Imitation—the highest form of flattery. I smiled as I looked at the old picture of my father and me sitting side by side at the picnic table. My pudgy, miniature 3-year-old frame holding the same pose as my father’s, though his feet were firmly planted in front of him and mine dangling several inches off the ground. I am my father’s daughter.
While genetics and nature play a huge part in many of our similarities, nurture, training, and environment certainly played an even bigger role in the formation and development of values in my young life.
Children Are Sponges
Children are highly sensitive and easily impressionable. They will soak up anything that enters their eye gate and ear gate, especially from those with whom they form emotional attachments. For better or for worse, when interacting with children, we must remember that so much more is caught than taught. A child’s sensitive heart can so easily be imprinted upon.
A child’s sensitive heart can so easily be imprinted upon.
A few years ago, while I was lobbying for pro-Israel policies on Capitol Hill, a chief legal aide to one of the senators referenced how his grandmother had received Israel My Glory (a bimonthly periodical distributed by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.) for years. He said that her interest in Israel and the Bible’s reference to God’s love for Israel had left a lasting impression on his young heart. This same answer or some variation of it has been shared from many evangelical supporters of Israel through the years.
What are children catching in their everyday environment? God placed great emphasis on the importance of purposefully immersing children in God’s Word every day (Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Teach them diligently. Talk about Me while you’re sitting at home. Talk about Me while you’re traveling. Post it where you will see it and remember that it’s all about loving Me.
In light of this principle, what are the children in your life catching from you? How are you currently nurturing God’s love for Israel within your own heart?
Children Are Copycats
Whether in the negative sense or positive, learning from examples is not a new concept. The Scriptures are filled with positive and negative examples. The apostle Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Just one chapter earlier, he had given a warning against idolatry in 1 Corinthians 10 in the form of a negative example from which we should learn. In a sense, Paul is saying, “Don’t copy them! Copy me, as I copy Christ!”
Children develop both mentally and socially through mimicry. Usually, children show interest in what you show interest in, and they want to be invited and included. Your excitement and passion to know God and study His Word will ignite younger hearts who want to know God. As you learn more about God’s love for Israel and His eternal plan of redemption, God’s love will spill over into their young hearts.
Your excitement and passion to know God and study His Word will ignite younger hearts who want to know God.
The Ten Boom home exemplified this kind of spiritual leadership. Corrie ten Boom’s grandfather was asked by his pastor to bless the Jews in prayer, and this practice became a regular practice in the Ten Boom home. More than 100 years later, their home became a hiding place for Jews in Holland during Europe’s Holocaust. In her book In my Father’s House, Corrie attributes her family’s strength and courage to stand up for God and His Chosen People in the face of terrible persecution and even death to the way they were raised.
Include children. Include them in your Bible reading time. Include them as you pray for Israel. Include them as you learn about the culture and customs of the Bible. What do you know about the appointed feasts of Israel in Leviticus 23? Did you know that they foreshadow Christ? How can you include your children in celebrating/acting out these holidays? The field of biblical archaeology has really exploded onto the scene in the past century. Explain the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and how God has sovereignly preserved His Word through the centuries. Show them their name in Hebrew and explain how God revived this special language. Introduce them to real life heroes of the faith who shared God’s love with the Jewish people. Play some Hebrew praise music while you bake challah bread together. (Check out The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry webstore for resources to nurture your own love for God’s Chosen People.)
Give the children in your life a chance to copy you as you copy Christ. As you follow this Jewish Messiah together, your hearts will grow in love and compassion towards God’s Chosen People.