Children are excellent imitators of adults. Children learn by imitation. What adults do and say and how adults speak and act are easily picked up by children. They could exactly copy them. Children mirror the ways of adults around them. They have excellent wit and aptitude to clone actions of others.
I am often surprised at how my sons speak. Sometimes, I could hear myself talking in the way they respond. Sometimes, I could see my husband in how they move, talk, and react. These scenes can be a play of comedy sometimes, at other times unpleasant, especially when I realized they caught a behavior they were not supposed to. Most of the time, they are eye openers to us that as parents we need to be careful in how we speak and live before our children.
Of many things I wanted my children to learn, grow, and be excellent at, I am most concerned with their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing I would like to see them imitating me or their father, it would be a life grounded in faith to Jesus. Among other things, I pray, they would imitate fear of God and obedient walk with God. As parents, it is our duty to set the path for our chilldren towards knowing God and living for Him. The responsibility to train the child and to instill in them the fear of God rests on the shoulders of the parents.
“These words, which I command you today, shall be on your heart; and 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 up.”– Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (WEB)
“You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”– Ephesians 6:4 (WEB)
Parents can direct a path of faith for their children. This does not apply only to fathers and mothers and their children but to every one who has the responsibility to care, rear, guide, and train children whether they be related by blood or not. Some even have “spiritual parents” who are treated as second Moms and Dads because they are the ones who give spiritual, moral, and emotional support to the person.
Today is a very important event in a child’s life. How we spend our time today with our children matters and it affects their way of thinking and living in the future. But, the Scripture opened my mind to understanding how as parents we need to ensure that our children shall continue remembering God and fearing His name even in later years.
Joshua 22 tells of the story when the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh put up an altar along the border of the land of Canaan (Joshua 22:11). All Israelites in Canaan thought that the altar meant that they rebelled against God (Joshua 22:12-20). But, the children of Reuben, of Gad, and the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh explained a very important thing that showed how much they value their faith to God and how much they cared that even generations after their children shall continue to fear God.
“‘For Yahweh has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no portion in Yahweh.” ’ So your children might make our children cease from fearing Yahweh. Therefore we said, ‘Let’s now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice; but it will be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may perform the service of Yahweh before him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings;’ that your children may not tell our children in time to come, ‘You have no portion in Yahweh.’ Therefore we said, ‘It shall be, when they tell us or our generations this in time to come, that we shall say, Behold the pattern of Yahweh’s altar, which our fathers made, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice; but it is a witness between us and you.’”– Joshua 22:25-28
The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar not to rebel against God but to provide a witness to make sure that someday, their children still worship the God of Israel and to make sure that their future generation shall not cease fearing God.
As parents, what could we give to our children to stand as witness of our faith in God? What reminder can we leave to our children that they should stay in the path of fearing the Lord and living for God?
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”– Proverbs 22:6 (WEB)