An outspoken atheist believes it’s immoral for parents to teach their children religion as though it were actually true. He even claims that parents who pass along their faith to their children are committing child abuse. Though these views are extreme, I do hear from parents who are hesitant to boldly encourage their children toward faith. While most of us readily hope to influence our children with our view of politics or nutrition or sports, for some reason some of us treat our convictions about God differently.
In contrast, Paul wrote of how Timothy had been taught “from infancy . . . the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Timothy didn’t arrive at faith as an adult through the power of his own, unaided reason. Rather, his mother nurtured his heart toward God; then he continued in what he had learned (v. 14). If God is life, the source of true wisdom, then it’s vital for us to tenderly cultivate a love for God in our families.
There are many belief systems that are influencing our children. TV shows, movies, music, teachers, friends, the media—each of these carry assumptions (either obvious or under the radar) about faith that exert real influence. May we choose not to be silent. The beauty and grace we’ve experienced compels us to guide our children toward God.
Paul loves Timothy like a son (2 Timothy 1:2) and wants him to grow strong in a love and faith worth living and dying for (2:1–3). But while referring often in his letter to themes of suffering and harassment (1:8–9, 11–12, 15; 2:8–10; 3:10–12; 4:17–18), the apostle didn’t have a persecution complex. In fact, when he tells Timothy that all who want to live in the spirit and reverence of Jesus will experience opposition (2 Timothy 3:12), he does so in the context of warning that those who live only for themselves will be doing greater harm to themselves and one another in the long run (vv. 1–9, 13). Paul reminded Timothy that that those who opposed them weren’t the real enemy. Without realizing it, such persons had been snared by the devil to distract from the goodness and grace of Christ (2:22–26; Ephesians 6:12).