Are children responsible for their actions? Five ways to teach them

When our children were small, I often heard mothers excusing the behavior of their children with such sayings as: “He’s just a child,” “Children will be children,” and so on. And, of course, it’s true. You can’t expect maturity from a child. Are children responsible for their actions?

Once, a boy tried to throw rocks around eight inches in diameter at our kids. His mother’s reaction? “He’s just a boy.” She didn’t say, “I’m so sorry that happened. I will make sure he never does that again.” No. She just excused him.

Another child stole things. The father’s response was denial: “He didn’t take anything.” But he did, and we could prove it.

Are children responsible for their actions?

The Bible says yes. Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (Proverbs 20:11).

I don’t know at what age a child is responsible for sin. That’s not what I’m talking about here. In this post, we’re looking into a child’s actions. Children are known by what they do.

Yes, children naturally do things like throwing fits, making small dramas into big ones, and so on. And, they bump into things, spill milk, get themselves messy, and leave toys out. That’s what normal children do. They are not teens or adults. I believe it’s perfectly fine for children to be themselves—while you teach them manners, how to look out for danger, and how to care for their home.

What should we look for in teaching our own children? How can we help them to be known for good works?

1. One of the most important things to teach them is to heed our voices. The Bible says, My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs. 1:8).

2. Teach your child to obey you. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise) Ephesians 6:1-2.

Our family was picnicking in a narrow park next to a street. A child’s soccer ball went out into the street with a little boy running after it. The child’s father yelled, and the boy stopped immediately, turning around to face his dad. A car would have hit him had he not listened to his father and obeyed immediately. The car actually grazed the soccer ball. The outcome could have been tragic, but the child listened to his father and obeyed right away. This incident was a great object lesson for our grandson, who watched it unfold.

3. Teach your children their good works please you. My experience as a young mother was that it was easy to get caught up in disciplining and correcting and forget to praise. It’s important to do both, of course. Let your children know that their obedience, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, sweetness, and giving please you. Praise these things. Thank your children. Notice the things they do well and compliment them. You’ll see their eyes sparkle. They want to please you. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother (Proverbs 10:1b)

4. Teach your child to love God. This is the most important thing you will do as a parent. Show your child what it means to love God.

This begins with your own faith. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

Teach them what God has done. This will mean reading them Bible stories, sharing your family’s answers to prayers, and making the Bible come to life as you share your own spiritual journey with your children.

I’m a grandmother, and it’s such a satisfaction to see how the biblical worldview and love for God that my husband and I passed down to our children is getting passed down to theirs.

We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children (Psalm 78:4-6).

5. Expose them to God’s plan for salvation. When our first child was very small, my husband and I talked to her Sunday school teachers and asked them specifically to tell the little children—probably around three years old at the time—that Jesus died for their sins and rose again. We wanted the gospel woven into every lesson. Our desire was that she would begin to understand what Jesus did for her. Now, she is a mother. After a move, she and her husband were visiting area churches. One of the factors in their choice was the children’s class. In several of the churches, three-year-olds were kept in a nursery with no Bible stories at all. In the church they attend, the gospel was taught—with fun activities—to all the children in every age group.

Make sure the gospel is also taught at home in your family devotions. You don’t have family devotions? You can begin now. We used to do them at the table after our main meal, but you can choose any time the whole family is together. For small ones, keep it short and sweet. Prayer, Bible story or Bible reading, and that is enough. Don’t make them hate it by having long periods of prayer requests. (I used to go crazy with those!) Change it up. Sing a hymn sometimes. Just make sure your family focuses on the Lord together.

When you teach your children respect, obedience, and to love God, they will be known for their good actions. They will be a credit to you. And, best of all, they will be happy.

Women of the Bible 2: Who am I?

This is the second instalment of our women of the Bible “Who am I?” series. Guess the biblical woman and decide what we can learn from her.

I met my husband the day before we were married. Our marriage was arranged by our fathers. Mine is rich and wanted me to marry well, so he paid a bountiful dowry, much more than what was asked. At fourteen, I became X’s wife. Everyone said I was beautiful. Our lavish wedding was the event of the decade in Shushan. My husband was proud of me. He invited me to take his arm and parade at his side many social occasions.

I behaved with dignity. Within, I was delighted for landing such a catch as X. Even though my marriage was arranged, I gave myself credit for my beauty and took great pains to ensure that I always looked my best. I held my head high and enjoyed my status far above all other women.

But things didn’t always go well. I became acquainted with the vice of drink and the effect it had on my husband. When he drank too much wine, he became a different person. He had the tendency to forget his manners and become crude and loud. To be honest, it was embarrassing. I didn’t like him like that. It was ugly to watch.

I began to boycott certain events. I’d attend when my husband asked, of course, but when I knew the occasion called for much drinking and revelry, I only went if he specifically invited me. When I had to go, I tried to mask the disgust I felt. I smiled and charmed and lifted my chin.

Later, I went back to my bedchamber and cried. Only my closest maidens knew.

One evening, I didn’t go to the royal men’s feast, feigning a headache. All of a sudden, the door opened, and my servant girl Davke raced in, her face white with excitement.

“He wants you to appear. He wants you to show yourself to his guests. He demands it. Now.”

“I told him I don’t feel well.”

“You must go. He wants you to.”

“But Davke, I cannot do that. My body is not for public viewing.”

“He says to come. Hurry. You could wear something see-through. That would work. Here, how about this dress of fine linen?” She holds up a gauze creation as transparent as water.

