Building Faith In Children
(Part Three: Layer Upon Layer)

  By Kim Butts

    Children are so open to understanding the deepest truths of God if we will accept His powerful mandates to nurture and train them. As our families live within the stories of Scripture in effective ways that will bring the purposes and plans of God to life within us, our neighborhoods and culture can be changed to reflect the light of Jesus Christ. Building faith in our children will enable them to stand firm in the face of the enemy as they function effectively within the kingdom of God. Genuine faith will be characterized by a consistent lifestyle of Christ-like behavior.

    For the final segment of this three part article, we will focus on completing the last three attributes within 2 Peter 1:3-8 as we continue to learn to build layer by layer upon a foundation of faith: godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

    "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:3-8).

    And to perseverance, godliness: "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4). James was implying that the work of perseverance is ongoing and thorough. It is vital if we are to finish the race well and receive the "crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:4). As we learn to persevere as believers, God will begin to develop godliness within us. Scripture has much to say about godliness, which means that we are to walk in God’s truth and possess the attributes of God. We are to be holy people, revering and worshiping the Lord. As parents, this is what we must model for our children. It is not an easy assignment, as we all know. Fortunately, we are not facing an impossible task, just a difficult one. Peter states that God has created us with everything necessary to be godly: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3). Here are some Scriptural ways to develop godliness in the life of your family:

    • We are to train ourselves to be godly. "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly" (1 Timothy 4:7). In our culture there are many lies which come from many sources (for example, media, television, etc.). One powerful way to train ourselves is to take the focus off of the "godless myths" and put our thoughts upon "…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things" (Philippians 4:8). Train your children to apply whatever they hear to this passage of God’s Word, and to discard those things that don’t lead to godliness.

    Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). Just as athletes recognize the value of physical training, Christians must also recognize the value for what pleases God in this life and eternally. If each of us would ask the question, "Does this please God?" before engaging in any activity, thinking any thought, or speaking, we would avoid much ungodly behavior. Even if everyone around us is engaging in disrespectful or damaging behavior, we must stand firm, contented to know that standing firm upon Christ and His Word, even in the face of ridicule or persecution will bring the highest rewards. Since we have already learned the importance of self-control, we will be able to persevere and be content.

    Godliness with contentment is great gain. "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it" (1 Timothy 6:6-7). Living a godly life should not be drudgery, but the highest joy because we are bringing pleasure to the Lord. We must be careful not to envy or covet what others have, and we should always do our best to simplify what we ourselves possess. Learn to hold loosely to everything, and to be content in every circumstance, being like the Apostle Paul who said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13). Teach your family how to be content in every circumstance of life.

    • The Lord has set apart the godly for Himself and will hear when we call to Him. "Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for Himself; the LORD will hear when I call to Him" (Psalm 4:3). As we develop godliness, we are becoming more like Jesus. God draws near to hear when we speak to Him because we desire to be close to His heart, and obedient to His Word. "Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him" (Psalm 32:6).

    • God’s grace teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14). God’s grace teaches us how to live according to the Spirit and not according to the world.

    And to godliness, brotherly kindness: Brotherly kindness, as a term, is only found in this passage in Second Peter. It refers to having a warmhearted affection toward other believers. Christians often damage the Name of Jesus by not behaving kindly toward one another, which is why this attribute is so important. If we have trained ourselves to be godly and then treat one another unkindly, we must go back and examine ourselves to see if the qualities Peter has emphasized for us are truly on the increase.

    • Brotherly kindness forgives: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). The sin of unforgiveness is a huge problem for believers. Train your family to be quick to forgive one another in brotherly kindness!

    • Brotherly kindness does not take revenge: "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 5:15). It is important that our children learn how to deal with the wrong things that are done and said to them in a godly way. Being kind to those who are unkind to us pleases God. Jesus said, "…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:28). Prayer is able to diffuse the actions and words of those who treat us unkindly so that we are able to extend brotherly kindness rather than revenge.

    And to brotherly kindness, love: The last layer is also the most all encompassing, and is the focus of the two great commands of the Lord: "Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’" (Matthew 22:37-39). Every Christian home should focus upon the importance of loving God and loving others before anything else. Is the Lord the primary love interest in your home? Do your children love Him with all of their hearts, souls and minds because they have seen such love demonstrated in your own life? Are other people and their lives important to your family? Do you pray for the lost? Are you seeking ways to demonstrate the love of God to your neighbors? God has a purpose, a plan, and a promise for those who love Him and who will obey His Word: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

    Take time as a family to look up these Scriptures about love. Talk about what they mean and use the Word as a basis for your prayers as you ask the Father to pour His love into your hearts: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 16:14; Romans 5:5, 8:28, 12:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Ephesians 5:1-2, 5:8-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8, 4:8; 1 John 4:12, 4:16-19; Jude 1:20-21; Philemon 1:9-11; Matthew 5:43-44; John 14:15.

    For if you do these things, you will never fall: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:3-11).

    God expects us, as His followers, to continue moving forward on our spiritual journeys. Goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and Christian love must continually be on the increase in our lives. In order to reflect the light of Jesus to our culture, the Church, filled with godly families, should demonstrate such behavior in abundance. Too many marriages and families are falling because these spiritual qualities have been neglected. It’s time to take a stand for righteousness so that your family will bring glory and honor to the King of kings. Take time to build faith in your home, layer by layer, so that you will never fall!

    If you would like to read more articles by Kim Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.