Reverence For God
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 4 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Children)
God created man that He might have fellowship with him. When sin broke this fellowship God initiated a plan whereby it might be restored. No life is a success unless it has been used as a preparation for the next life. Regardless of the accomplishments a person makes, his life is a failure unless he is prepared for dying. Now what does this have to do with early childhood? Simply this: A child that is taught reverence for God when he is yet too young to understand the plan of redemption will quickly accept Christ when he is old enough to understand what it is all about. One of the great secrets to making this kind of an early response is to have developed in childhood a deep and an abiding reverence for God. The wise parent will prepare his child for acceptance of salvation and dedication of life by teaching him how to attain such reverence.
1. He should be taught to respect all kinds of superiority, such as old age, skill, scholarship, parents, teachers, leaders, etc. As he respects superiority, he will then by force of habit respect the greatest Superiority of all when he comes to understand what salvation is all about.
2. He should be taught to have in his disciplined schedule a quiet time. This is time he should spend alone talking to and thinking about God. This should be done at the same time every day and should be done without fail. He is developing a habit that will render him blessings and success in later life.
3. He should be shown the universe and its grandeur. Read to him Psalms 8 and 19. Take him for a walk at night and show him the wonders and the immensity of the heavens. Teach him to say, "Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky," Teach your child, "Star light, star bright, First star I've seen tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight." Tell him that God made the heavens. Explain to him that most of those stars are bigger than our earth. Tell him how far away they are and how wonderful is God's universe. Teach him that God made the universe. Lead him to stand in awe over the greatness of God and the wonders of the heavens.
4. He should be taught of the wonders of life. Show him ants, bees, etc. who live in our world and yet, in a sense, who live each in his own world. Tell him off the ant, for example. Read in an encyclopedia some of the characteristics of the ant. Let the child become intrigued with the intelligence of some supreme being, even our God, Who made the wonders of nature. Teach him to believe in God because of the arrangement of God's world. This kind of reverence comes from knowledge rather than superstition. Realization of the wonder and beauty of God's world will lead the child to have reverence for the Creator. Show him the plants in the spring and the trees in the autumn. Let him see the cloud formations, the sunset, the early morning, the big dipper, the little dipper, the milky way, and the evening star. Let him hear the birds sing. Constantly call his attention to these things, reminding him Who is behind it all.
At the end of each day ask the child what he has seen today that is beautiful and that was made by God. Make this a little ritual. See to it that the little child's mind is fixed upon God regularly at he same time every day. See that he interweaves the day's activities with the workings of God. This will create habits that will be with him all of his life.
There was a day in America when we were a rural society. This is no longer true. Our society has become urbanized to the extent that we are so prone to miss the blessings of beholding the beauties around us, of hearing God's great harmonies, and of feeling the breath of God. Most adults are so busy grasping for success that we have arrived at our destination but have missed the beauties beside the road as we traveled. Hence, we have become successful but have not learned how to enjoy its benefits. This would not be true if someone had disciplined us to revere God when we were little ones.
5. Indelibly imprint in the mind of the little child that the Bible is the Word of god and that Jesus is the Son of God. When I was a little boy my mother used to hold the Bible before me and say, "Son, the Bible is the Word of God. Say it, son." I would repeat, "The Bible is the Word of God." Again and again this was repeated. Then my mother would say, "Son, the Bible is about Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. Say it, son." I would then reply, "Jesus is the Son of God." Then she would ask me to say it again and again and again and again until it was indelibly imprinted in my mind: the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Son of God!
When Becky (my oldest daughter) was newborn and still in the maternity ward at the hospital I brought a big Bible and held it up before the window. I shouted through the window, "Becky, this is the Word of God." and I waved the Bible from side to side. (I am not sure that she was impressed!)
The first day she was home from the hospital I put her on the floor, got the Bible, and told her how to be saved. I did this every week even when she was an infant. I am not sure when the moment was that salvation's plan first dawned upon her, but I am sure that she knew how to be saved, for regularly I took the Bible, went to her crib, and told her about Adam and Eve, the depravity of man, the wrath of God, God's plan of salvation, the atonement, the resurrection, etc. I wanted to be sure she associated her daddy with a black book called the Bible and in her subconscious mind was registered God's plan of salvation. How important this is in the life of a child.
