By Nena Arias
Research shows the surprising resiliency of faith as it passes from parents to children. This clearly corroborates what God has always known, and the importance of what He commands and instructs parents to do in Deuteronomy regarding their children in order to keep His truth and blessings alive throughout generations. God is committed for the long haul to work out His perfect plan for the human race and so should all of us who are in covenant with Him. God-fearing believers must not only be thinking of their lifetime but of building a lasting heritage to pass on. Failure to do so is outright selfish and falls short of what God expects. This is what God admonishes parents to do:
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—”
The success in building a faith heritage is spelled out in the first part of this passage, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.”
More than mere instruction, children learn by example. Actions do speak louder than words. ‘Do as I say not as I do’ has never worked in the long run. No matter how much cultural changes take place, the principle of teaching by example will always work. When I hear parents complain that biblical principles are “old-fashioned,” or “too strict,” and we must catch up with the times to make Christianity “attractive” to the young people, I cringe. That does not denote the kind of deep-rooted faith or knowledge of the God of the Bible that Christian parents want to introduce their children to.
Something to keep in mind is that while some children receive this teaching gladly and begin to apply it to their lives, others respond with indifference or rebellion. The latter is very hurtful and can be discouraging to parents who know they have done a good job in instructing their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
How do faithful parents raise children to become faithful adults? One basic principle to always remember is that good seeds never die, which is why Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The best heritage parents can give their children is not wealth or material possessions but tried and true principles that will carry them through all the challenges of life and guide them into the next one far beyond this earthly planet.
Parents must seek to reproduce biblical faith in their children even at the risk of them being signaled out amid an increasingly individualistic godless society whose religious faith is only a facade. A parent’s influence in passing on their intensity of faith, agreement with the full counsel of God’s word, the Bible, and the importance of applying that knowledge to all areas of life, including civic life, will ensure that Christians in every generation will continue to be “salt and light” to a lost and darkened world.
When God’s word states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is to ensure that young people see the importance and receive the inspiration of faithful and consistent footsteps to honor God as exemplified by their parents and this awakens the desire in them to also pattern their lives in like manner as they see how fulfilling it is to do things God’s way.
The cultural change for several generations has been to seek greater individualism and away from the collective family focus as it was in times past. This cultural change assumes that the family is not doing a good job, and for the most part this is true, but not entirely. I am happy to report that in every generation there is a faithful remnant.
Keep in mind that just like people of biblical faith seek to instill this in their offspring, so do those who do not believe in the God of the Bible. According to statistics, about 30% of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, they have also been successful at passing on their worldview. The kids of this 30% are also following in their parent’s footsteps with no faith cultivation. However, these non-religious parents pass down very strong moral and ethical standards just as consistently. Thus the two camps continue to war against each other in this world.
The factors to ensure a successful faith heritage in your family are to provide consistent instruction and modeling. If parents aren’t consistent, the children won’t have a true model to follow after. In other words, don’t just teach them, live it!