“BE FRUITFUL and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) With those words to Adam and Eve, God instituted the family arrangement. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) Looking ahead, that first couple could envision an earth filled with their progeny—an extended family of perfect individuals living joyfully on earth and worshiping God. But Adam and Eve fell into sin, and the earth did not become filled with righteous, God-fearing people. (Romans 5:12) Instead, family life quickly deteriorated, and hatred, violence, and a lack of “natural affection” have prevailed, especially in these “last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Genesis 4:8, 23; 6:5, 11, 12.
Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. Though now a sinner, Adam was permitted by God to have children. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1-4) Like their father, Adam’s offspring had moral capacity and could learn to distinguish between right and wrong. They could be instructed about how to worship their Creator and the importance of loving him with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30; John 4:24; James 1:27) Furthermore, they could be taught to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with God. (Micah 6:8) As sinners, however, they would need to pay considerable attention in order to build a spiritually strong family.
What is of Real Value?
In these complicated, critical times, great effort must be expended so that children “who love the Lord” and who truly “hate evil.” (Psalm 97:10) Wise parents will make ’the very most of the time’ to meet this challenge. (Ephesians 5:15-17) If you are a parent, how can you do this? First, establish priorities, giving attention to “what is of real value,” including the teaching and teaching of your children. (Philippians 1:10, 11) Second, simplify your life-style. You may have to put aside activities that are not really necessary. Or you may need to divest yourself of unnecessary possessions that take time to maintain. As a Christian parent, you will never regret that you made the effort needed to raise God-fearing children.—Proverbs 29:15, 17.
Spending time with your children, especially when centered on spiritual matters, is well worth the effort and is one of the best ways to keep a family united. But do not leave this to chance. Schedule certain times you will spend together. This does not mean just being in the same house, each one doing his own thing. Children flourish best with daily personal attention. Love and concern need to be displayed unstintingly. Even before they decide to have children, married couples must seriously consider this important responsibility. (Luke 14:28) Then they will not regard the rearing of children as a chore. Instead, they will view it as a blessed privilege.—Genesis 33:5; Psalm 127:3.
Teach by Word and Example
Teaching your children to love God begins with your own love for him. A strong love for God will move you to follow all his instructions faithfully. This includes bringing children up in “the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) God counsels parents to set the example for their children, to communicate with them, and to teach them. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 states:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.
And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then]
You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, 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.
By frequent admonition and repetition, you can inculcate God’s commandments in your children. Thus, your offspring will sense the love you have for God and, in turn, will be influenced to develop a closeness to him as well.—Proverbs 20:7.
Children are eager to learn. They are keen listeners and observers and are quick to imitate your example. When they see that you are not materialistic, this helps them to learn how to follow Jesus’ counsel. You teach them not to be anxious about material things but to ‘seek first of all His kingdom.’ (Matthew 6:25-33) By engaging in wholesome, up-building conversation about Bible truth, God’s congregation, and the appointed Pastor’s, you teach your children to respect God and to appreciate his spiritual provisions. Since children are quick to note inconsistencies, oral instruction must be backed up by conduct and attitude that demonstrate your own deep appreciation for spiritual things. What a blessing it is when parents see that their good example has produced in their children wholehearted love for God!—Proverbs 23:24, 25.
The value of teaching children about the love of Jesus Christ from an early age can be seen in an example from Venezuela. (2 Timothy 3:15) It involves a young married couple, Félix and Mayerlín. They are loving parents and Christians. When their son Felito was born, they were eager to do their utmost in raising him as a true worshiper of God. Mayerlín began reading aloud to Felito from a Bible stories book. At an early age, Felito seemed to recognize Moses and other people depicted in the book.
While still quite young, Felito began witnessing on his own. He fulfilled his desire to be walk with God, and later he was baptized. In time, Felito became a Pastore. His parents comment:
As we watch our son’s progress, we realize that we owe it to God and his instruction.
Help Children to Grow Spiritually
There are dozens of magazines, hundreds of books, and thousands of Internet Web sites offering advice on how to raise children. Unfortunately, much of the advice does not always lead to the spiritual development of our children.
Even more disconcerting is when information you think you can trust turns out to be just plain wrong.
How thankful we are that God has provided abundantly for the instruction and spiritual development of families though his truthful and wise world, the Bible! Do you take full advantage of all the God has provided us through Bible teachings? Are you conducting Bible studies with your family?
A regular and consistent family Bible study is of paramount importance. Family Bible studies should always be conducted in a relaxed atmosphere. To make it instructive, enjoyable, and encouraging, good preparation is required. By being truly interested in what is important to your children, parents can learn what is in their children’s hearts and minds. One way to determine the effectiveness of a family bible study is by noting if all members of the household look forward to it.
Scriptural goals likewise contribute to a spiritually strong family, and parents should help their children establish these. Appropriate goals include reading the Bible daily, being born again and baptism. Other goals may include their participation in your churches ministerial programs and or functions.
Also necessary for strong spiritual health is regular church attendance. The apostle Paul admonished fellow believers, stating that:
And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,
Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
Children should be taught to listen and to participate attentively while at church functions. Preparation for church meetings is vital too, for the greatest benefit of church attendance comes from the right mindset prior to arriving at church. Singing praises together on the way to church, is a great way to get your children and yourself filed with the Holy Spirit prior to hearing the good news about Jesus Christ from your Pastor.
Maintaining the spirituality of the family is essential. (Psalm 119:93) One means of doing this is to discuss spiritual things with your family at every opportunity. Do you discuss the Bible with them daily? Do you remember to thank God in prayer for each day of life and for his bountiful provisions “when you lie down and when you get up”? (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) When your children observe your true (with emphasis) love for God reflected in everything you do, this will help them to find their own love for God.
At times, children will need guidance to deal successfully with problems or situations that arise. Rather than always telling them what to do, why not show them how to find God’s viewpoint on matters by encouraging them to read God’s word on the subject? Teaching children to make good use of the Bible and study guides will help them to develop a close relationship with God. And when they share the benefits of their Bible research with other members of the household, the spirituality of the family is further enhanced.
Rely Fully on God
What about single-parent families? These face additional challenges when it comes to raising children. But single parents, do not lose heart! Success is possible, as shown by the many single parents who have trusted in God, who have obediently applied his counsel, and have raised fine, spiritually strong children. (Proverbs 22:6) Of course, Christians who are single parents need to rely fully on God. They must have faith that he will provide help.—Psalm 121:1-3.
Wise parents realize that ‘A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) Essential to building a child’s mind and body are leisure time and balanced, wholesome recreation. Up-building Christian music and especially singing songs of praise to God will help a child to develop a healthy attitude that can play an important role in strengthening his relationship with God. (Colossians 3:16) Youth is also the time to prepare to be a God-fearing adult, so that enjoyment of life can continue forever in Heaven.—Galatians 6:8.
God wants all Christian families to succeed as strong spiritual units. If we truly love God and do our best to obey his Word, he will bless our efforts and will supply us with the strength needed to follow his inspired direction. (Isaiah 48:17; Philippians 4:13) Remember that the opportunity you now have to teach and train your children is limited and will not be repeated. Do your very best to apply the counsel of God’s Word, and God will bless your efforts to build a spiritually strong family.