Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Unfortunately this principle seems to be “lost in translation” nowadays. In fact, one of the most dangerous areas where children are attacked is in their identity, which certainly falls within the parameters of “training up a child”.
Earlier and earlier, children are being shaped and molded to fit cultural standards or societal norms more than they are being shaped and molded into a child of God. It is as if people care more about their worldly reputation than their character and their soul. Regardless, we seem to have an identity-less generation that has forgotten who they are in Christ.
But what can we do about it? You see, God has given us the opportunity and the steps to “train up” this generation. We have the tools, we just have to use them. You may be asking where to start when it comes to identity for children, I have provided some simple parts dealing with identity.
The first part about our identity in Christ is none other than accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Children, even at an early age, can accept His gift of eternal life through faith. John 1:12 reminds us that “All who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”. Thus, salvation gives even children who believe in His name the right to become children of God. They are not children of this world, nor are they children of culture, but are children of God. Scripture reminds us not to conform to this world, but to be transformed. We become transformed when we allow the Lord to work within us. Kids are no different than we are and can become transformed in their lives, to where they desire to worship and serve the Lord even at an early age!
The second part about our identity in Christ is that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. One of the greatest demonstrations of an identity in Christ is by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. We know too well that according to Scripture, a bad tree cannot produce good fruit and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. Because of this principle, people must be able to see the fruit of the Spirit within a person. Galatians 5:22-23 shares those with us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”. We must teach children how to allow the Holy Spirit to work within them. Additionally, we must teach them about the fruit of the Spirit and how it reflects a life devoted to Christ.
The final part about our identity that I will share today revolves around God’s Word. The only way we can truly know the heart and mind of God is to consume God’s Word. Children are never too young to learn God’s word, whether that is by being read to or by reading it themselves. When we read and study God’s word, it begins to permeate within us. Suddenly, our minds are filled with God-thoughts and our hearts with love and truth. God’s Word teaches us who we are in Christ. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus, how can we truly know our identity in Christ if we do not consume God’s Word? It’s why many within this generation is biblically illiterate, spiritually starving, and identity-less.
But does it really matter? Yes! Our identity is super important. One definition states that identity is the “fact of being who or what a person or thing is”. Who are you? Many children cannot answer this question or are confused in regards to many aspects of their identity. Truly what is lacking is a relationship with Christ, no fruit of the Spirit, and no Word of God. Without these three, how can we expect a generation to know truly who they are and whose they are?
Identity is the key to unlocking the spiritual attacks on this younger generation. We must train them up in the ways of the Lord so that they can know who they are. When they know who they are in Christ, they are less likely to give in to cultural demands and societal norms. Simply put, identity is the root and we must deal with the root to enable kids to be able to make good decisions and to stay on the path of righteousness and faith. Proverbs 22 teaches us that if we take these steps to protect and train up a child, then they are less likely to depart from their faith.
It is not enough to entertain, to facilitate, or to babysit the younger generation, but begin to train them up through teaching them about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and how to read and understand God’s Word. When we successfully do this, we can make a difference in a child’s life and see God move and work within their lives.