Lessons To Teach Children
By Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
[Though originally written for Sunday school teachers, the following material can be helpful to others with children under their care.]
Teach them morality. “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psa. 34:13-14). Now, we never teach morality as the way of salvation. God forbid that we should ever mix up man’s works in any way with the redemption which is in Christ Jesus! “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Yet we teach morality while we teach spirituality; and I have always found that the Gospel produces the best morality in all the world. I would have a Sunday school teacher watchful over the morals of the boys and girls under his care, speaking to them very particularly of those sins which are most common to youth. I would have the teacher be very particular in mentioning these evils one by one; for it is of little avail talking to them about sins in the mass, you must take them one by one, just as David did.
First look after the tongue: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.” Then look after the whole conduct: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Morality, however, by itself is comparatively a small thing.
The best part of what you teach is godliness. I said, not “religion,” but godliness. Many people are religious after a fashion, without being godly. Many have all the externals of godliness, all the outside of piety; such men we call “religious,” but they have no right thought about God. They think about their place of worship, their Sunday, their books – but nothing about God. He who does not respect God, pray to God, love God – is an ungodly man, whatever his external religion may be.
Labor to teach the child always to have an eye to God; write on his memory these words, “You, O God, see me!” Bid him remember that his every act and thought are under the eye of God. Lay stress upon the fact that there is a God who notices everything that happens. Oh, that we were more godly ourselves; that we talked more of godliness, and that we loved godliness better!
The third lesson is the evil of sin. If the child does not learn that, he will never learn the way to heaven. None of us ever knew what a Savior Christ was – until we knew what an evil thing sin was. If the Holy Spirit does not teach us the exceeding sinfulness of sin, we shall never know the blessedness of salvation. Let us ask His grace, then, when we teach, that we may always be able to lay stress upon the abominable nature of sin.
“The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth” (Psa. 34:16). Do not spare your child; let him know what sin leads to. Do not, like some people, be afraid of speaking plainly and broadly concerning the consequences of sin. Children need to learn their need of a Savior. Be thorough and honest with them. Be tender – but be true.
But you will not have done half enough unless you teach carefully the fourth lesson – the absolute necessity of a change of heart. “The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart; and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psa. 34:18). Oh! may God enable us to keep this constantly before the minds of those we teach – that there must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that good works will be of no avail unless there is a new nature, that the most arduous duties and the most earnest prayers will all be as nothing, unless there be a true and thorough repentance for sin, and an entire forsaking of sin through the grace and mercy of God. Tell the children they are ruined by the Fall, and that there is salvation for them only by being redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
In the fifth place, tell the children of the joy and blessedness of being Christians. “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (Psa. 34:22). I need not tell you how to talk about that theme; for if you know what it is to be a Christian, you will never be short of subject matter. Truly was it said: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psa. 32:1). “Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust” (Psa. 40:4). Yes, truly, blessed is the man, the woman, the child who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, and whose hope is in Him.
Always lay a stress upon this point, that the righteous are a blessed people, that the chosen family of God, redeemed by blood and saved by power, are a blessed people while here below, and that they will be a blessed people forever in heaven above. Let your children see that you belong to that blessed company. If they know you are in trouble, if it is possible, come to your class with a smiling face, so that your scholars may be able to say: “Teacher is a blessed man, although he is bowed down by his troubles.” Always seek to keep a joyous face, that your boys and girls may know that your religion is a blessed reality. Let this be one main point of your teaching, that though “many are the afflictions of the righteous,” yet “the Lord delivers him out of them all. ...None of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (Psa. 34:19, 22).
Thus I have given you five lessons; and now let me solemnly say that, with all the instruction you may give to your children, you must all of you be deeply conscious that you are not capable of doing anything in the securing of the child’s salvation – but that it is God Himself who, from the first to the last, must effect it all. You are simply a pen; God may write with you – but you cannot write anything of yourself. Be, therefore, always mindful of this, that you must be first taught of God yourself – and then you must ask God to use you to teach; for unless a higher Teacher than you works and instructs the child – the child must perish. It is not your instruction which can save the souls of your children; it is the blessing of God the Holy Spirit accompanying your labors! May God bless and crown your efforts with abundant success! He will surely do so if you are instant in prayer, constant in supplication. Never yet did the earnest teacher or preacher “labor in vain in the Lord,” and often has it been seen that bread cast upon the waters has been found after many days.
– Condensed. www.gracegems.org