And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. Father’s Day will be upon us soon. It is good that children take time to reflect upon the impact made by our parents in our lives. It is even more important that parents examine ourselves as to the kind of parents we are. Sadly, not all children who reflect upon the impact their parents had in their lives will conclude that their parents made a positive difference with them. Moms and Dads, it is therefore vital that we be the parents God would have us to be.
Deuteronomy 6 is an excellent guide for parents who wish to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Almighty God specifically commanded the nation of Israel to teach His laws and commandments and diligently obey them all the days of their lives if they wanted to have good and prosperous lives (6:1-3). He taught them that the Lord is one, and they were to love the Lord their God with their entire being…with all their heart, soul, and might (6:4-5). He taught them to keep His commandments in their hearts (6:6).
Parents, look closely at verses 7-9. He wanted those Israelites parents to diligently teach His commands to their children. It was something to be discussed daily at home, when they were out and about, in the evenings before bed and in the mornings at breakfast. In ancient times the Jews took verse 8 and 9 literally. They took the words of Scripture which were written on papyrus, rolled them up, and sowed them into the linen on their sleeves (“bind them as a sign on your hand”), made devices called “tephilin” which were two small boxes an inch in size which contained passages of Scripture to place close to their faces (“frontlets between your eyes”), and made small containers called “mezuzah” containing passages of Scripture to place on the door posts of their houses. It is likely God was speaking metaphorically in Deuteronomy 6:8-9 to emphasize what He had commanded them in verses 6 and 7: that His commandments were to be in theirs and their children’s hearts via focusing on His Word as a family everyday.
In the New Testament, we see fathers being directly commanded to “bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We see the example of Timothy’s mother and grandmother instilling their faith in God within him by teaching him the Scriptures as a child (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). Indeed, a major reason Christianity continues to exist as a religion is due to each generation of Christians teaching it to others, who in turn teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Tragically, many parents do not teach God’s ways to their children today. Our children will be taught by someone if not us, and that someone will likely be an enemy of God. Any instruction your children receive from the church in the form of Sunday School, youth group devotionals, sermons in worship assemblies, and the like should be solely supplemental to the teaching and example you yourselves give to them each day. Yet many parents neglect spiritual instruction in favor of education concerning the things of this world and involvement in many, many extra-curricular activities. Such things are important to a degree, to be sure; yet when your child stands before God their 4.0 GPA, their first-place track trophy, and their college scholarships won’t matter when all is said and done. The only thing which will matter is whether they were faithful, obedient Christians. Many will not be stand before God as such due primarily to their parents’ lack of teaching and example. This lack of daily biblical instruction is a calamity not only for the children but also for the parents themselves since no head of any family can neglect God’s instruction to teach their children His ways without endangering their own soul.
Moms and Dads, always put God first in your lives in every way. Help your kids to do likewise.