When Should We Instruct Our Children
By bro Lee Tian Seng
As instructing children the way of the Lord is the duty of Christian parents, we should be concerned with the question of when we should start teaching our children.
Some Christian parents feel that it is too early to teach their young children about God and the Bible because they are too young to understand. However, there are good reasons for us to teach them from as young as an infant.
Children can learn many things even from infancy. We coax them to smile and to respond to sound, and they learn. We also teach them to say simple words and start reading books for them, and soon they learn language. So it is possible for them to learn about God and prayer, even though they may not fully understand spiritual things at this stage of their development.
The character and habits of children are formed at an early age. Therefore, it is good to start teaching them from a very young age when they are still receptive and untainted by the influence of sin in the world. When they become teenagers, it may be too late to teach and change them.
If we do not teach our children about God when they are young, Satan will teach them lies and tempt them. The Devil will snatch the child from us and from God. We do not want this to happen to our children.
The Bible has examples of parents teaching their children from young.
Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple when he was 12 years old. It is likely to begin at an earlier age.
Luke 2:41-42 - His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
Timothy learned the Scripture from his mother and grandmother from childhood, and that helped him in his faith when he became an adult.
2 Timothy 1:4-5 - Greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 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.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 - But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
In the Parable of the Sower, the seed that fell on the good soil brought forth a good plant that bore much fruit. The good soil represents one who has a pure and open heart. Similarly, when we plant the Word of God in the tender hearts of our children, it will grow and bear fruit. If we delay in teaching our children, the risk is that Satan, and the riches and troubles of the world will distract them from learning. Not receiving and obeying the Gospel, they will be eternally lost.
Matthew 13:18-23 - “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Therefore, we should teach our children when they are young rather than when they have grown older.