by Jefferson David Tant
It is patently obvious that babies are born uneducated. They are not born with the ability to do math, read, or do science projects. And along with this is a lack of knowledge about God and His will for us. They do know when they are hungry or in pain, but not much else.
So, what do we do to educate our children so they can learn how to get along in the world? We teach them! We send them to school to learn how to read and write, how to do math, and how to make sense of things around us in the world. This is universal, and at least for twelve years, our children are sent to school five days a week, for seven or so hours a day through nine months of the year. We all agree as to the absolute importance of this education.
But how much attention do we pay to an even greater education? And what am I referring to? I am referring to spiritual education — learning about God and his plan for us. I am sure that most, if not all of my readers will agree that spiritual education is vital for our children. And how do we go about making sure our children get this education? I don’t know what transpires in other nations, but in the US Christian parents usually make sure they take their children to the Sunday Bible classes and worship services, and then to Wednesday night Bible classes. Thus from the Bible classes and sermons, they get at least four hours of instruction each week.
Now, think about it. Secular education -- 35 hours a week, and Bible education -- 4 hours a week. Does that make sense? And some wonder why we lose so many of our youth to the world.
Obviously, there is not enough time in the day for our children to go to school for 6 hours and then have a Bible study for 6 hours in addition to other daily activities. But some things can be done daily to remind us and our children that we have been called to be children of God. The Bible gives us some examples for how to accomplish the goal of spiritually educated children,
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Obviously, these words constitute a daily reminder of who God is and of our relationship with Him. Do you ever ask your children what they learned in their Bible class, or what did they think of the sermon they heard during the worship hour?
Then note Psalm 78:4-7:
“We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments.”
The New Testament has some passages that deal with the spiritual education of our children. One such passage is Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Fathers, do you “bring them up” by taking them to church on Sunday? Did Jewish fathers teach their sons by just taking them to the synagogue on Saturday? Obviously not. Proverbs 22:6 has good advice: “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Question: Would we expect our children to do well and thrive in the world with only two or three hours of education a week? Obviously not.
OK, so we have considered the instructions given to fathers. What about mothers? Consider what Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 3:14-15: “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
And just who was it that taught these things to young Timothy? We know that Paul had a part in training this young man, but there were two others. “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (II Timothy 1:5). We know that Timothy’s father was not a Christian, but his mother and grandmother made sure that this young man was well taught.
I know life is busy with many distractions, in fact, many more than in my youth. We didn’t have a TV in my younger years, and of course, there was no internet and all that comes with it. Today there are myriads of distractions, and all the more reason for parents to be diligent in the spiritual education of our children. They are facing more challenges than in previous generations, and some educational programs are teaching the young students about choosing alternate lifestyles, about why there is no God and church-going is really of no benefit. All the more reason for parents, and churches, to be working to establish a firm foundation for our children’s faith.
Parents must be diligent in building a foundation for their children’s faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) “assurance” is from the Greek “hupostasis” which is “a setting under (support),” as we might consider a house’s foundation. The King James Version uses the word “substance.” We know that a building without a foundation is going to collapse. Studies show that a large number of denominational students lose their faith while in college. They have little foundation, and there are professors who have stated that their aim is to destroy the faith of the ignoramuses who come into their classrooms.
Parents, can you make time for a short Bible study or devotion at breakfast before they leave for school? That worked well for us and included some neighborhood teens, who were then baptized. Or what about an evening devotional and discussion before bedtime? Don’t wait until Saturday night and ask “Do you have your Sunday school lesson done? No TV until you do your lesson.” So they do a hasty scan through the class lesson before turning on the TV.
Consider what God said about Abraham: “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him" (Genesis 18:19).