Training Children to Love God

Training Children to Love God

by George Pearsons

Children are our future. In fact they are the future.

Speaking from experience as a pastor and father, I can tell you children grow up very quickly. As parents and as a church we’re called to train them and teach them the truth of God’s Word.

Part of that training includes teaching them to honor us. Just think of how God corrects us as His children. We understand He does it because He loves us. He desires for us to honor and respect Him so that we immediately obey Him. And He wants us to obey Him so we can fulfill His calling on our lives.

The same is true for our children. As we raise them to honor and respect us, we’re also teaching them to honor and respect their heavenly Father.

As a child I remember wanting my parents to correct me. One time in particular comes to mind when I was about 5 years old. My family and I were living in New York City. My mother was working the night shift and my father had fallen asleep on the couch. Instead of going to bed on my own, I stayed up watching television. It never crossed my mind to get ready for bed by myself because I’d never done it before. I just waited until my father woke up. When he asked me why I wasn’t in bed, I innocently replied, “I was waiting for you.”

Looking back I realize that I wanted him to correct me and tell me what to do. It’s the same with our children. They want to be corrected. They may not say it but deep down in their hearts they desire instruction and correction.

Why?

Because they develop a sense of security when we discipline and correct them. They will love us as their parents and more importantly they will love God.

Loving God and One Another

Everything we do in our lives—whether as parents or children—should come from a place of loving our heavenly Father and one another.

Matthew 22:37-39 says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Each of us is called to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind.

We’re also called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Take a moment to reread this verse. Where it says, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” put parentheses around “thy neighbor” and in its place fill in the name of someone you know.

Now think about this: Children could insert the names of their parents into this verse. Doing so would mean that they should love us, their parents, as they love themselves. This isn’t a stretch because “thy neighbor” isn’t limited to the person who lives next door to you. It’s anyone you are in contact with—friends, family, co-workers and parents.

A Commandment With a Promise

Deuteronomy 5:16 tells us how important it is for children to honor their parents. The first part of the verse is a commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.”

But this commandment comes with a promise. The promise says, that our days will be prolonged on this earth and filled with the glory of God in the land which the Lord our God gives us.

Kids need to understand that honoring mom and dad affects the course of their lives. It’s that important.

The word honor means “to hold in high esteem, to respect,” or “to love with great kindness, affection and care.”

Just as we should hold our parents in high esteem, we should teach our children to do the same. They are to value us as precious and love us with great kindness, affection and care.

As we teach our children to respect our authority they will in turn learn to respect God’s authority. As their parents we are the voice of God in their lives. We’re to train and direct them to follow after the Lord with all of their hearts. We’re called to be a reflection of Jesus Christ to them. As we teach them to be more like Jesus, we’ll help them to become more familiar with God’s love.

Our Example

In Luke 2 we read about Jesus as a child. It’s a great example of how children should respond to their parents. In this passage, Jesus and His earthly parents traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. He was 12 years old at the time. At the end of their visit, Mary and Joseph left Jerusalem to return home. Along the way they discovered that Jesus was not with their group. They returned to find Him teaching at the temple. When they asked Him what He was doing, He answered, “Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?” (Luke 2:49, New King James Version).

Now look at what verse 51 says: “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.”

It says, “Jesus was subject to them.” The word subject is a military term which means “to rank yourself under someone.” Jesus ranked Himself under His parents—He put Himself under their authority. He was practicing obedience with His parents so that He could be obedient to His heavenly Father. It says in The Amplified Bible, He “was [habitually] obedient to them.”

So for our children, obedience (being subject to us as their parents) is all part of honoring and loving us.

Jesus obeyed immediately. He didn’t talk back to Mary and Joseph or roll His eyes at them. He obeyed. This is how our children should respond to us too. They should be quick to obey.

By learning to quickly obey us, they’re also learning to quickly obey God.

The Next Generation

As parents and believers, we have an awesome responsibility. We are raising the next generation. Our children and the children in our churches are the next generation’s pastors, teachers and parents. We must raise them right. We need to train them to follow God—to honor and obey Him without complaining or hesitating.

This is a necessary step toward equipping them to fulfill God’s calling on their lives. Let’s not leave our children ill-equipped to handle their calling. Let’s teach them what it is to honor us and that by honoring us, they honor Him.

Children need to honor God and to know how very much God loves them. They learn that to a great degree through you, their parents. And remember, our children are our future!  VICTORY