Children—“An Inheritance from Jehovah”
KING SOLOMON described children as “a reward” and “an inheritance from Jehovah.” (Psalm 127:3) If you are a parent, surely you treasure your children! And if you are a child, surely you want to make your parents joyful and to live a happy, useful life with them!
2. What responsibility should children feel toward parents, and why? (Exodus 20:12)
2 After giving helpful advice to husbands and wives, the apostle Paul went on to counsel children and parents, in these words:
“You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Colossians 3:20, 21)
So, youths, remember that your parents love you, and that you should try to obey them in the everyday things of life. And parents, help your children to feel your love for them, and that they are an important part of the family unit.
3. When and how should correction be given? (Proverbs 13:24)
3 There are times, of course, when every child needs discipline, even with the literal rod, but this should be done—and not overdone—firmly and in love, without displaying the heat of anger. Children will come to appreciate deserved chastisement, and it will not ‘exasperate’ them. They will appreciate, too, the kindness and loving care that they receive at other times.
MAKING CHILDREN “WISE FOR SALVATION”
4 In a final letter written just before his execution, Paul spoke warmly of the “faith . . . without any hypocrisy” that his young companion Timothy had acquired from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, a Jewess. Though Timothy’s Greek father was an unbeliever, his mother exerted herself, as all believing parents should, in raising her son in the faith. Not only oral teaching, but also the parent’s sincere example in always behaving “in a manner worthy of the good news,” will set the pattern for the young one’s way of life. From what age onward did Timothy receive such instruction? Paul wrote him that “from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.”—2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; Philippians 1:27.
5. Why is it important to implant God’s thoughts in a child from an early age? (Luke 2:40)
5 However, is an infant child capable of absorbing spiritual matters? Yes, it is! Consider this: At birth a child’s brain is only one fourth the weight of an adult brain. But in just two years that brain grows so rapidly that it reaches three fourths of its adult weight. In that brief time, the child absorbs much of the basic information that will set it up in life, including a start in the difficult task of learning a language.
6. What will aid parents to reach the hearts of their children? (Proverbs 4:23)
6 Whatever the infant hears on spiritual matters may be absorbed, too! And it has a need for spiritual information, for man was created “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) That is why God instructs fathers, at Deuteronomy 11:18, 19: “You must apply these words of mine to your heart and your soul . . . You must also teach them to your sons.” Parents can be aided to reach the hearts of their children if they set a good example in applying godly principles in their own lives. Those who mold the hearts and souls of their little ones “from infancy” will have their reward!
7. (a) Why is it vital to spend time with little ones? (Proverbs 4:1-4) (b) Relate an experience showing how parents may find joy in training children.
7 How may this be done? Perhaps humans could learn from certain animals that are usually with their young, training and disciplining them for life. There is no substitute for spending time with our little ones. Oriental mothers who are accustomed to tying their youngsters on their backs, and who are constantly talking to them over their shoulders as they do their household chores and go marketing or visiting, have had good success in impressing worthwhile matters on little ones.
One mother taught her baby to sing, and then to include Scriptural matters as the words. By the time the baby was two years of age she could sing the names of the books of the Christian Greek Scriptures. At two years and three months she could sing the names of the sixty-six books from Genesis to Revelation. As she learned to repeat God’s attributes of wisdom, justice, power and love, and also the nine fruits of the spirit of Galatians 5:22, 23, these were impressed on her by teaching her how to express each with meaningful gestures. As she “pioneered” with her mother in daily door-to-door preaching of the “good news” and attended Bible studies in the homes of interested persons, her appreciation of spiritual things increased month by month.
Thousands of other believing parents have had similar joy in training their little ones.
8. How may parents interest children in Jehovah’s works and wisdom? (Psalm 78:2-4)
8 The matter of spending time profitably with one’s children is emphasized in the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, after clearly stating the greatest commandment—“You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force”—Moses went on to tell Israelite fathers:
“These words . . . must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
From the time of waking in the morning to the time of retiring at night, parents can benefit their little ones by teaching them, as appropriate, about the marvelous wisdom of Jehovah so manifest in the productions of creation.
