By bro Lee Tian Seng
Children not only learn from the teaching of their parents, but also from their examples. They are quick at learning from observing what their parents do. They even mimic how their parents walk, talk, and express themselves. It is not surprising that children grow up behaving like their parents. The proverbial saying that a grown-up child is “a chip off the old block” is true. The children of Israel were like daughters who follow after their mothers. The mother refers to the Hittites, they were like them in that they worshipped idols and sinned against God.
Ezekiel 16:44 - Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: ‘Like mother, like daughter!’
A positive example is Timothy who learned from the faithfulness of his mother and grandmother. He saw the way that they lived from his young age, and this helped him in building up his faith.
2 Timothy 1:5 - When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.
A negative example is King Abijam who walked in all the sins of his father and was not faithful to the Lord, like many other kings of Israel and Judah.
1 Kings 15:3 - And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David
Children imitate both the good and bad characteristics of their parents. If children see their parents showing love and care towards the poor and sick, studying the Bible and serving God, would the children learn to be like them? On the other hand, if the mother loves to gossip about church members and the father loves to criticise the preacher, what is the likelihood that their children, who see them behaving in this way, grow up to be like them?
Therefore, it is important for parents to live an example of a Christian.
1 Timothy 4:12 - Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Parents who are good examples are better in showing their children how to live by the Word. Children, who find the Word of God too abstract, will find it easier to understand and internalise the truth when they see their parents demonstrate it in their lives.
James 1:22-25 - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
If parents are good examples, there will not be inconsistency between what they teach and how they live. Children do not readily accept inconsistencies they see in adults. It will hinder them from accepting the Word of God and wanting to be a Christian.
So, parents should learn live by God’s Word so as not to live in hypocrisy. Jesus said that the scribes and Pharisees had this problem - they did not do what they taught.
Matthew 23:1-3 - Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
Are there things in our lives that are not exemplary to our children? If there are, we should change so that we can effectively instruct our children to follow the way of the Lord.