Charles Darwin with his theory of evolution has turned many young lives away from the Bible and God. It is said that when he was a young man he was a great lover of poetry, but because of his desire for scientific achievement did not develop this side of his nature. Later when he had time to enjoy poetry he found he could not enjoy it, for he had not developed this particular appetite and it had died from inactivity. It is so important that our children not only be taught reverence, but they must be taught to have reverence and to offer reverence and adoration to God even before they are old enough to know how to be saved.
6. When the little child has done wrong, explain to him that the punishment you are giving is given from God and that you are acting as God's representative in meting out the punishment. Let Him know that it is not the parent who sets right and wrong or determines what is sin; it is God Who does that. Let the child know that it is not the parent's idea to punish but hat he has been instructed by God to punish. On the other hand, let the child know that the good things which happen to him and are done for him and given to him by the parent are actually gifts from God. In other words, that which the parent does for and to the child which is Scriptural should be explained to the child. he should know that the things we do to and for him which are Scriptural are things we do at God's command. This will make God part of our every day conversation and the child will grow up not feeling ill at ease when he talks about God.
7. The child should be taught to respect the man of God and revere his office. A little girl once drew a picture. Her father asked her what the picture was. She replied, "It is a picture of God." The father chuckled and said, "Well, sweetheart, no one knows what God looks like." "They do now," the child replied.
Once I tied a little boy's shoe. He looked up at his mother, who was a very poor lady, and with a tear in his eye and excitement in his voice he said, "Mother, did you see God tie my shoe?"
There was a little boy in my church who called be "Brother God." When I would be preaching some Sunday morning on hell fire and damnation he would look up at his mother and say, "Mama, ain't God mad today!"
One day when I was talking to my son, David, when he was a little fellow I asked him what he had learned in Sunday school. He said he had learned about God. "What else?" I asked.
"I learned that God loves me more than anybody loves me," he replied.
"What else did you learn?"
"I learned that God spanks me when I do wrong."
"I learned then that God loves me and tells me it hurt Him worse than it did . . . Hey, Dad, are you God?"
One of the fine families in our church recently had a baby. When the mother arrived home from the hospital with the little boy, Timothy, one of the older children took a look at him and exclaimed, "Mother, Timothy will have to get a haircut or Brother Hyles won't let him in the nursery!" You see, the child's hairline was rather low and he had so much hair that he looked as if he needed a haircut, and the older children knew my stand on long hair.
One of the precious little girls in our church recently wrote me a note Its was my birthday and she said, "Happy Birthday. I am so grateful for a great and wonderful preacher. You don't know how grateful I am to you for doing do much for me . . . I used to be flop in school, but I am at a Christian school and it's because you have done this for me. I don't know how much I do love you, but I love you so much that I can't even write it. I love you very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much. Love in Christ, (signed)."
Some parents have been on the job, haven't they? They have been teaching their children to respect the pastor. If children respect the man of God, they will respect the God Whom the man represents when they get old enough to know Him. However, in early childhood, it is hard for a child to disassociate God from a person.
A little girl asked her mother for something. The mother replied, "Sweetheart, ask God for it." The little girl again asked her mother. Again the mother said, "I told you to ask God for it!" The little girl whimpered, "But Mother, I want to ask someone who's got skin on him." Children need to see God in us and His love exemplified in us.
One little child in our church said to her mother, "God is watching over us all the time. He doesn't even take a coffee break."
Dr. Walt Hanford, who pastors a church, has a son who was once watching television on a Saturday. The child heard the announcer say, "Don't forget, boys and girls, tomorrow is Sunday. Go to the church of your choice." The little fellow looked at his mother and said, "Mother, we can't do that, can we?"
Dr. John Rice has a grandson who went to health class at school and came home and told his parents, "Today we learned all about mouth-to-mouth recreation!"
Yes, children are impressionable and if they can be taught reverence for God, it will be much easier for them to accept God's Christ when they understand that He died for them.
Of course, reverence should be created with a constant emphasis on high ideals and morals and with the proper example from the mother and father.
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