I turn my face to the wall. “I can’t, Davke. I will not.”

“Please do it. We love you. Do you not understand? You could be killed for displeasing him.”

“No.”

“Please. You know how he gets.”

“That’s precisely why I cannot. No.”

“Please.”

“Go Davke. Tell him I refuse.”

“Yes, Mistress.” She went away, sobbing into her arm, covering her face as she ran.

I never saw her again.

Neither did I ever see my husband again.

Who am I?

What can we learn from this woman of the Bible’s story? Do you admire her? Why or why not?Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Attitude Schmattitude!

Attitude is probably the biggest battleground for women. How many times do we think of a smarty little comeback? How many times do we make rude snap judgments? How about grumbling?

We have a hard time with the law of kindness1, don’t we? At least in our heads.

Has someone—maybe your child, husband, or parent—asked you do do something, and your first reaction is, Can’t he see I’m busy? Have you balked? Have you thought negatively about that person? Oh my! I remember being interrupted in reading (which I was always doing) when I was a young teen and having a rebellious spirit. How could my parent ask something of me when I was reading?!!!

How about when someone takes advantage of you? What’s your reaction? Count it all joy?2 Suffer the hurt? Absorb the loss?

And, when people revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for Jesus’ sake3,do you react like a victorious Christian? Do you forgive? Do you treat them kindly anyhow? Or, do you simmer inside?

Attitude is important. It reveals our heart.

Romans 12:10-31 is one of those passages we all would do well to study: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is the Christian way. This sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Today’s philosophy goes completely opposite this teaching. Venting, fighting back, vengeance, looking out for number one, self-this and self-that, anger, strife, divisiveness…. The list goes on.

The Bible way is truly amazing: For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:19-21).

The Christian is literally a “Christ follower.” Jesus is God, and God is holy. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle). 1 Peter 1:15

What’s your attitude?

What’s mine?

Does it please the Lord?

  • 1. From Proverbs 31:26
  • 2. From James 1:2
  • 3. From Matthew 5:11

Fiction review: I’ll Watch the Moon

Ann Tatlock’s I’ll Watch the Moon is a different kind of book from her—based on her grandmother’s story. I absolutely loved it.

She calls it a “love story,” and it is, though it’s not a romance. Told from a little girl’s viewpoint, we learn of Nova’s star-gazing brother, Dewey, and her Auntie Dortha, mother, and two men: Josef and Thomas. She also introduces us to Dewey’s friends and Dewey’s world. Dewey sincerely wants to be the first man on the moon.

Little by little, Josef’s life story unfolds, along with some life-changing happenings in Nova’s life. Unfortunately, I can’t tell more without spoiling.

This is a sweet, lovely read. I enjoyed the sensitivity with which it is told and the authentic historical setting. A wonderful book that I can recommend to anyone. Easily five stars.

Who Am I?

I’m starting a new series for “Walking in the Way.” We’ll present different women from the Bible. See if you can guess who they are. Also, beyond figuring out who they are, let’s learn valuable spiritual applications from them. Are you ready? Here’s the first one:

She looks up from weeding outside their dwelling, surprised to hear his voice at this hour in the morning. “What did you say, Sweetheart?”

“Mumble mumble building mumble.”

“I didn’t quite hear you. Did you say something about a building?”

Her husband comes nearer and explains.

“Let me make sure I got this straight. You’re going to build something according to God’s plan.”

“Right.”

“It is going to be huge.”

“Yes.”

“God has already given you precise instructions.”

“Yes, you got it.”

“And, while you build, you have a message for anyone curious about your project.”

“Exactly.”

“Okay, when do you start?”

“Today.”

“That’s great, Honey, but you do realize you’re getting up in age.”

“I’m keeping fit.” He makes a muscle, and she laughs and nods. He does look good.

“You’ll be fitter with this project.” She momentarily turns her head, smiles to herself, and pivots back to face him.” Are you hungry? Lunch salad’s ready, and there are berries for dessert. The kids are already inside.”

Fifty years later, her husband continues to pound pegs, measure, and design stalls, cages, and storage areas. The magnificent structure can be seen from far away, and her husband continues to preach. “God will judge the earth. Repent!” All the while, he prays for revival and keeps on working.

Their three boys grow up, marry, and their wives chime in to help in the work. More than mere moral support, the four women cook, sweep shavings, carry water, and encourage their men. They also share God’s message with their friends, “Judgment is coming. Repent. Come with us. God has provided salvation.”

But no one listens.

Some even mock and laugh.

The old man walks with God. He does everything God commands him to do.

And God says to him, But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee (Genesis 6:18).

One cloudy day, the family enters, along with a menagerie of peaceful animals—some of every kind on the earth. When everyone gets aboard, a hand from heaven seals the door. Almost immediately, the skies and the fountains inside the earth open. The woman looks up at her six-hundred-year-old, still-beautiful man and smiles. She turns into his strong arms and swipes at the tears that begin to flow.

A few hours later, water is already sloshing against the bottom of their brand new dwelling as the sounds of beating the door and screaming assault her ears.

The flood has begun … and all their friends are lost.

Many years later, New Testament writers would mention this man and his family.

  • In Hebrews 11:7, he’s named as a hero of the faith—By faith … being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
  • 1 Peter 3:20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of (this man), while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  • 2 Peter 2:5And spared not the old world, but saved … the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now. Who is this Bible woman? What can we learn from her?