Here’s my latest version of “Kids Say the Funniest Things” – and it brought to mind such an important principle for our parenting!
I work with the Kindergarten through Second Grade children at our church on Wednesday nights. Last week, during Bible verse memory time, I had a 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy in my group. The girl was studying Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.”
At the top of the page in her Awana book was a picture of a boy with a plate of food in front of him, and some words printed next to the picture describing what the verse was about. Once she had memorized the verse, I asked her to tell me what it meant.
She glanced up at the picture (obviously not reading the words), and said, “Oh, it means, don’t eat your food too fast.” I smiled and said, “No, that’s not what it means.”
The little boy started saying, “I know what it means! I know what it means!” He’s quite smart for his age, so I figured he probably did. I said, “Okay, tell me what the verse means.” He started making stabbing motions toward himself, and said, “It means don’t kill people!”
He obviously mistook the word “murmuring” for “murdering!” After I gently told him that his description was also incorrect, I explained that the verse meant to do everything without whining and complaining. Honestly, I think they had two thoughts – they both liked their interpretations of the verse better, and they also probably understood that they’re guilty of whining and complaining at times (aren’t we all!) What the verse really meant was more convicting than the meanings they had come up with.
This experience reminded me of the importance of explaining God’s Word to our children. While memorizing Scripture is great, how much more valuable it is when our kids learn to apply those verses in their lives.
Our daughters are at the age now where they sometimes hear views that differ from ours. Whether it’s from their friends, at their Christian school, through media, or in other arenas, they are slowly being exposed to a wide range of opinions about what’s right and wrong, how they should act, and what they should believe.
Since they’re 16 and 14, my husband and I are able to actually have discussions with them about these topics. My burden lately is that every time a new question comes up, we will not just share our opinion, but that we will point them straight to the Bible, and share specific verses about why we believe what we believe. Because in the long run – and actually not long from now for our 16-year-old! – she will have to make her own judgments and decisions about what she will and won’t do, and I want her to decide based on God’s Word. It’s not enough for her to say “Well, that’s how I was brought up.” That will fail her at some point. Her convictions need to be based in the truth of God’s Word if she’s going to stand firm.
Over Sunday lunch, a certain movie was the topic of conversation. While we had already decided that it wasn’t going to be viewed by our family, I wanted the girls to think it through, and come to a conclusion about why we should or shouldn’t watch it (even if this particular decision had already been made for them). With teenagers, we are way beyond the point of “Do this/Don’t do this because I said so.” We are on the threshold of our daughters making all their choices on their own, so it’s vital that we point them to the Bible. Part of our training them is to help them learn to think critically and apply what they know from the Bible to every situation.
No matter what age your kids are, get them thinking! Help them understand the Bible, not just regurgitate its facts or spout off verses that they don’t comprehend. If they’re saved, the Holy Spirit can take the Word of God, use it to convict them of wrong, and show them the right way to live.