Three Ways to Help Your Children Be Doers of the Word
by Kristina Matz
James exhorts us to be doers of the Word and not simply hearers (James 1:22-25). This powerful passage in Scripture reminds us that Christianity is not about knowledge in and of itself. The goal is not for us to simply know God’s Word, but to know how to apply God’s Word to our everyday life. When it comes time to deliver our sweet Esther in July, I don’t want a midwife who simply knows all of the answers, I want one who actually knows what she’s doing! There must be a “doing” aspect of our lives that accompanies the knowledge of His Word that God has blessed us with.
And though many of us have young children in our home that are not yet saved, we know that strong adherence to God’s Word is the best thing for our children. This is the basis for biblical parenting! We aim our children at the Lord well before He graciously saves them, we pray (Deuteronomy 6:7). So if James is commanding that Christians be doers of the Word, then we know it is best to train our children to be doers of the Word. Let’s look at three ways that we can help our children to accomplish this.
Train Them to Know His Word
Before we can expect our children to “do” God’s Word, we must help them to “know” God’s Word. And while we do not want their knowledge to stay stagnant, they cannot do what they do not know. So, how do we do it? First, we need to remember that children are sponges. Just because we struggle with certain things does not mean that they will. Let’s assume that our children are able to absorb much and, therefore, let’s provide them with plenty to absorb.
One simple way to teach our children God’s Word is to read it to them. Psalm 1 tells us that blessed is the man who meditates on the Word of God day and night (Psalm 1:2). This gives us a clear example of daily engaging with the Bible. Whether we choose the morning, noon, or evening, let us find a consistent time that we can be opening the Word of God with our children and reading it to them. When they are very young, start with small passages and be sure to talk about it and explain things as you read through it. Ask one or two questions to help them get involved! Once they are old enough to read, have them read the Bible on their own each day in addition to family Bible time. I can think of no better book to read than the one that God, Himself, wrote.
Aside from reading the Bible with our children, let us teach our children to memorize the Scriptures and store them up in their heart (Psalm 119:11). As soon as our children can speak clearly, they can begin to memorize Scripture. This might be two or three years old depending on the child. Start with single verses and then work your way up to memorizing larger passages with them. (This will also greatly bless our own practice of memorization!) We should choose passages that are both instructive (Ephesians 6:1 and Philippians 2:14, for example) as well as those that simply incline our hearts to worship the Lord (Psalm 96) or teach us more about His character (Colossians 1:15-20).
Demonstrate Obedience to His Word
Our children are watching us. All. The. Time. The most powerful witness we have into their little lives is the life that they see us living. As we train our children to know the Word of God, let them see the practical application of that Word in our own lives.
There is a lot that God, in His loving kindness, exhorts us to do in His Word. For the sake of this point, let us simplify all of it into just two simple commandments. (Simple, not easy.) When asked directly what the most important commandment was, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)”
As we seek to set the example of being a doer of the Word, let us start with prioritizing the Lord above everything else. May our children see us prioritize our own time in the Word and in prayer each and every day. May they see us regularly attending church so that we might continually grow in our understanding of God’s Word. And May they see us forsake our own comfort, as well as theirs if need be, in order to do the things that God has called us to do.
Second, may we love our spouse and our children as we love ourselves. Let us become the greatest servant (Matthew 23:11) in our home. When Christ said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets”, He was letting them know that by loving God and loving others, they would fulfill all of the other commandments that God had spoken. If we want to fulfill the will of God and bear much fruit, let us be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23).
Guide Them to Do His Word
It is necessary for a child to know God’s Word. It is also helpful for them to watch their parents set an example of doing God’s Word. But even so, they still need help connecting the dots from head knowledge to doing in their own little lives. This is where our guidance becomes supremely important.
A bowling alley does a great job at perfectly setting up ten pins at the end of each bowling lane. It even provides a round ball and a wonderfully smooth lane for that ball to travel down. But with no one to direct the ball, all of that set up is pretty pointless. The same could be said for the training of our children. Set up alone is not enough. We must guide their little hearts in the right direction. This is true training. But how do we do that? What does training our children to be doers of the Word look like?
We need to take every opportunity (Deuteronomy 6:7) that God gives us in a day to connect the dots for them. A three or four year old may be able to recite Philippians 2:14, but the next time we hear them complain or we experience them talking back, we need to explain to them that they are disobeying God’s command to do all things without grumbling or disputing. While a child may know Proverbs 15:1 by heart, when they scream at their younger sibling we need to be there to ask them if they were having soft words. We need to take these moments to show our children what it looks like for them to truly obey God’s Word, rather than just know it.
Another great tool to get us started with this practice is our Choose Wisely Cards. These cards use the fun of storytelling to help your child think through real-life situations from a biblical worldview. After listening to a story they can relate to, they are challenged to think about how they would respond to that situation. And once they give an initial response, we take things a step further by helping them to look at Scripture as the basis for their response. Each card challenges them to think about what they know and really apply that knowledge to real-life situations that they experience every day!
Application is an often overlooked step in biblical reading and study. May we, as parents, not fail to train this vital step into the critical thinking process of even our youngest kiddos!