How to Command Children in the Way of the Lord

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the lord, to do justice and judgment; that the lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19).

This was God’s evaluation of Abraham’s faith, his integrity, and his faithfulness in instilling truth in the next generation. This ancient Jewish patriarch would teach his children the way of the Lord. What is this way of the Lord?

To Do Justice

Justice is just conduct, fair dealing, correctness, well-founded reasoning. In New Testament terms, we call it the Golden Rule. “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).

Children by nature are selfish or self-centered. “Me, my, mine” are some of the very first words they learn to say. Children are possessive of their dolls, tractors, animals, and whatever they are playing with. Let another child interfere and the contest begins. Teaching and commanding children to share is a very important requirement.

Children have an inborn sense of fairness even if it is biased. They are not very old until you hear the cry, “That’s not fair! She took my doll. He took my book. I had it first.” This may all be true, so how do we teach justice?

We teach justice when we explain to our children that we are not owners but stewards (managers) of what God has given us. The toys that our children claim to be theirs must be understood as gifts they received and thus should be shared for others’ enjoy­ment. On the other hand, justice requires that we respect the property of others. Children need to be taught to ask permission to share in the use or enjoyment of another’s possessions.

As adults, we grieve for all the crime and injustice we see in our society. God is grieved too. We will soon be where Israel was in the time of the Prophet Hosea. “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). As parents, let’s get serious. It is imperative that our children be taught the way of the Lord—to do justice.

To Do Judgment

Judgment is coming to right conclusions, making decisions in the light of consequences, discerning between what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable to God.

Children are born innocent but with depraved natures. Though they are inclined, by nature, to be selfish and self-centered, they can be trained and taught what is acceptable. Godly parents will diligently train their children to use their wills to choose the things that are right and proper.

Every parent should be knowledgeable of the commandment, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). Teach your children this commandment as well. This implies that children are to obey, not because they understand or approve, but because they are asked or commanded to do so. When a child is taught to consistently submit his will to a higher authority, he becomes the master of his own will. In learning to master his own will, the child learns to do judgment. Instead of the erroneous modern philosophy that says, “If it feels good do it,” the child who is trained to do judgment will consider the consequences. Remember that judgment is coming to right conclusions. The way of the Lord is to hate evil and love righteousness.

When God said that Abraham would teach his household to do judgment, we can believe that he taught them that diligence was more profitable than laziness, honesty rather than lying, self-control over anger, kindness instead of selfishness, and loving and forgiving in place of hate and vengeance. This is what Jesus meant when He said that the wise are those who dig deep and build their houses upon the rock.

In contrast, the foolish who build upon sand are deceived by what appears, for the moment, to be pleasing and gratifying. They are inclined to favor what is visible and temporal rather than the unseen and the real. The influence of what is present outweighs what is future even though what is future has far greater value.

Children who are taught to do judgment learn the beauty of virtue, the happiness of self-daenial, and the pleasure of duty. They first see the joy this brings as their parents wholeheartedly follow the Lord and love Him with all their heart. They feel the freedom and rest and the peace of obedience, when they follow the commandments of the Lord.

Children taught to do justice and judgment will be sensitive to the voice of conscience and their need of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. As they surrender to Him, they experience victory in keeping the way of the Lord.

“Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 89:14, 15).

-by J. Luke Martin

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