Our message today is entitled “Shaping a Child’s View of God.” A person’s first and strongest impression of God comes from their relationship with their parents, especially their father. Parents for a young child provide for them, protect them and teach them. Young children often think that their parents can do anything. Parents are the visible authority figures in the young child’s life.
So children, gain their understanding of what God is like from their parents. From early ages, their understanding of God is from their parent’s behavior. In later years, increased understanding of God comes from their parent’s teaching. Children who have abusive parents who rarely show love or affection, tend to have a view of God that is without love. Children tend to project the personality of their parents, particularly their father, onto God. A child with no father in their formative years often finds it difficult to relate to God as their father. So, the more we as parents are like God in our lives, the more our children will see God as He really is.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Paul’s goal in life was to be a follower or imitator of Jesus. When people looked at his life, they would have a good idea of what Jesus was like. In this verse, he instructed fellow believers to imitate or follow his example as he followed Christ. In the same way, parents should seek to be imitators of God in all their lives, so that their children will see God accurately and follow Him as they imitate their parents.
One of the key images of God in Scripture is of a father. God as father is mentioned 261 times in the Bible, but only 8 times in the Old Testament. Jesus was the one who transformed our understanding of God as Father.
Matthew 6:9 (ESV) Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Today, we’re going to look at Psalm 145 to study some of the characteristics of God. As parents, we need to have a right view of who God is. Then we should be growing in becoming more like Him, in all of life and in our parenting. As we do, we will be shaping our children’s view of God accurately. So they in turn can shape their future children’s view of God as well. All these characteristics can be demonstrated by either father or mother. In order to rightly shape our children’s view of God, we must …
Psalm 145:4 (ESV) One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
Psalm 145 is a psalm of David in praise of God. In verse four, he speaks of parents, one generation, commending or declaring of God’s mighty acts to their children, another generation. What are these mighty acts? God’s mighty acts are recorded in Scripture. Not only should parents know them, they should also positively teach them to their children. God’s mighty acts should not just be spoken of as ancient history. God’s mighty acts should be taught as revealing God’s eternal power. As such, God can and does the same powerful things today that He did in Bible times.
Parents should be able to tell their children God’s mighty acts in their own lives. When one generation tells another of God’s might acts, it causes both parents and children to …
Psalm 145:5 (ESV) On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
To meditate is to think about, to ponder, to wonder at. All too often, we just quickly read through Bible stories that speak of God. Yet, we should take time with our children to use our imaginations to recreate the scenes as they happened. What would it have been like to see God empower David to slay Goliath the giant? What would you have felt if you were in the crowd when Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb? What would you feel if you were transported into heaven as John was in the book of Revelation? Meditate on God’s splendor and power with your children. Meditation leads to worship as you …
Psalm 145:7 (ESV) They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
They here speaks of both generations, parent and children, spreading the fame of God’s goodness to all who will listen. Are you as a parent, being a witness of God’s goodness to others as an example to your children? The last part of the verse speaks of singing aloud of God’s righteousness? Your children should be able to see you as a parent worshipping God with all your heart, both at home and at church. Whether we realize it or not, they are watching everything that we do. As we allow God to impact every aspect of our lives, it will shape our children’s view of God.
Now, none of us as parents can ever perfectly represent God to our children. Yet, God would have us be mindful that everything we do is impacting our children’s view of God. Ask God to show you what areas of your life you need His help in to better represent Him to your children. Ask God for His forgiveness for the times you’ve misrepresented Him. Even if your children are gone from home, seek God’s help to speak of Him to your children, telling of His mighty acts in your life. As you do, God will use you to shape your children’s view of God. The things you do will also help others outside your family to see God for who He really is and be drawn to Him. Not only must we speak of God’s mighty acts, we should …
Psalm 145:8a (ESV) The LORD is gracious and merciful …
One of the most important aspects of God’s character is His grace and mercy. This is an area where many people’s parents lacked in and so their view of God is warped. Many people think of God as simple a stern God seeking to punish them all the time. Yet, the Lord is gracious, He is full of grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor or blessing.
You see, each and every one of us deserves to spend eternity in hell for our sin. Yet, because of the Lord’s grace and mercy in sending Jesus to take our punishment, we have an opportunity to become children of God. As parents, we need to show grace to our children as God does to us.
Psalm 145:8b (ESV) … slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Rather than being the angry God that some people think, probably because of angry parents, God is slow to anger. Because of His grace, He give people many opportunities to repent and turn to Him. The reason that God is slow to anger is because He is overflowing with love.
How can we as parents be slow to anger? How can we show steadfast love to our children, whether they’re obeying or disobeying? Of course, as parents, we don’t overlook disobedience. Last Sunday we talked about the importance of godly discipline. Yet, in every aspect of life with our children, they should remember our patient love that never gives up on them.
Psalm 145:9 (ESV) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The Lord, our heavenly Father, is good, not just to His children, but to all. So, we as parents should seek be good to everyone, not just to our family, not just to our church family, but to everyone, believer and unbeliever alike. God seeks to bless everyone in many different ways and so should we, so that our children can understand God’s goodness.
These aspects of God’s character, that we should emulate as parents, are called the fruit of the Spirit in the New Testament. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That list sound a lot like the character of God, we’ve been discussing today and it should. You see the fruit of the Spirit is the character of the Holy Spirit, who is God, demonstrated in the life of the believer.
As we as parents walk more and more with the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, it helps our children see what God is like. And it helps them to develop the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives. Not only should we speak of God’s mighty acts and emulate God’s character, we should …
Psalm 145:14 (ESV) The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
The Lord doesn’t abandon those who fall or who are under heavy burdens, He sustains them and encourages them. At times, your children will fall, they will get in trouble, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. Those are the times, they need you as a parent to uphold them, to be there for them. It begins when you help them learn how to walk after falling many times. It continues through later years when they are discouraged about things in life. A godly parent is not aloof and uncaring, they act to help their children in need.
Psalm 145:15 (ESV) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
God provides for His children everything that they need in life, on every level. Now, we as parents cannot provide everything that God does, but we can provide for our children in many ways. Obviously, we must provide for their daily food, shelter and clothing. But provision goes beyond the typical physical needs. Your children need to be affirmed and provided for in developing their God-given talents and abilities. As you as parents do this, your children will learn to depend on God to do even more than we can do as parents to provide.
Psalm 145:18 (ESV) The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
God is ever present, He is ready to answer whenever we call on Him for help. As parents, we must be there for our children when they call for our help. They must know that we are there for them. Our children must also learn as they grow older, that we as parents call on God for help. When we call, God answers our prayers and God will answer our children’s prayers. God’s character is reflected in His actions. So, we as parents should reflect God’s character in our actions as well.
Helping those in need goes beyond just helping your family. Your children should see you helping those in need outside your family. Those you know and those you don’t know. Your children should see you supporting missions that ministers to people around the world in need. They should see you helping those in need right here in St. Louis.
A child’s view of God is shaped first and foremost by their parents, both mother and father. God wants to help every parent and grandparent to better represent Him to their children. At any age, we must speak of God’s mighty acts, both in Scripture and in our lives. Ask for God’s help that you might be an example of God’s gracious character in every aspect of life. Seek God’s direction to be a parent who helps those in need. Your children need to see that you help both them and others outside the family who are in need. As you grow as a parent, you are also going to grow as a witness for Jesus.