It’s hard to believe that such a short and simple word holds such rich and complex meaning for the Christian faith. Yet, this short five-letter word is one of the deepest and most defining for those who follow Jesus.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending some time studying the concept of grace. It has challenged and convicted me, and ultimately deepened my own faith and relationship with Jesus. As I’ve been studying though – a question has kept popping into my mind – how do we teach the power of grace to kids?
I know one thing – it is NOT easy! However, just because something is challenging doesn’t mean we can steer away from it. Like many theological concepts, we must be willing to take on the challenge and dive deep for the sake of our kids and their understanding of God.
When I talk to people about grace, and teaching it to kids, a myriad of questions come up. They include –
“What if they misunderstand grace?”
“What if they see grace as a license to do whatever they want?”
“Isn’t it so much easier just to teach them God’s rules, and leave grace for when they’re older?”
All of these questions are valid. I’ve wrestled with some of them myself. However, just because something is a little bit abstract or challenging – or may perhaps be misunderstood – doesn’t mean we should stay away. In fact, I think that shows its immense value and importance. We must teach our kids about grace. How do we do it?
First, we must get a grasp on grace ourselves.
This is of course, easier said than done. Many of us, depending on how we’ve grown up, don’t have a great understanding of grace. I talk to many people who love Jesus that don’t really “get” grace. They know they don’t deserve God’s love, but beyond that, they think or act like God’s love and goodness is based on behaviour, their personal merit or that they can somehow earn it. I’ve been guilty of this thinking too.
The reality is though, grace is God’s completely undeserved love and favour for us – ultimately seen in Jesus, His Son.
It is grace that saves us from our sin.
It is grace that motivated Jesus to come live and die on the Cross.
It is grace that transforms us to be more like Jesus.
It is grace that sustains us in our Christian life day in and day out.
It is grace that makes it possible for us to have a relationship with God.
In order to really get grace then, we must take the time to think about it, study it, and meditate on it. Our kids can be a part of this process too, if you think it’s fitting, but ultimately, you cannot lead them into an understanding of grace you don’t have yourself.
One of the BEST ways to get an understanding of grace is to dive into what the Bible has to say about grace. Read, meditate, chew it over, and think about what grace really and truly is. Here are some passages to get you started:
- Ephesians 2:1-10 (One of my FAVOURITE passages)
- 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
- John 1:14-18
- Romans 6
- Titus 2:11-14
- 2 Timothy 1:9-10
- Romans 5:15-17
This list is just meant to get you started. As you read these verses – ask yourself this question – what does this passage teach me abotu God’s grace?
There are lots of other books and studies that can help you get a better grasp on grace! I’ll link to some of my favourite at the end of this post.
As you begin to understand grace for yourself, it’s important to begin to teach your kids about the power of grace. There are three simple ways I think we can do this:
- Be intentional about the language you use!
This is especially true when it comes to our younger kids. It can be so easy to use phrases like – “It makes God sad when you disobey” or “God is happy with you when you’re good” or “Jesus loves it when you listen to the rules!” to motivate our kids towards good behaviour. While these statements aren’t necessarily wrong, I’m not sure they communicate to our kids a true understanding of God’s love and grace. Instead, it can tend to form an opinion about God’s pleasure in us that is based on our own behaviours and merits.
While it takes some work, start integrating speech ‘seasoned with grace’ into your everyday talk with your kids. This can be as simple as a “Thank you God for your grace today – and for loving us no matter what kind of day it’s been” in your nighttime prayers. It can simply mean saying something like – “I make mistakes sometimes too, and I’m so glad God still loves me! I need His grace to help me follow Him!” in a weak moment for your kids. This kind of speech doesn’t
come to most of us naturally, but it is worthwhile.
- Look for hands-on ways to explain grace to your kids!
I think that one of the best ways to make grace come alive to kids is with real-life, hands-on examples. These can be planned moments, or unplanned ones. For example, why not take a day this summer to buy your kids a gift – for no good reason? It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant – just exciting! As they unwrap it, and inevitably ask “What’s this for?” explain that it’s for no reason – just because you love them! After the excitement dies down, take a moment or two to explain to them that this is just like God’s grace. It is a gift that we get for no reason – just because God loves us! I can promise they won’t forget it.
Look for other simple, but creative ways, during your days to teach your kids about grace. I promise, if you start looking for them, they’ll become more clear. Looking for tangible, teachable moments in your family life is a great way to teach your kids about the concept of grace.
- Use music as a teaching tool.
I believe music is one of the greatest ways to teach kids. The repetition, rhythm and just plain fun of music allows deep concepts to settle into our kids’ minds and hearts – sometimes without them realizing it. Find songs that proclaim great truths about grace – and listen to them! If your kids are young (like mine), simply play that music whenever you can – in the car, while you play, or for dance parties.
If your kids are older, take it a step further. Choose a song about grace, and dive into it together. Whether an old hymn like “Amazing Grace” or a newer worship song like “Your Grace Is Enough”, get them to Google the lyrics, read them, research why the song was written and what it says about grace. You’ll be amazed at how this simple exercise can drive home a truth about grace to them.
I want Levi to grow up knowing the incredible grace of God. I want him to understand that God’s love is completely undeserved, and completely amazing! No matter how challenging it is to teach him that, I want to do my part. I hope this post can challenge you to do the same.
Resources I Recommend:
- “Grace” by Max Lucado
- “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey
- “The Case for Grace for Kids” by Lee Strobel
- “When Grace Walks In” by Stacey Thatcher (I really enjoyed this Bible study for women on Ephesians)
- “It’s All About Grace” by Parent Cue
- “God’s Grace” Bible App Plan (Great for older elementary kids)