these two men who were faithful and obedient to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As believers in Christ, our lives will affect others for either good or bad, which is a very sobering and challenging truth. Our children don’t learn to love and obey God only by what we say. They also learn by watching how we put our beliefs into practice. It goes on at mealtime, in the car, in the store, in conversation with or about neighbors … all the time. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us we are to teach them about God and His Word as we “sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up”. The question you must ask yourself would be, “What kind of example am I setting?
A little boy described grandmothers like this, “A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own, so she loves everybody else’s. Grandmas don’t have to do anything but be there. If they take you for a walk, they slow down past leaves and caterpillars. They can answer questions like why dogs hate cats and why God isn’t married. When they read to you, they don’t skip parts if it’s the same story again. Everyone should have a grandmother because they are the only grown-ups who have time for you.”
Timothy is a prime example of how a young life can be greatly influenced by a grandmother, especially if she is a godly and devout woman. He held a position of great responsibility in leading the congregation at Ephesus. It was a difficult assignment for a young man who was timid by nature. To help his young protégé stand firm, the apostle Paul reminded him of the faith of his grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). It isn’t hard to imagine her playing with him when he was little, teaching him Scripture passages, putting him to bed with hugs and kisses and childlike prayers, and in the process nurturing the faith of her grandson. God is a wise Father who knows how to help godly grandmothers, and all of us, to influence young lives, with precious truths from God’s Eternal Word.
Take stock of yourself and consider your child,
Your time and your thoughts are his due;
How would you reply to the Lord should He ask,
“What kind of parent are you?”
Children may not inherit their parents’ talent, but they will absorb their values.