"Because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:14b,15)
Nothing brings me more joy as a parent than spending time teaching the Word of God to my daughter. Every night, my wife (Amy) and I review a couple of bible stories, sing some verses that are put to song, take prayer requests, pray, and close by reciting Psalm 4:8 with our daughter (Ellie Kate). We've been following this format for the past year or so. Along the way, we have become much more efficient. When this process began, it took nearly 30 minutes or so to complete all of these events. Now it only takes 15 minutes or so. A few months ago, after we had finished reciting Psalm 4:8, Ellie Kate called Amy back into the room just to tell her, "Mama, Jesus love me!" The flood gates opened up. Amy came into the living room and told me what she had said. I couldn't have been more touched! I couldn't have been prouder!
The one thing about being a daddy that continues to grip my soul is the burden I have in my heart to see my children come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That my children will follow Him. That my children will have abundant life in both the here and the hereafter. And although I know that I cannot make that personal decision for them, I can prepare them. I can teach them the Word of God. I can, as the Scripture teaches, make them "wise for salvation." I cannot save them; I CAN prepare them! What an awesome privilege! What an awesome responsibility!
Encouragingly, one of Barna's recent polls discovers that, "Nine out of ten parents of children under age 13 (85%) believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters, while 11% said their church is primarily responsible. (2003) " (link: http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=44 ) It is a delight to know that parents understand that the primary teaching role does not belong to the church. Rather, they understand that they have the awesome responsibility to prepare their children spiritually.
Timothy was a disciple of the apostle Paul. Since Paul's early days in Lystra (Acts 14:6-23), Timothy had been a faithful pupil, friend, and co-laborer in the work of the Gospel. In addition, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. In his greeting to Timothy in 1 Timothy, Paul writes, "To Timothy my true son in the faith." Timothy had been discipled by not just an apostle; he had been discipled by a father figure. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul writes to Timothy, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life...continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it."
One of the most important ways that parents teach their children is by their example. Our way of life. Our faith. Our perseverance. Our struggles. Our dependency upon God. This is Faith in Practice 101. If we fail in this regard, we do a tremendous disservice to our children. Then Paul turns to lesson number two, "and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures." Evidently, Timothy had received a godly upbringing from his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois. Paul had reminded him of the fact that he had known the Scriptures since infancy. He had been "made wise for salvation" by his family. He was taught the Scriptures. Saturated. Trained. Reminded. Corrected. Rebuked. Encouraged. Taught.
As we continue to raise our children in hopes that they will come to that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, let us not be passive, spiritual babysitters. Rather, let us take the opportunities to set the example of "faith in practice" and to make our children "wise for salvation" through the intentional teaching of the Word of God. May we start this with urgency and courage when our children are but infants. May we continue teaching as they grow.
May God find us faithful in realizing that every parent is a teacher.