How to help children develop a taste for the things of God.

I was fascinated by a time lapse video of a field of sunflowers that danced in harmony tracking the sun across the sky. It was like thousands of bright yellow faces all moved in unison from east to west. Later, I discovered the video was faked because blooming sunflowers are not heliotropic. That’s a great word to know for your next party. Budding sunflowers are heliotropic – they track the sun across the sky – but mature ones don’t.

While some plants do naturally grow toward the sun humans don’t. We tend to be drawn to darkness. We’re fascinated by things we should avoid. Our natural bent is away from the light, the opposite direction of the way we should grow.

I was talking with a grandmother recently who was concerned when her daughter, a Christian, informed her that she felt her children should be allowed to experiment and make their own choice when it came to following the Lord. “I’m afraid if I try to force them to believe like me they’ll rebel and go another way.”

I was impressed when the grandmother told me her response. Her daughter was somewhat of a fanatic on healthy eating. “Sherry”, she asked, “do you plan to take that same approach to their nutrition – put chocolate and broccoli before them and let them choose which they want? Aren’t you concerned that if you feed them vegetables as children they might rebel and eat only candy later?

I know you aren’t going to do that because you’re older and wiser than them and you’ve seen the negative effects of eating poorly. So naturally you’re going to make wise decisions for the children as long as you can. That’s no guarantee that when they grow up they won’t eat chocolate and drink Coke for every meal but you sure aren’t going to allow them to do that while you are responsible for them.

Why wouldn’t you apply the same wisdom to their spiritual health that you are applying to their physical health?”

While children are under our protection we have a responsibility to direct them toward the light. We are older and wiser. They can’t always see or even understand if we tried to explain to them the long-term harm of their bad choices. We need to expose them to healthy food and spiritual choices.

That’s no guarantee they won’t later stop following the Lord or go on candy binges or develop a taste for evil but we can’t allow them to haphazardly make their own choices when they are too young to understand the consequences of those dangerous choices.

A child fed vegetables is more likely to develop a taste for vegetables and lead a healthier life. A child trained in the way they should go spiritually is more likely to make healthy spiritual choices and enjoy a healthier eternity.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.     – Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

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