“You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.”—MATT. 22:37.
SONG 134 Children Are a Trust From God
1-2. Explain how Bible principles may well take on greater meaning for us when our circumstances change.
ON THEIR wedding day, the handsome groom and his beautiful bride listen closely as a Bible-based talk is delivered on the subject of marriage. The principles being discussed in that talk are not new to them. But from this day forward, the information will take on greater meaning. Why? Because they will be applying it as a married couple.
2 It is similar when a Christian couple become parents. Over the years, they may have heard a number of talks on the subject of raising children. But now those principles will take on new meaning for them. They are going to have a child of their own to bring up. What an awesome responsibility! Certainly, new circumstances can change our perspective on well-known Bible principles. This is one reason why Jehovah’s worshippers read the Scriptures and, as Israel’s kings were told to do, meditate on them “all the days” of their life.—Deut. 17:19.
3. What will we discuss in this article?
3 Parents, you have one of the greatest privileges a Christian can have, namely, to teach your children about Jehovah. But you want to do more than merely impart information about our God. You want to help your children to love him dearly. What can you do to instill love for Jehovah in your children? In this article, we will discuss four Bible principles that can help you as parents. (2 Tim. 3:16) We will also see how some Christian parents have benefited from applying the Bible’s counsel.
FOUR PRINCIPLES THAT CAN HELP PARENTS
4. What is one principle that can help parents instill love for Jehovah in their children’s heart? (James 1:5)
4 Principle 1: Seek Jehovah’s guidance. Ask Jehovah to give you the wisdom you need to help your children develop love for him. (Read James 1:5.) He is the most qualified Person to give advice. There are a number of reasons why. Consider two. First, Jehovah has the most experience at being a parent. (Ps. 36:9) And second, the wise advice he gives always brings benefits.—Isa. 48:17.
5. (a) What does Jehovah’s organization provide to help parents? (b) As shown in the video, what did you learn from the way Brother and Sister Amorim raised their children?
5 By means of his Word and his organization, Jehovah provides an abundance of Bible-based spiritual food that can help you raise your children to love Jehovah. (Matt. 24:45) For example, you can find much practical advice in the article series “Help for the Family,” which appeared in print for a number of years in the Awake! magazine and is now available on our website. Also, many videos published on jw.org feature interviews and dramatizations that can help parents apply Jehovah’s counsel as they raise their children.b—Prov. 2:4-6.
6. How does one father feel about the guidance he and his wife receive from Jehovah’s organization?
6 Many parents have expressed appreciation for the help that Jehovah has provided through his organization. A father named Joe admits: “Raising three children in the truth is no easy task. My wife and I always pray for Jehovah to help us. And we have often felt that an article or a video came out at just the right time to help us deal with a situation we were facing. Seeking Jehovah’s guidance has been our lifeline.” Joe and his wife have found that such provisions are helping their children draw close to Jehovah.
7. Why is it important for parents to be conscious of the example they set? (Romans 2:21)
7 Principle 2: Teach by example. Children watch their parents closely and often imitate them. Of course, no parent is perfect. (Rom. 3:23) Even so, wise parents do their very best to set a good example for their children. (Read Romans 2:21.) Speaking of children, one father said: “They are like sponges that absorb everything.” He adds: “They will tell us when our example isn’t consistent with what we try to teach them.” So if we want our children to love Jehovah, our own love for him needs to be strong and evident.
8-9. What did you learn from the comments made by Andrew and by Emma?
8 There are many ways that parents can teach their children to love Jehovah. Note what a 17-year-old brother named Andrew says: “My parents have always emphasized the importance of prayer. Every night, Dad would pray with me, even if I had already said my own prayer. My parents would always remind us: ‘You can talk to Jehovah as many times as you want.’ That emphasis on prayer affected me deeply, and now I am very comfortable praying to Jehovah and viewing him as a loving Father.” Parents, never underestimate how much your own love for Jehovah can influence your children.
9 Consider also the example of Emma. When her father abandoned the family, he left her mother with massive debts. Emma says: “There were many times when Mom struggled financially, but she always talked about how Jehovah cares and provides for his servants. I could see by the way she lived her life that she really believed it. Mom practiced what she preached.” The lesson? Parents can teach by example even in difficult situations.—Gal. 6:9.
10. What opportunities did many Israelite parents have to communicate with their children? (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7)
10 Principle 3: Talk with your children regularly. Jehovah instructed the ancient Israelites to teach their children about him regularly. (Read Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.) Those parents had many opportunities throughout the day to talk with their children and instill love for Jehovah in their heart. For instance, a young Israelite boy might spend hours helping his father plant the crops or bring in the harvest. His sister might spend much of the day helping her mother with sewing, weaving, and other household chores. As parents and children worked together, they could talk about many important topics. For example, they could discuss Jehovah’s quality of goodness and consider how he was helping the family.
