The Challenge of Thinking Biblically

by Kathryn Day

As much as we desire to fight against it, the ideas and beliefs of our culture are constantly trying to influence our way of thinking as Christians.  The struggle to strive for Christ-centered thoughts, motives and desires instead of chasing after worldly pursuits is hard enough for adults, but especially for children.  So what does it look like to teach them to process what they see and hear in the world around them from a Christian perspective?

One of the things that I have been most impressed with about our 4th grade Bible curriculum here at the Day School is the way it defines certain “character building” words.  With each Bible lesson that we study, there is a character trait to define and discuss with our students.  Most often the definition that our curriculum gives differs greatly from the definition that our culture would give of the very same word.  What has been so eye-opening and convicting to me is seeing how much the culture has slipped into my own way of thinking!

For example, how would you define self-control?  Both teachers and parents use the term frequently in addressing children’s behavior, but what is it exactly that we are expecting of them when we ask them to show more self-control?  Webster’s Dictionary defines self-control as “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires.”  If I am honest, when I tell students to practice more self-control, this is typically what I have in mind!  I desire for them to hold back their impulsive talking, their complaints about an assignment, their frustrations with another student or situation, etc.

But our 4th grade curriculum defines self-control as “giving up total control of oneself to the Holy Spirit.”  What a completely different, yet Biblically based definition!  As Christians we aren’t called to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and work to better ourselves on our own, but to freely admit our inability to change apart from the help of the Holy Spirit.  As this definition so wisely states, when I give up control of myself and surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit, only then am I able to see God at work changing my behavior and making me more self-controlled.  A life controlled by the Holy Spirit is a life of self-control!

In talking about these character traits with our students, I have been reminded over and over of how important it is that we teach them to think Biblically and process what they see and hear in the culture around them through the lens of Scripture.  Encouraging them to take everything back to the truths they know in the Bible is essential.  It has also been a tremendous challenge to me personally in realizing my own tendency to let the world influence my way of thinking.   What a reminder that we ALL are dependent upon the Lord to teach us how to live a Christ-centered life and keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus.