Building Convictions in Our Youth

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The word conviction is defined as “(a) a strong persuasion or belief; (b) the state of being convinced.” Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We would say that this child has convictions; he has been convinced. We understand that churches and homes vary in their applications of Scriptural principle. Different cultures, different backgrounds, and even personal taste will influence how we apply these principles. However, these principles must be the foundation on which we build convictions in the rising generation. The local church certainly has a responsibility to shape these applications as well. While these church applications are not Scripture in themselves, they help us as parents set practical, attainable goals for our families, and bring about a degree of uniformity that can be very beneficial to our children in understanding what is a sound expression of the teachings of the Word of God.

Our title presupposes that building godly convictions does not happen naturally. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Prov 22:15). “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov 29:15). It is the responsibility of the parents of a child to train that child to have values and beliefs consistent with the godly principles his parents held dear. It is true that “things change.” It is also true that the principles of God do not change. Therefore we believe that while it is possible, and in some areas even likely, for practices to change from generation to generation or from one location to another, the principles on which our children base their lives must conform totally to the Word of God and His church.

“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:17,18). These verses support the concept that conviction, along with its appropriate behavior, does not just happen. The word vision includes the idea of restraint. The word perish literally means “to run wild.” If we do not implant these convictions in our children by teaching, discipline, and example, it is unlikely that much of our offspring will develop godly convictions on their own. The word vision carries the connotation of a plan, a set goal. Abraham was a man who had a commitment to training his children right. God recognized this when He said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD” (Gen 18:19).

This article is too short to be a complete manual on child training. Furthermore, most of us already know what it takes to do the things necessary to fulfill our calling. We simply need to be encouraged to rise to the challenge. Therefore, we will simply emphasize three things:
• The father is charged with instilling conviction.
• Building conviction takes a plan, a commitment, and an effort.
• The power of a Godly example cannot be overemphasized.

Here are three Scriptures that bear out these three points:
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
“And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.... Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever” (Jer 35:5-10,18,19).

“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.... And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deut 6:5-7,10-12).

In these passages, the father is clearly in focus. The scriptures indicate that Father is to be in charge, and that Mother also plays a large role as she works beside him. Children must know what is expected, and they must be restained and nurtured into obedience. Fathers, it is our calling to be responsible in correcting and training our children. Our wives probably spend more time with the children than we do. Their contribution to raising our children for God is also of utmost importance. As both parents work together in harmony, a Biblical pattern emerges which blesses the children in our care.

Fathers, when issues come up, act. We are responsible for what happens in our homes. A wife builds both her home and her husband as she stands faithfully beside him, looking to him for direction, and then supporting him and filling her own place well. Our families deserve to know that we have their eternal welfare foremost in our minds.

Raising godly children requires purpose and commitment. We have already seen that God knew that Abraham would command his children after him. Notice the word command. Our children need to know that obedience is not optional. Contrast this with the workings of Eli. We are told that his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. We may have things—important things—on our mind. just remember that in the long run, nothing is more important than our children. It is not always easy or convenient to have family worship, or to discuss spiritual things as we sit at the table, drive in our cars, or work together. But it needs to be done. The Rechabites did not stay faithful by accident. The “package” their father put together for them was designed to keep them away from the world. We need to be on guard against things of the world. Some of them are not all wrong in themselves, but we must evaluate where they will take our families. We certainly live in a setting similar to what is described in Deuteronomy, and it will not be easy to keep God first. The Bible is very clear that the things of the world will take our minds away from God. I believe that Jonadab had thought out his requirements for his family very carefully, and he rejected anything that would cause them to forget the Lord their God, no matter how convenient, productive, or enjoyable it would be. Jeremiah does not tell us, but I think we can be fairly certain that Jonadab lived up to the standards he had set for his family. We complain about how much time our children spend away from home, how often they’re on their phones, but are we sure they haven’t learned it from us? Are we available when we are home? How much time do we spend on our phones, “checking the news,” being seduced away from paying attention to what really matters? How much time do we actually spend with our children?

We are saddened by broken relationships; we talk about splintered youth groups and cliques; but are there people we avoid after church, or simply don’t get around to visiting in their homes? Maybe we need better teaching in this area. Maybe we also need to be better examples. We wonder why our youth seem so attracted to the newest and greatest gadgets and luxuries. What about our own houses? Our own “tools”? Our vehicles? Our gadgets? Our recreation? What about the example of our giving? Are we willing to sacrifice so that God’s work has funds available? There is nothing wrong with refusing a certain convenience because we do not need it, even if we can easily afford it. Let us check the signals we are sending our children. The world is a terribly dangerous place! We dare not fool ourselves into believing that it is "okay" to dabble with questionable conveniences as long as we don't get too attached. It is very easy to justify ourselves in this area. Let’s be honest with ourselves and our children.

“Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel” (Psa 128:1-6).

Here is a picture of a godly family. May it be true of all our families.

~ Myerstown, PA
July 2013