9. (a) As to length of study sessions, what should parents keep in mind? (b) How can the good news be presented to one’s children in a positive manner, and with what goal? (Psalm 71:17, 18)
9 However, it must be remembered that young minds tire rapidly, and that youngsters need periods of play and relaxation. Sessions of Bible study with young children can be made informal, brief and interesting, but when it is seen that their minds are starting to wander, it may be best to discontinue the instruction until another time. It is vital for success that both parents and youngsters find joy and pleasure in what they are studying together. Parents, build up love for God in those young hearts! Never should you make the “good news” appear like a list of “don’ts” and “shouldn’ts.” Rather, help your children to trust God even as they do you, their earthly parents, and to appreciate His goodness, His kindness and His generosity. In time they will want to serve Jehovah out of love and thankfulness for all his grand provision for life, now and in the future.
10. How can believing children benefit an unbelieving parent? (Proverbs 10:1)
10 Children that are well trained according to Bible principles can grow up to be a credit and a joy to believing parents. And often an unbelieving parent, on noting the fine qualities that Bible instruction instills in his child, may be persuaded to take an interest in the “good news.”
A family head told the following on the day of his baptism: ‘I was the overseer at a construction site, but every evening I got drunk, and this began to affect my work. My wife and family were studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. One night my little boy, not yet five years old, suddenly came to me, laid his head on my shoulder, and said: “Daddy, every night you get drunk and smoke tobacco. It is so upsetting to mommy and my sisters, and even more hateful to Jehovah God. The Bible says that as a child I should obey my daddy, and that daddy should obey Jesus Christ. So please study the Bible the same as mommy.” For two hours he talked persuasively to me, and had a fine attitude. So I promised to try to study. As soon as I started to learn the truth, I found I could give up my independent ways and develop self-control. Our home became a bright and happy place.’
It has often happened that an unbelieving mate has listened to a child well trained in the Bible and been impressed.
AS YOUNGSTERS GROW UP
11 For families of God’s people, regular attendance at weekly congregational meetings provides for joyful association. Indeed, it was the commandment in Israel, to “congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones . . . in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn.” (Deuteronomy 31:12) As young ones sit alongside parents, endeavoring to listen, learn and share in meetings, happy family groups contribute toward the warmth, love and unity of the Christian congregation.
12 On entering school, youngsters are exposed to new associations and also to teachings, such as evolution, that may conflict with the Bible. Parents need to take special care to guard them against wrong influences, taking an interest in all their activities and reasoning out with them what is good and what is bad according to Bible principles. As Proverbs 22:6 states it:
“Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”
13. As related in the book, what fine impression may Bible-trained children make?
13 The good behavior at school of Bible-trained children has often made a fine impression, as the following report shows:
One day at school a sixth-grade girl and her younger sister were called to the teacher’s office. There, fifty-two teachers, obviously worried about the rising delinquency among students, interviewed them for two hours before a group of fellow students, inquiring minutely into their background of Bible training, the controls that their parents placed on viewing TV programs, reading comic books, and so forth. In conclusion the headmaster remarked, “If all children were trained like those of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we would have a fine school, with no children who harass others or answer back.” As a result of this meeting, the young girl was able to start Bible studies with twenty-six of her classmates.
14. What testifies to the fact that God’s arrangement for families really works?
14 The family that is united around the Bible, and that places spiritual interests first in life, is well equipped to stand against the trials of these “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) In the grand spiritual paradise that now extends to the ends of the earth, a multitude of family groups from all nations, tribes and peoples can testify that Jehovah’s arrangement for families really works, to the blessing of those who love him! They extol Jehovah as Head of “every family in heaven and on earth,” and look forward to his bestowing blessings on all families that support his sovereignty, through into the paradise earth that is now so close at hand.—Ephesians 3:15.
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A child’s abilities develop rapidly even from infancy
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Children need to be nourished spiritually
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Spend time with your children. It will be rewarded
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Happy those families that press on unitedly toward eternal life