Teaching Children To Love God And Others
By Kim Butts
“…The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ …And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
We are living in a perilous culture during a particularly ominous time. All around us, the Lord and His Word are being systematically dishonored by the society in which we live. Many Christian homes are succumbing to the seduction of our culture. If you ask children what is most important, you might be frightened at their responses. Parents, the Lord has charged us to train up our children…and though many of us are trying hard to follow the narrow road, Satan is continuously widening it into a superhighway of distractions and evil intent.
Are your children prepared to stand in the face of what may lie ahead? Do they love the Lord with all of their hearts, with all of their souls, with all of their minds and with all of their strength? Do your children speak and act in God-honoring ways? Are they respectful? Do they love others as they love themselves? Are acts of service, giving and mercy part of their lives as the Holy Spirit manifests His fruit in and through them? Do they, or are they learning to draw apart with the Lord in prayer each day? Are they studying, memorizing and meditating upon His Word? Do they have an intense desire to see this lost world reached for Christ?
The world is darkening and Satan is determined to destroy as many people as possible – especially children. When the troubles of this world tend to overwhelm us, it sometimes seems beyond our frail abilities to maintain a home that consistently honors Christ. However, the Lord we serve is living and He loves us beyond any evil the enemy has planned for us, or for our children. Because He is able when we are not, we must renew our resolve to go to our knees on our children’s behalf, and to strengthen our determination to raise up a godly generation.
Here are some practical ways to keep a Christ-centered home in a Satan-centered world from the perspective of the two greatest commandments:
Love the Lord Your God
Train your children to love God by using the first four of the Ten Commandments.
Commandment One: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). Teach your children that there is ONLY ONE GOD! Help them to know that the only true way to God is through Jesus Christ. There are many gods worshiped in the world, but only God is the Truth. Take time to worship God as a family each day. Read the Psalms, sing together, and pray! He alone is worthy of our praise!
Commandment Two: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:4-5). Talk about things that might be idols in your home – things that would take up or consume our time and thoughts: television, video games, computers, etc. Anything that becomes more important to us than God is an idol. If you have idols in your lives, decide what you should do.
Commandment Three: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). Be diligent about the language your children use. Teach them to be careful to honor the Lord’s name in every circumstance. His name is holy. Say together: “Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29:2).
Commandment Four: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Teach your children to take a day of rest that involves enjoying family and spending time in worship and prayer together. God will honor your efforts to rest as He has commanded.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Loving others is a natural reflection of our love for the Lord. We demonstrate love for other people through following the next six commandments.
Commandment Five: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12). Parents – this is crucial! If your children do not honor and respect you, how can they possibly honor God…and other people? Remember that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Prov. 22:15). We must teach them to speak and act in respectful ways. Do not allow disrespect to grow in your home…because once it takes root – it will spread! Read through the Book of Proverbs as a family, because there is great wisdom about children, fathers and mothers, as well as about all of the commandments.
Commandment Six: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). Teach your children the importance of ALL life, from conception.
Commandment Seven: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Teach your children the importance of loving and being faithful to one’s spouse and living lives of sexual purity before marriage.
Commandment Eight: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Our society encourages the idea that anything is okay as long as you do not get caught. Teach your children that it is never right to do the wrong thing. Taking what does not belong to them is clearly against God’s commandment.
Commandment Nine: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16). Children must learn very early that truthfulness honors God. We must never say or do anything that is not absolutely true or honest. If we slip into what is false, we will not be trustworthy in the eyes of others. Teach your children that in order to truly love others as God commands, their speech and their actions must always be truthful.
Commandment Ten: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:17). The key to obeying this command is learning to be content with what we have rather than wanting what others have. Teach your children to be content (read Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:11-13) in every circumstance, by being a good example of that in your home.
It is interesting to note that these six commandments are mentioned in the Bible seven or eight times each. There is no doubt that the Lord desires our obedience in these areas! Because of this, we must be diligent about impressing them on our children. We must talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up (Deut. 6:4-9).
“…This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).