A FRIEND of mine and her young child were shopping. When they went to the checkout counter, the child picked up an item he wanted. The mother didn't notice he had it until they were in the car and halfway home. When the mother realized the child was playing with this item in the back seat, she was tempted to excuse it as just an innocent accident. The child hadn't meant to shoplift--and, in fact, didn't really know he had.
At first she thought, ``What does it matter?'' But she knew shoplifting wasn't right, and she wanted to be conscientious about what she was teaching her child. She then thought, ``I've just enrolled him in a Christian Science Sunday School, and he's learning about the Ten Commandments. What a perfect time to help him learn more about the commandment ``Thou shalt not steal'' (Exodus 20:15). The mother took the child back to the store, told the clerk what had happened, and returned the item.
She then explained her reasoning and actions to her child. She taught him about this particular commandment by talking with him about obeying God's laws and how we're blessed when we obey them. The child never again shoplifted, and he learned a little more about basing his actions upon the teachings of the Bible.
What we teach our children is important. Raising our children to be strong, moral, and spiritual is not always easy. It often requires a great deal of selflessness and prayer to overcome our own bad habits of thought and behavior so that we can set a good example for our children! Through consecrated prayer we can cultivate the needed selflessness, acknowledge God's power and guidance, and let our desires and actions be governed by God. Praying literally changes our thinking--and consequently our actions. And, as our actions reflect our more spiritually based lives, they become better models for our children.
Bad thoughts and inclinations are baseless because they do not originate in God, who is only good. They are overcome through the reformation of thought that results from acknowledging that God is all-powerful and allowing Him to govern our thoughts, desires, and actions. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, asks in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Is not the propagation of the human species a greater responsibility, a more solemn charge, than the culture of your garden or the raising of stock to increase your flocks and herds? Nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children'' (p. 61).
The desire to teach our children to be and do good has far-reaching effects. The Bible tells us in Proverbs, ``Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it'' (22:6). Whether we're adults or children, once we've learned the value of God's way, there's no temptation to depart from it. We know from experience the allness of Spirit, God.
Christ Jesus showed us the effects of basing our lives on obedience to God. And his Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew's Gospel- -particularly the Beatitudes--shows us the blessings such spiritual living brings. The desire to be and do good is supported by God. He guides us and leads us to accomplish more good. God created each one of His children--and that includes us and our children-- receptive to His guidance and government. When we're guided by God and His laws ourselves, as taught by Christ Jesus, we naturally guide our children to follow these same spiritual laws. They propel our own growth Godward, and they are fundamental to our children's proper training.