How to Teach Your Children to Think Biblically
by Kristina Matz
Scripture teaches us that we are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). And Christ, Himself, told His disciples that all evil comes from within our own hearts.
“All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” - Mark 7:23
These two truths should remind us that not one of us is naturally conditioned to think biblically. It is only through the gift of salvation and the continual training of our minds with Scripture (1 Timothy 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 5:14) that this begins to happen. And for any child that is being raised inside of a Christian home, we can give them a great head start by beginning the training of their minds from infancy! Though we know we must trust their salvation to the Lord, we must do our best as their parents to aim them at His throne from the moment we first hold them in our arms. But what does that look like and how do we practically teach our children to think biblically? Here are three simple steps that we can start doing today!
Teach Our Children to Know the Bible
In chapter six of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites of the importance of keeping all of God’s statutes and rules. God’s great loving-kindness promised good for His people if they would continue in obedience (Deuteronomy 6:3). Moses went on to remind the Israelites of the great importance of teaching these commandments diligently to their children.
“You shall teach them diligently to 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.” - Deuteronomy 6:7
This is one of the most instructive passages for parents in the Bible. We can see clearly that it is our duty to diligently teach all of God’s commandments to our children. And this is not a once and done kind of deal. This needs to be a continual and daily practice within our homes. Only with this kind of consistency will our children truly grow to know the Bible.
It is powerful to remember that when Moses was giving these instructions to the Israelites before they took possession of the Promised Land, he only had access to the law that had been given to him on Mount Sanai from the Lord. Today, we have the entirety of Scripture. This not only includes the Law but expounds on it by digging straight to the heart of our depravity (Matthew 5:17-48). We needn’t be fearful of teaching our children God’s “do’s” and “don't’s” and the reality of our sinful state before Him. A right understanding of God’s holiness and man’s sin will only serve to provide a greater posture of gratitude and worship for the grace and mercy of our Lord. And like we see all throughout Scripture, God’s rules are meant for our good and for the good of our children. So read the Bible to your children every day. Read the Old Testament. Read the New Testament. Read it again and again and again and then open it up and read it some more.
Teach Our Children to Understand the Bible
I could teach our four-year-old multiplication facts by quizzing her daily with flashcards. I could amaze everyone around her with her incredible knowledge of such “big girl” concepts. But despite all of her knowledge of the facts, her understanding would still be lacking. Teaching facts to our children is lovely, but its use is little more than decor if they do not understand those facts.
The same is true for biblical knowledge. While we must, of course, start with knowledge, we must be careful that we never separate our goal to connect true understanding. We need to give time for questions and explanations as we read through the Word with our children. Sometimes their questions are simple and sometimes they are quite “big”. But whatever the question, may we never avoid the answer. Every question about God and His character is a hunger in the best direction. We want to do our part to answer their questions and increase their appetite.
And as we teach even our youngest children about an enormous and awe-inspiring God, there will be times that they are “not quite there”. Sometimes their questions won’t have a neat and tidy answer simply because God is God and we are His creation, fully unable to neatly describe every truth about our Creator. Tedd Tripp, the author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, exhorts parents to “Give your children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of.” While we always need to aim for understanding as we equip our children with the knowledge of God’s Word, I pray we never shy away from a topic because their understanding hasn’t quite caught up with the answer.
Teach Our Children to Think the Bible
Here is where we begin to really connect the dots for our kiddos. They know what the Word says, they understand what it means, but what do they do next?
In a world with drive-thru’s that cook for you, devices that entertain you, and technology that answers questions for you, the temptation to stop thinking is a very real thing. Scripture exhorts us often to meditate on the Word of God, but this practice is rarely done anymore. The word meditate that we see in the Bible is in direct opposition to the word meditate that is used often in our culture. One means the clearing of the mind while another means the filling of the mind. It is the biblical exhortation to meditate that denotes an intentional filling of the mind with God’s Word. “Chewing” on it much like a cow chews its cud, bringing it up again and again. So while the world makes every effort to encourage us to think less for ourselves, we must teach our children how to think more for themselves. And we always want their guide to be the truths that they’ve learned from the Bible.
When a situation comes up during the day that relates to something you recently read, make the connection for them. For example, if you were recently reading in Mark 9:33-37 and now one of your children is aiming at pride and greatness, come alongside them and remind them of Christ’s command to serve one another. Help them to make the connection. When Christ told us that “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (v. 35), He meant that we needed to serve in every situation that He provides. And here He has provided a sweet opportunity for your little one to apply their knowledge and understanding to the way they think through this real-life situation.
This task of connecting the dots can often feel overwhelming. With so many situations coming at us throughout the day, it is hard to know when to stop and have these conversations. That is why we recently created the Choose Wisely Cards. Part of teaching our children how to think biblically is retraining our own minds as parents when it comes to engaging in these teachable moments. The Choose Wisely Cards provide the perfect opportunity for both parent and child. While we engage our children through playful storytelling to their own real-life situations, we also teach ourselves how to take everyday situations and redeem them for continued training.
I pray that we all resolve today to help our children to know the Bible better, to understand the Bible better, and to set their minds to think biblically about their lives. A child who knows how to think biblically about their own motives and behaviors is one step closer to repentance at the foot of the cross.