– Charles Spurgeon
Child experts tell us that by age 3, a child’s pattern for life has been nearly set in concrete, so it’s a great idea to begin early in training up children in the Lord for the purpose of which Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). This doesn’t mean that if you train up a child in the ways of God that they won’t depart from it as an adult but it’s more likely that they won’t. To fail to do so would turn this proverb into the opposite result; “If you don’t train up a child in the way he or she should go and he or she will surely depart from it.”
God in the Conversation
When parents consistently speak about God and His desire for us to live in obedience, children will begin to understand that they will reap consequences for their actions if they depart from obeying the Lord. In the Old Testament, parents were told, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 11:19) which means that if you are often speaking about God when they get up, during the day, and when they lie down at night, it will become instilled in them by the time they’re an adult.
Do What I Say
If you are training up your child in the ways of the Lord but not walking in those ways yourself, then surely Charles Spurgeon’s words are true because if we train up a child in the way that they should go and not go there ourselves, they will see the hypocrisy in it and see that having a relationship with God is simply not true to them because more is caught than taught and they can’t hear your words because your actions are drowning them out. They won’t do as you say but they’ll do just as you do.
When a child has been trained to brush their teeth in a certain way from since youth, they’ll likely stick to that same method throughout the rest of their life because they’re basically on autopilot by that time. It’s about ten times as hard to unlearn something as it is to learn something new in the first place, so if you are teaching your children about God and what He requires, and then live out those same instructions. This should make it more likely that they’ll follow your example.
If you are a parent or a grandparent, make God a topic of conversation as often as opportunities come up. God is going to hold parents accountable for the job they with their children or the negligence or neglect of proper parenting. We must therefore start early with our children, we must be consistent in our words and actions, we must do what we tell them they should do, and by the time they’re an adult, it should be second nature to live a life that is pleasing to God.