1 Timothy 4:8-12 (NIV)Every night before bed I read Max a page from the Veggie Tales devotional book he got for Christmas. I’m pretty sure Jack listens, but he rarely speaks. A fair amount of the lessons are slightly over Max’s head, though sometimes it’s not the lesson so much as the language. But we keep going, night after night. Part of the persistence can be attributed to Max’s love of routine — he won’t let me forget.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
But another part is my use of this book as something of a crutch. It gives me, each night, an opportunity to discuss with my kids something a little more serious than I might otherwise mention. Sure, the boys might not be old enough for deep theological conversation. But their religious education, such as it is, need not be limited to stories like Noah’s Ark and Zaccheus climbing the tree to hear Jesus.
There’s no need for me to look down on them spiritually simply because they are young. I encourage them to rise to their skill level (and not be constrained by age) in other endeavors, so why not matters of faith? Surely they could set an example for their peers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.
But that’s only going to happen on two conditions. One is if they understand those concepts and why they’re important. It runs a lot deeper than just pretending to be loving and pure in the same way they might don a fireman’s coat and demand to be called “chief.” The second condition is the presence of reliable adults to model these attributes — and for them to understand it is not humanity’s general instinct to be exemplary is each area of concern.
Tonight’s lesson for me is to remember my kids are not too young to be taught lessons of faith, nor are they too young to live, labor and strive in gratitude for the hope God provides. Godliness holds promise for this life and the life to come. Since we never know when the transition will happen from one to the next, it only makes sense to commit now to what it means to live a life of faith.
A prayer for May 23:
Lord, thank you for the reminder to take my children seriously. It can be all too easy to forget how important it is for me to carry myself in a manner they might be able to emulate, or to overlook my obligation to teach them about you simply because of their young age. It’s been made clear to me I’ll always have more to learn, always have room to grow, always have sin to scrub from my life. But just because it will go on as long as my body goes on does not mean I shouldn’t be striving hard right now. The same is true for my kids, and sometimes I need to be reminded their youth is no barrier to faith and hopefully gratitude for the ramifications of your love and redemption. Thank you for opening my eyes again. Amen.