“To Timothy, my true son in the faith…” 1 Timothy 1:2. From the very first sentences in the letter to Timothy you can sense the deep love apostle Paul had for his younger brother in the faith. Paul himself didn’t have children, but he had a great father’s heart for his followers, his children of faith. And he had a special place in his heart for the young Timothy, his companion and co-worker: “I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 4:17.
Timothy was sent to a young church, to lead and serve the new believers. Paul exhorted him: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
This passage reminds me how important it is to work with my children from a young age; to help them read the Holy Scriptures, and teach them diligently from the Bible.
Forming the conscience
Of course it’s an illusion to think that memorizing Bible verses will make children instantly more obedient, patient, kind, honest and long-suffering. However, it’s a great method to stress the importance of these virtues. And it helps forming the conscience: it teaches them what God expects from his children, and what isn’t well-pleasing in his sight. It is my job as a parent to teach them about his will, just like God told his people, the Israelites, in the desert:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
When I see the verses I’ve printed and hung on the whiteboard in the kitchen, it’s first and foremost an exhortation to myself! I only can teach my children to the point I have lived this life myself; if my life isn’t in accordance with the Bible, they won’t value what I have to say. So I memorize the verses, and recite them out loud – when my children are around. And I pray God to help me walk in it, every day of my life!
During breakfast or dinner time – or right after – we can say the verse together, or I’ll ask the children to recite it after me, or fill me in. “May these …. of my … and this …” etc. It’s fun to see how quick they can fill me in! And after a week of consistent practice they are able to recite it completely on their own. Psalm 19:14 can also be sung in Dutch, which makes it even easier to remember.
Helping them understand the context
When things are placed in context, they often make so much more sense – and this makes it easier to remember. Reciting Bible verses is a great opportunity to give children more understanding of the Holy Scriptures. Who wrote or said this? To whom was this written or said? What were the circumstances? What does that word mean exactly? And what can we learn from this? Can you give an example? Sometimes I show them a Biblical film or a video I found online about this subject. This all helps to paint a more lively picture of the circumstances around the passage we are memorizing.
Remind them in daily situations
One of my boys had some hard days, the last week of school before summer break. He was tired, and in his mind just “everything went wrong”. He already was discouraged before school time! That week, we had recited 1 Peter 3:10-11: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” And I told him: “You know now how you can influence your day in a positive way! Do you remember?” I told him that negative self-talk also is a way to speak ‘evil’ – you should speak faith to yourself! This day will be a good day. I will love life today. For God is with me! He recited the Bible verse and felt proud that he could remember it – and I saw his eyes brighten up instantly. He went to school with a smile – and it made me very grateful for the power in God’s Word.
Developing a discerning mind
Paul exhorted Timothy to continue in what he had learned and what he had become convinced of, well aware from whom he had learned it. Because he was taught diligently in the Word of God, Timothy could not easily be deceived by false teachers who would led him away from the faith. I’ve experienced this myself: because my parents took the time to teach me about the Word, I have learned to read and listen with a discerning mind. I don’t believe everything that is said or written just because a Christian said or wrote it. There are many false teachers out there – even more than in the time of Timothy. It’s good to teach children early on about the truth of the gospel – but also about the lies of people that twist the Word into something that suit them best.
Wisdom for salvation
Timothy knew from infancy the Holy Scriptures “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” We need wisdom to understand how we can be saved. Teaching children about the Word will give them this wisdom for salvation. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14.
And when we have come to faith in Jesus Christ, we also need wisdom how we can come to a deeper salvation and sanctification in our daily situations. We need the Word and the Spirit to show us how we can be more cleansed from our evil tendencies to do sin, and how we can grow more into the image of Jesus Christ.
Thoroughly equipped for every good work
One day I woke up and immediately this verse came to mind: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12. Simply being reminded of this verse helped me to have a great start of the day, and I was guarded beforehand against temptations to respond with impatience towards my children.
If I hadn’t learned this verse – or just had glanced over it without really thinking about it – how would I’ve been reminded of it? When we fill our minds with the Word, it can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring verses into remembrance at exactly the right time! And in that way we will be equipped and empowered for every good work!
I pray for my children that they might have a soft heart and that God will give life to the seed that I sow by teaching them his Word – that He will let it grow deep roots, so that it bears fruit for eternity and they will be equipped for the good works God has laid out for them to do.
Get your set of printable Bible verses
Since we are a Dutch family, I usually print out verses from my Dutch NBG51 Bible to memorize with my children. But for my readers I’ve made 5 Bible verses into pretty printables – both KJV and NIV included. The verses are: Psalm 19:14, 1 Peter 3:10-11, Matthew 22:37-39, Ephesians 4:32 and Ephesians 6:1-3.
Perhaps you’ve already memorized these passages with your kids, but refreshing their memory won’t hurt anyone 😉 I often need to be reminded again and again.
If you want these printables, just sign up for my newsletter, and you will find a link in your mailbox within 5 minutes!
What verses have you memorized with your children?