11. What is one opportunity that Christian parents have to talk with their children?
11 Times have changed. In many lands, parents and children cannot spend time together throughout the day. The parents may be at work, and the children may be in school. As a result, parents must look for occasions when they can talk with their children. (Eph. 5:15, 16; Phil. 1:10) Family worship offers one such opportunity. A young brother named Alexander says: “My father always makes arrangements for family worship, and he allows nothing to crowd out this time together. After the study, we just talk.”
12. What should the family head keep in mind during family worship?
12 If you are a family head, what can you do to make family worship enjoyable for your children? Why not study with your children our fine new publication Enjoy Life Forever! That study would provide an excellent opportunity for lively conversations. You want your children to open up about their feelings and concerns, so do not use the time reserved for family worship to lecture or scold them. And try not to overreact if your children express a viewpoint that is not in harmony with Scriptural principles. Rather, be grateful that they are being honest about their feelings, and encourage them to express themselves freely. You can best help your children only when you know how they really feel.
13. What other opportunities do parents have to help their children draw close to Jehovah?
13 Parents, look for opportunities throughout the day to help your children draw close to Jehovah. You do not have to wait for a formal Bible study session to teach them about our loving God. Note what a mother named Lisa says: “We helped our children make the connection between Jehovah and creation. For example, when our dog’s antics would make the kids laugh, we would point out how this illustrates that our Creator has a sense of humor and loves life, just as we do.”
14. Why is it important for parents to help their children choose friends wisely? (Proverbs 13:20)
14 Principle 4: Help your children develop wholesome friendships. God’s Word makes it clear that our friendships have an influence on us—either for good or for bad. (Read Proverbs 13:20.) Parents, do you know your children’s friends? Have you met them and spent some time with them? What can you do to help your children make friends with those who love Jehovah? (1 Cor. 15:33) You can help them make wise choices by inviting some who are doing well spiritually to join you in your family activities.—Ps. 119:63.
15. What can parents do to help their children develop wholesome friendships?
15 Consider the experience of a father named Tony. He explains what he and his wife have done to help their children form healthy friendships: “Over the years, my wife and I have invited to our home brothers and sisters of different ages and backgrounds. They share a meal with us and join in our family worship. This is a great way to get to know those who love and serve Jehovah with joy. We have been blessed to have circuit overseers, missionaries, and others stay in our home. Their experiences, zeal, and self-sacrificing spirit have had a tremendous impact on our children and have helped them draw close to Jehovah.” Parents, be determined to help your children have good association.
DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!
16. What if a child says that he does not want to serve Jehovah?
16 What if, in spite of your best efforts, one of your children says that he does not want to serve Jehovah? Do not conclude that you have failed as a parent. Jehovah has given all of us—including your child—the gift of free will, the ability to choose whether we will serve God or not. If your child has decided to leave Jehovah, do not give up hope that one day he will return. Remember the illustration of the lost son. (Luke 15:11-19, 22-24) That young man strayed far off the path of righteousness, but in the end, he returned. “That was an illustration,” some may say. “Can it happen in real life?” Indeed, it can! In fact, that was the experience of a young man named Elie.
17. How does Elie’s experience encourage you?
17 Regarding his parents, Elie says: “They did their best to instill in me a love for Jehovah and his Word, the Bible. In my teen years, however, I began to rebel.” Elie started living a double life, and he rejected all his parents’ efforts to help him spiritually. After he left home, he got involved in wrong conduct. Even so, at times he had Bible discussions with one of his friends. Elie notes: “The more I spoke about Jehovah to my friend, the more I found myself thinking about Jehovah. Slowly but surely, the seeds of Bible truth that were dormant in my heart—seeds that my parents had tried hard to plant—began to grow.” In time, Elie came back to the truth.c Imagine how glad his parents were that they had tried to teach him from an early age to love Jehovah!—2 Tim. 3:14, 15.
18. How do you feel about parents who work hard to teach their children to love Jehovah?
18 Parents, you have been granted a wonderful privilege, namely, to raise a new generation of worshippers of Jehovah. (Ps. 78:4-6) That is no small task, and we commend you most sincerely for your tireless efforts to help your children! If you continue to do your best to help your children to love Jehovah and to bring them up in his discipline and admonition, you can be sure that our loving heavenly Father will be pleased.—Eph. 6:4.
SONG 135 Jehovah’s Warm Appeal: “Be Wise, My Son”
a Christian parents love their children very much. They work hard to care for their children’s physical and emotional needs. More important, those parents do their best to instill in their young ones a deep love for Jehovah. This article will discuss four Bible principles that can help parents to achieve that goal.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: In an effort to get to know his child’s friends, a father plays basketball with his son and his son’s friend.