Talking about Walking
What are your spiritual goals—or hopes—for your Christian children? What benchmarks of progress are you looking for in their relationship with God?
It’s not an easy question, and I think we can fall out of balance in one extreme or the other. On the one hand, some parents can become obsessive about their child’s spiritual development, pushing kids to feel big emotions in response to the grace of God or voluntarily perform great acts of service or simply display near-flawless attitudes of humility, obedience, or zeal much sooner than is reasonable.
In that way, we can be like the first-time parent who begins obsessing about the fact that his eight-month old can’t yet walk, driving himself to distraction looking up all the conditions that might eventually keep a baby from graduating from that “wounded soldier” crawl. We have to be patient and allow kids to develop at their own pace.
On the other hand, we wouldn’t think highly of any parents who did nothing to help their child move toward walking or feeding herself or graduating from diapers. We expect parents to participate in the development of their kids’ physical progress.
As believers, we can also set spiritual goals for our kids that are way too low, hoping for nothing more than a little respect, obedience, and avoidance of “big sins” like sex, drugs, and grand theft auto.
In the middle somewhere, is a healthy attitude that expects to see our Christian kids making progress toward walking after Jesus in some specific ways—not as a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts, but as a normal part of their spiritual maturity. (We should expect to see these same things in ourselves, as well.)
To that end, we’re hoping to talk with our kids this week (and next) about some of the walking skills listed in Romans 12:9-21. And we hope a few of the questions below will help to get that conversation going.
You might want to have a Bible handy to read a few of these verses together if that fits naturally into some of the talking time you have available.
- What are some of the things you can think of that normal Christians should do or think or feel that are different from people who are not Christians? Should anything be different about us?
- If someone grew up in a Christian home and called himself a Christian, but never really did or said or thought about any of the things that other Christians do, what would you wonder about him?
- Does any Christian have to do a bunch of things to prove she is a Christian? Do we have to do anything to prove we love God or belong to Him? [Parent: Emphasize that just as your child will always belong in your family no matter what they do, everyone who trusts in Christ for salvation belongs to God even when they don’t do everything they could for Him.]
- So if it’s not about proving something to God, then why should we ever worry about doing or thinking or feeling anything as a Christian?
- Think of it this way: Does a child ever need to learn to walk to be a child in a family? [Parent: No, obviously not.] But if a child never learns to walk, is that a healthy child? Would a person who could walk—who was physically healthy otherwise—ever just not walk because they didn’t feel like it for their whole life? [Parent: No. Every human being who has the ability to walk does so.]
- Does it make sense, then, that kids in God’s family who have the ability to walk like Jesus will eventually begin to do so—that if they aren’t starting to walk like Jesus, that might show that something unhealthy is going on?
- Romans 12 describes some of the normal things that people who walk like Jesus should expect to be able to do. Let’s talk about a few of them.
- It says that “love must be sincere.” What are some ways that love can be fake? What are some of the things that people who love with the real love of God will do for each other?
- We’re told to hate was is evil and cling to what is good. What are some evil things—or things that are against God—that are hard to hate? What are some good things that are hard to cling to if we’re not trying?
- Have you noticed as you grow as a Christian that you’re beginning to hate things that are against God and to love things that are for Him? Should you expect to see that in your life as you learn to walk more and more like Jesus?
- How about being devoted to other Christians like they’re in your own family? What are some specific ways you’ve seen our family do that? How could we maybe do better?
- How hard is it to honor other people like they are more important than we are? Have you ever noticed other Christians giving up with they wanted to do good for someone else? Have you ever caught yourself making that choice? Should you expect to?
- [Parent: You can form more of these kinds of questions from verses 11-13 as they fit your child. We’ll be back next week with more examples of discussion questions from Romans 12.]