Growing up, there was one phrase my father repeated over and over again in our home. Whenever one of us was wrestling with a particular decision, my father would ask, “What does the Bible have to say about it?” Whenever we'd discuss a particular topic, my father would again always point us to scripture. He didn’t do it in a heavy-handed way that would shut the conversation down. He did it in a way that reinforced a powerful concept in my life: God’s Word applies to every aspect of my life and it’s important to know what it says. This has been a tremendous gift in my life.
Paul speaks about Timothy receiving the gift of scripture. He says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14–17, ESV). Here are three things this one reference teaches us about the gift of scripture:
Timothy had been “acquainted with the sacred writings” from his childhood. The word “acquainted” has the connotation of relationship attached to it. Timothy had a relationship with God’s Word. It was part of his life and he interacted with it. On top of this, Timothy was acquainted with scripture from childhood. The word “childhood” here could also be translated “baby, infant, babe in the womb,” meaning, he’d been acquainted with the scriptures since he was very young. This was a gift given to Timothy by those who raised him and it was a gift that would sustain him all his life.
In reality, it shouldn’t surprise us that parents would give this gift to their children. If you look at how Paul describes God’s Word, why wouldn’t we give this gift to our children to help them learn discernment? He says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God...” In scripture we have the very words of the God who created the universe. We have the words of our Savior. Paul says scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” Now, doesn’t that sound like the epitome of parenting? We need to teach our children. We need to reprove our children. We need to correct our children. We need to train our children in righteousness. This book—God’s Word—is profitable for doing all those things.
In addition to this, Paul says that if we use scripture for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training and righteousness, we are helping our children to become "complete, equipped for every good work.” In the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what we want for our children? When they finally leave home, we want to have confidence in their ability to live well and follow Christ. We want to have confidence that they are equipped to enter the world, doing all that God has called them to do. And Paul says that the Bible is the best tool for accomplishing this task.
The question may be stirring in your mind, “Alright, this all sounds good, but how do I start? How do I acquaint my children with the Bible?” I could tell you to do exactly what my father did. There's a natural human tendency to try to find a “one size fits all” method and apply it to every situation. But over the years I’ve learned that doesn’t necessarily work. The process of introducing children to scripture looks different for every family and in every situation. As the father of your family, take time to figure out how you can do this for your children—what works and what doesn’t work—and recognize that it will be different for different seasons of family life. But to help you get started, here are a few important tips:
You can’t acquaint your children with something you aren’t acquainted with. Immerse yourself in God's Word. As you become increasingly acquainted with it, you will naturally begin referencing scripture in family conversations. It will begin to ooze out of you and sink into the rest of your family. As you let God’s Word become part of your life and everyday language, your children will naturally begin to become acquainted it.
I want to encourage you to start having your children read the Bible as soon as they can read. They may not understand everything—they may have questions—but this gives you the opportunity to answer the questions they have. This practice develops a healthy dynamic between you and your kids. They will learn that they can come to you for both conversation and answers about the Bible. Starting young also helps your children develop the important habit of devotional time.
Family devotions are an important part of acquainting your children with scripture. Yes, I know how hard it is to have regular family devotions. Yes, I realize how hard it is to do family devotions with young children around the table—even ten and twelve year olds. But it’s worth it. It’s worth the battle. It’s worth persevering. It’s also important to remember that you may have to start off small. You can start with very short devotions when your children are young and have short attention spans. As your children grow, you can increase the length of your devotions and find your family's rhythm. The important thing is to start somewhere and make adjustments as needed. You will be giving your children a powerful, lasting gift.
Fathers, give this gift to your children—acquaint them with the scriptures from an early age—so that when they leave your home, you can confidently say, “My children are complete, equipped for every good work.”