Modeling Faith for Your Children
If you’ve ever seen a small child clapping or waving “bye-bye,” you know it’s because someone – most likely a parent – has first been applauding the child’s actions or wildly waving every time they leave the room.
Infants and toddlers are the world’s best copycats.
They’ll watch and mimic everything you do – that’s how God designed children to learn. It’s how we all learn languages, facial expressions, how to treat one another… and how to live out our faith.
So when it comes to having a personal relationship with God, your children will learn how to walk by faith by watching you do it first.
One powerful example of this in Scripture is the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac.
In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham by asking him to take Isaac – the son God had promised would one day make Abraham the father of many nations – to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him there.
“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”Genesis 22:2
As a father, I can’t imagine being faced with this decision. The quandary before Abraham was this: Do I obey God and lose my son or disobey God?
One of the advantages of growing older is that we can look back down the life road we traveled and recall significant events, lessons learned, and transforming encounters. Abraham could look back in time and see again and again God’s faithfulness.
What did he see? God’s sovereignty.
Wherever Abraham and Sarah had gone, God had been their world, and they were never without Him and His guidance. God had proven – time and time again – to be trustworthy.
So Abraham acted in accordance with his faith… he chose to obey God. The Bible says…
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.”Genesis 22:3
Abraham didn’t even wait a single day – immediately, he took action, setting out to do what God had asked him to do. And Isaac was watching.
Three days later, Abraham saw Mount Moriah in the distance. He and Isaac left the donkey and the servants behind, going on, resolutely, to the place God had said to go. Genesis 22:6-8 says,
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,
“but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered,
“God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And the two of them went on together.Genesis 22:6-8
Abraham wasn’t panicked, so Isaac wasn’t either. The two of them went on together, neither knowing what would happen, but each of them trusting their father. Isaac trusted Abraham – Abraham trusted God.
And God proved Himself to be a faithful Father… as He always does. A ram was provided, Isaac lived, and Abraham is now the father of many nations.
I don’t think Isaac ever forgot that experience. When he died at age 180, I believe he could still smell the burning ram. Isaac learned a lesson that day on Moriah that transformed his life. He saw clearly that God had first place, top priority in the lives of his mom and dad. Abraham and Sarah modeled faith for their son.
It takes a Moriah experience – those moments in our lives when things seem impossible – to model that. Those are the moments where our children have an opportunity to see the extent to which we obey and trust God. It gives us an opportunity to model faith.
It gives us an opportunity to influence their lives… for eternity.
Today, all throughout the Bible we see God refer to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Abraham learned how to walk by faith from his Heavenly Father, and he set the precedent for his son, Isaac – who did the same for his son, Jacob.
All three are pillars of the faith today. They’re also the many, many “greats” great-grandfathers of God’s own son, Jesus (on Mary’s side). The world sees Jesus now, in part, because of them.
And it began because one man obeyed God… and his son was watching.
So parents, choose your words and actions wisely. Be very careful about what you do and say because your children are watching… and when they become your copycats, will the world see Jesus through them?