I have talked a bit about making war on your sin. I have mentioned Preaching to Yourself. Yet, how do parents teach their children to make war on sin or to preach to themselves?
Proverbs 22:6 speaks specifically about training up a child. Why would this be any different? This is a lifeskill that takes work over and over again. I am going to specifically speak to parents in this post.
Your kids will learn more from you just by watching. Yes, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can only imagine the weight of what this means to be a Dad or a Mom. The pressure that comes with this. This is not what you signed up for, right? Well, sorry. You have great influence over your kids, especially when they are young.
I plead with you to model fighting sin and preaching to yourself. This will look different in each parent’s life. It may be explaining to your kids one night (or multiple) that Dad is trying to fight his sin of getting angry. Or it could be Mom trying to fight her sin of being selfish. Then follow it up with Dad/Mom is preaching the Bible to themselves to fight their own sin. Do you know what the Bible says about getting angry? Use this as an example to teach your son/daughter.
Do not expect your son or daughter to know how to fight sin if you do not fight it. Do not expect your son or daughter to preach the Bible to themselves if you do not do the same.
You must teach your child how to preach to themselves. It does not necessarily come easy. It is not exactly natural. It must be taught. Maybe during a conversation with them you could ask him/her what is one area in his/her life that he/she thinks he/she is sinning against God (Do not make their sins revolve around you). Depends on their age, you will get different answers. Whatever they say, ask them if they know what the Bible says. If so, ask them if they know a verse that talks about it. If yes, read it together. If not, show them one.
I would encourage you to commit it to memory together. Ask them what this verse means.
Once you establish the truth of the verse, I would tell my son/daughter that I (Dad) has to preach this truth to myself. I am a sinner who loves to sin. At the same time, I know it is wrong. So, when the desire to sin is in my heart, I quote this verse and talk to myself. I may say, “Justin, you do not want this. The Bible says this (whatever it is) yet you are wanting sin. Listen to me, etc…”
If we do not teach our children to preach to themselves, they may never learn to fight their sin.
Your child is a sinner. I hope this is not a shock. They are. I am a sinner. Thankfully God’s grace is more powerful than my sin. Show them God’s grace. Show them your love. Be a good father and a good mother to them. Love them. Pursue them as a son/daughter. Have fun with them.
They will most likely commit the same sins over and over again. Discipline may be required from you, but love them. Explain God’s grace to them. Encourage them to never stop fighting and that you are here to help them.
Life is a battle and it is never too young to start. However, it is not a list of rules, but a joyful way to live. God’s grace must be clearly communicated to your child over and over again! God gave you much grace, and He has given your child much grace too!