We never think about it much, but Jesus can give our kids great tips on how to grow up well. The Bible doesn’t tell us a whole lot about Jesus before he was an adult, but if you combine what it does tell us with what we know about the culture in that time and place, we have a lot of guidance. The best part is Jesus gives your kids the perfect example of how to mature.
If our children can learn to model what Jesus did in his youth, they will be copying the perfect example. So what did Jesus do when he was young that our children should copy?
- Jesus took great care of his body. The Bible mentions more than once that Jesus grew and became strong. Although the Bible doesn’t give us specifics, we know a lot about the culture in which Jesus was raised. Their diet is what is often referred to today as a Mediterranean diet. It obviously contained no processed foods and was heavy in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I would imagine children walked everywhere they went, so they would have been in great physical shape. Jesus probably also helped Joseph in his business, which would have been very physical labor. A potato chip or french fry won’t destroy your children. For them to be healthy and strong like Jesus, they need to have a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.
- Jesus studied the scriptures- a lot. The Bible does’t mention anything about Jesus and school, but we can assume his education was the same as other boys in his day. He would have attended school at the local synagogue five days a week. All of their subjects were taught around one textbook – what is now our Old Testament. Assuming he went to synagogue with his family on the Sabbath, Jesus was studying the Bible as it was in his time at least six days a week! Your children don’t have to attend a private Christian school to study the Bible every day. Have regular family devotionals. Attend worship services. Encourage your child to read his Bible independently as soon as he is able to read well. In order to be truly grounded in God’s word, your child needs constant prolonged exposure to the Bible.
- Jesus obeyed God. The Bible tells Jesus grew in favor with God. We have to assume since Jesus never sinned, he obeyed all of God’s commands. In order for our children to be obedient to God, they first need to learn to obey us. Our rules should reflect godly principles and we should explain these principles to our children. Our children won’t be perfect like Jesus, but they need to understand the importance of obedience and practice it daily.
- Jesus talked about God with others. Who can forget the story of Jesus in the Temple at the age of twelve having discussions about God with adult religious leaders? We don’t have other details, but I think if Jesus were bold enough to have those discussions at the Temple, he was probably having them with his friends, family and others around Nazareth. Do your children understand how important it is to share the news of God with other people? Do they even know anything to share? Help them learn and understand the basics about God, Jesus and living a Christian life. Encourage them to share the information in loving and meaningful ways with the people they meet.
Unfortunately, our children will not be perfect children or teens. They will make mistakes. Some of them minor and perhaps even a few major ones. If they are trying to mirror the example Jesus set in his youth, your children may have a chance at a relatively smooth and successful youth. Share this post with them and get their thoughts and ideas. Can they think of other ways Jesus modeled or taught how to grow up well? I’d love to hear their thoughts in a comment below.