One of the staples and delicacies of the Australian diet is a black paste called vegemite. Made from yeast extract and salt, vegemite is as standard in Australian diet as peanut butter is to the average American. Aussies like nothing better than to have vegemite on toast with breakfast. Most Americans, when given vegemite on toast, can’t move fast enough to gulp down some water and get rid of what to them tastes horrible.
So why do Australians crave vegemite and Americans can’t stand the taste of it? In Australia, mothers fed vegemite to babies so they would learn to acquire a taste for this delicacy at a young age. Australians grew up loving vegemite for the rest of their long and happy lives.
Americans, however, don’t get to taste vegemite until and Australian suggests they try it—usually as part of an ill-conceived prank. Because they have never acquired a taste for it, they can’t stand it, and so will have nothing to do with it for the rest of their short and deprived lives.
What then can we learn from this concerning the spiritual training of our children? Is there an analogy? With just a little stretch, I believe there is. Just like children need to acquire a taste for vegemite at an early age, they need to be exposed to biblical input as well, so that they might acquire a craving for the things of God, and the sooner they get this input, the more they will desire the truth throughout their lives.
It’s never too soon to begin, and the more Scripture they are exposed to, the more they will absorb and become accustomed to the Word of God. As they learn to apply the truth that they are learning, they will develop the discernment to navigate through the temptations of the world, but this takes time and faithful feeding by the parents. Only as they mature will they be able to influence others in the same way.
Right from the time children are born, they need to be taught how to act and think as a Christian should.
This means applying discipline in accord with biblical standards, having regular devotions and teaching times, practically applying Christian thinking in every area, making it clear that God’s Word is central to the home, and protecting children from bad influences that they are not ready to handle. That’s a given. We need “vegemite kids” of faith, who will eventually long for the real meat of truth, and then become salt and light to the world.
1. We cannot expect our children to be salt and light until they first become salt and light. It is too easy to lose saltiness in an unsalty environment.
2. It is impossible to train children under a worldly system and then add God to it. You cannot Christianize a secular philosophy.
3. Our children are not “good.” They have sinful natures and fleshly tendencies that make them highly vulnerable to temptation and compromise.
4. Building a defensible biblical foundation for our children allows them to develop a defensible faith. When done in love, this is completely different from forcing Christianity on them from the top down.
1. The educational choices you make have great impact on the sanctification of your child. Make these choices wisely, according to biblical principles, and even at great personal sacrifice.
2. Always monitor the content of what your child is being taught, even in a Christian school or in home school curricula.
3. Never give up your responsibility to be the primary trainer of truth for your children.
4. Strive to always communicate the truth in love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.