Many moms and dads want to start teaching their children the Bible. Yet those same parents sometimes get paralyzed and never take their first step. The reason is simple … they just don't know where to start.
Here is one place you could start: The Book of Proverbs is replete with wisdom for life and parenting. The selected verses below are good for your whole family to learn together. They can become the centerpiece of your kitchen table discussions and a tour guide for difficult conversations.
The Book of Proverbs is arguably the most practical book in the entire Bible. So as you search for a place to start in the teaching and instruction of your children, why not start in a place that will make immediate impact? And that impact is not limited to your children … it will happen in mom and dad, too.
- Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.
- Proverbs 3:5-8 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
It is essential for children to learn of their dependence upon God. Starting while they are young will help for when they get older. (At the same time, it is never too late to start infusing them with truth.)
James 4:6 tell us, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Consider the magnitude of this truth. If we allow pride to take up residence in our children, we are poising them to be opposed by God. Grace comes to the humble, and humility only comes when we overcome the lie of self-sufficiency.
Proverbs 16:18 and 3:5-8 can be a great starting point for your children, and your family, to understand the problem with pride. With each small step they take toward humility, they move one small step from positioning themselves against God. This is always good.
The fear of the Lord
- Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- Proverbs 14:27 - The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.
Though the fear of the Lord is not very popular, it is very necessary. The two verses above are just a small, small sampling of the Scriptures that speak directly to the importance of fearing God.
Once we are aware of our dependency upon Him, we become aware of His power and sway over our lives. This cultivates a healthy fear. And that fear is the very starting point of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (see Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10).
It is much better for your children to fear the Lord than it is for them to fear you. He is infallible … you are not. He is all-powerful … you are not. He is sovereign … you are not. And, most practically, He is omnipresent … you are not.
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It is much better for your children to fear the Lord than it is for them to fear you.
Avoiding the fear of man
- Proverbs 29:25 - The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
Peer pressure is not unique to adolescents. It is everywhere. It is peer pressure that causes children to chaff against their parents: "I don't want my friend to think I'm weak and cooperative." It causes one sibling to leave another out: "This game is just for the big kids … not for you."
The Bible has a term for what we now call "peer pressure"—it is "fear of man." This does not only mean that you are afraid of a playground bully or a nasty neighbor. It means that you fear the opinion of another, and that fear controls you. It is important to note that, nearly everywhere you find "fear of man" in the Bible, you will find "fear of God" or "trust in God" right alongside it. These two "fears" are in conflict with one another and cannot reside peacefully together.
If we are to be successful in cultivating a healthy fear of God in our families and with our children, we must at the same time train ourselves away from the fear of man. Learning and memorizing this proverb will benefit your family now and throughout your lives.
Receiving instruction/criticism/wisdom from others
- Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
- Proverbs 15:32 - He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
Through the church, God calls us into relationships with others. These relationships are not optional; they are essential. So, too, is learning to receive what God wants to say to us through these relationships. This is no less true of an 8-year-old than it is of a 48-year-old. We all need wisdom, and God often chooses to give it through the mouth of a wise counselor.
We not only need to learn of the limited wisdom that we ourselves possess. We also need to learn of the importance of being surrounded by wise people. It is good to consider the advice of others. It is better if those others are wise and not foolish advisors.
Children, from toddlers to teenagers, resist depending on the wisdom of others. There is a good reason for that. They are people, just like us. This tendency is not limited to children … it covers us all. So committing these passages to our memories can go a long way toward preparing our hearts to accept counsel—wise counsel.
When life gets hard
- Proverbs 18:10 - The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.
It's difficult for children to understand hardships in life. Even when our children are teenagers, life gets very confusing when it's less than perfect. Do you recall the overwhelming sentiment that swept across the nation on 9/11? Why would God allow something like this?
The truth is that God does not always provide answers for why we experience hardships. That does not mean, however, that God does not provide help. Even in the midst of our confusion and lack of understanding, God provides a refuge for us in times of trouble.
Not every difficulty will hit your children when you are around. They need to know where to run when life gets hard on their own. They need to learn, like you do, that God is always present and always available for the righteous. And, in the midst of confusion, we sometimes need something more than understanding; we sometimes need safety. We need a safe place to be confused, hurt, or broken. In reply, God says, "Come to me."
When God and I disagree
- Proverbs 21:3 - To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.
God does not make light of our heartfelt sentiment. However, He does not make it His most prized goal. In more than just this verse, God lets us know that He desires our obedience. Not because we earn something by it, but because when we obey, we acknowledge with our actions that His wisdom is supreme … not ours.
God does delight in sacrifice. He delights in our service, in our passionate worship, in our love for Him. However, true love for God does not express itself in disobedience. So, even more than our sacrifices, God desires for us to do righteousness and justice.
When they are young, children have an opportunity to practice this proverb under their parents' authority. As they grow, that authority passes ultimately to its only deserving object—God Himself. Then as adults, and even as parents, we have a chance to model this verse for our children.
Most important of all
- Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
We desire for the springs of life to flow freely from the hearts of our children, our spouse, even ourselves. However, a neglected heart is full of dams and dikes, redirecting and blocking the otherwise free-flowing springs of life. Where have these obstacles come from?
They come from the sin we tolerate … from the wrong things we let in … from the good things we refuse to let in. Ultimately, they come from neglecting to watch over our hearts with all diligence. In the lives of our young children, they often come from neglecting to diligently watch over their hearts.
The truth behind this proverb will begin to equip everyone in your family to guard over their hearts. It will stand as a sentry when you can't be with your children. It will stand as a reminder when you fail to be as aware as you ought. God can, and will, use this verse to prompt proper thinking and pure decision-making in your life … and the lives of your family.
A great beginning
Once you've committed these to memory as a family, celebrate together. It is a great feat to set aside the time that is necessary to do this … and then a greater one to actually do it. However, don't stop there. The Word of God is full of wisdom for both life and godliness. Find other proverbs, move to some of the psalms, or consider the gospels or other books from the New Testament. Regardless of where you go in the Scriptures, the key is to keep on going. God will make good on this promise:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).
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