As a mom, my greatest desire for my children is for them to be saved. There is much, I can do as a mom to train up my children in the Lord, but ultimately our children will one day need to choose whether to accept the Lord into their lives and follow Him.
I was not raised in a Christian home, so I often feel ill-equipped in training my children up in the Lord. I feel like my children may be missing out on some key spiritual practices that other mom’s have experienced first hand in their upbringing or that I’m not modelling living a life for Christ effectively. I often think- Am I praying enough? Are we reading and discussing Scripture enough? Are we worshiping the Lord enough? I just wish there was a magic formula that said if you do all of these things your children will choose to give their life to the Lord.
I know that salvation is very much a heart attitude and not works based but it feels like there is a lot of responsibility on me to train up these children well. So, when I read the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, it was like the Spirit was handing me a very clear answer to prayer.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23
So how can we as moms train up our children to choose this path for their lives?
Well, Jesus’ answer is pretty simply– you must hear the word and understand it.
How many people do you know who have been raised in Christian homes and attended church all their lives but when they became young adults they walked away from their faith? This is an all to common theme happening more and more. I think the problem here is that as parents we think that simply hearing the Word is enough. If our children hear the stories enough and listen to enough sermons then the Word will sink into their hearts and impact the way they live. But I don’t think that’s enough, especially if we look at what Jesus is saying here. Not only do we need to hear His Word, but we must understand it too. This requires a desire to know the Lord more intimately.
We hear so much information on a daily basis but how much of it do we remember or apply? How many of us are changed or influenced by the things we hear and learn? When I think back to my schooling, there is a lot that I don’t remember. There was a lot of information and topics that I simply gave very little thought too because I did not understand it or want to understand it. How true is this in your own life? How many of you remember all the math formulas you were taught or how to create a series circuit? How many of you are able to identify all the elements on the periodic table or give a detailed description of Canadian history. There are things that I am choosing to understand now as an adult simply because it has value to me. I need to know it in order to be successful in my endeavour. I believe this is exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us.
If we look at the Gospels, we see that most often Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds. At first, I never understood why He did this. I questioned why would He speak in parables that most people would not understand, not even His disciples. Then, one day it became very clear to me–He was weeding out those who were there for the wrong reasons. There were thousands of people who would come to listen to Jesus but I’m sure there were very few who stuck around to seek further clarification. I’m always so thankful for the disciples taking the time to ask Jesus to explain His parables to them. And the thing is Jesus gladly explained them each and every time. Jesus wanted them to ask and to know Him more.
Look at the following passages of Scripture and the common theme—seeking to know God.
“If you truly call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search it out like hidden treasure, then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:3-5
“I love those who love me and those who seek me will surely find me.” Proverbs 8:17
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Jesus wants us to search and seek understanding in order to know Him more intimately. He has made all of Scripture available to us in order that we may choose to grow in relationship with Him. We are not meant to simply read His Word, but to wrestle with it, question it, dissect it, apply it, speak it and live it.
Let’s look at Romans 10:17, “Faith is through hearing, and hearing is through the Word of God.” When reading this passage of Scripture from our Western understanding of the word hearing, we think that all we need to do is hear God’s Word and that will be enough, but that’s not what the apostle Paul was trying to get across here. Our English word for hear doesn’t encompass exactly what Paul was trying to say. In Hebrew, the word Paul uses is shema which means to hear and obey. This conveys a very different message to us. We not only have to hear God’s Word but we need to be moved to action by it. We should understand what we are hearing and be changed by it in the way we live our lives.
So how do we help our children understand God’s Word?
Here’s a few ideas…
- Read & Discuss- I think it’s important for our children to see us reading God’s Word from the Bible. I especially think our children should hear all of God’s Word, not just the condensed children’s version. Sometimes we don’t give children enough credit as to what they understand. Some texts may be more challenging then others, but it gives us the opportunity to break it down, discuss it and develop a deeper understanding of the message.
- Read Various Versions- It’s a really great idea to read God’s Word in a variety of versions because some versions are easier to understand than others. It’s still a really great idea to read a children’s Bible to your child too. Sometimes the pictures are the key piece to helping your child gain deeper understanding. Some children’s Bible’s have questions or activities for you to do with your children to help them understand in a more profound and practical way too.
- Re-Enact the Story- This is a really great activity to do with your children. It may require reading the Bible story a few times, but it allows your children to better understand the characters, the setting and message being conveyed. Children love to dress up and get into character, so let them do it in a fun and meaningful way.
- Children’s Bible Studies- There are many children’s Bible studies available to do alongside your children. Just like Bible studies are a great tool for us as adults to grow in our understanding of God’s Word and develop a deeper relationship with Him, they also help our children dig deeper into God’s Word.
- Vocational Bible School (VBS)- Many churches host VBS camps during the summer for young children. This year my children attended one at our local church called Ship Wrecked. It was a fun opportunity to meet other Christian children and go on an adventure to uncover God’s Word and place it in their hearts. They still talk about the songs and Biblical truths that they learned there.
- Worship Music Videos- There is a great musical collection of songs by the Rizers that help children memorize Scripture through song. They have music videos that go along with them too. Music has a powerful way of implanting in our hearts and minds. The animated videos help explain what the verse is saying in such a great kid friendly way.
I hope you will find some of these ideas helpful to you and your children. I pray that as you walk alongside your children and train them up in the Lord that their understanding will deepen and their relationship with the Lord will flourish.
SHARE: What are some fun ways you help your children understand God’s Word?