The passage we are looking at is Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The bible passage we just read is a piece of instruction given to the people of God, but before we get there let’s understand the context so we can make sense of these passages.
- Israelites escape slavery from Egypt
- They meet at Mount of Sinai and make a covenant with God to obey all his commandments
- After which they walk and wander in the desert for 40 years towards the promised land
- They are now standing right next to the Jordan river preparing to enter the promised land
- And Moses gets up and gives them a speech – which is the book of Deuteronomy.
Even though Moses is the one giving the speech, these are not His words. In chapter 6:1 he says “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you”
Today since its Elnathan dedication day, we are looking at a certain portion of the speech that is specifically addressed to parents, the way God wants us to bring up our children.
Elnathan is born to Abiah & Elijah, and they hold the primary responsibility to bring him up. But he is also born into the larger family of God, the church. And therefore, just as these instructions are important to the parents, it is also given to the larger family of God. As Abiah & Elijah is dedicating Elnathan and committing to follow these instructions in the presence of all the witnesses, in some way we are also committing to help, support and participate in it as brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers. Therefore, these instructions are important to us as well.
As we saw earlier, this instruction is from God and not from man.
And here’s why this instruction is important. We need to heed to them so that everything goes well with us and that we enjoy God choicest blessing for our life as written in v3. “Hear, therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
The instruction is to diligently teach our children something. The word diligently means to do it with care and with a sense of duty.
And what is he asking us to teach our children?
V4-5. 4 “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
The instruction is to teach them to love God more than anything else.
We love God in response to His Love for us – In the Old Testament, the people of God experienced Gods love through his care and hand of protection over their lives.
But for us, the privileged ones in the new covenant, we experience God’s love through His son Jesus who came to this world to die for our sins and repair our broken relationship through his sacrifice on the cross, so that we don’t suffer in our Sin but rather live victorious lives knowing that Christ is our permanent Shepherd & Caretaker.
What we are asked to teach our children is to point their hearts to Christ, and as their hearts are transformed by the Gospel they inevitably reciprocate in loving God. This is the primary and most important command that God has given us to bring up our children.
To accomplish this goal, I want to put across two words for us to take home and meditate on.
The first word is TALK … communicate … have conversations.
Research says one of the primary reason children grow up having behavioural issues & other disorders are because of the lack of communication between parents and children.
Parents should be the primary voice talking to the child – obviously, to talk more you need to spend more time – and more than talking about studies, career & marriage, what we need to talk most is about God’s love, about His son Jesus, the Gospel, and the Gospel stories that change and transforms us.
We do that by daily evaluating our day with our child and pondering on the conversations we have. Worldly vs Gospel-centered.
The natural tendencies are to talk about the problems and grievances of this broken world, family problems, school problems, college problems, social problems and sadly even church problems.
What our children need to often hear are not problems of this broken world but the hope we are offered through the Gospel, stories of redemption experienced amid this broken world. Not the story and events that make them frustrated and angry towards each other, but stories that make them fall in love with Jesus and His redeeming qualities.
And I say that because unfortunately, that is not what is spoken and communicated in our Christian homes today. It is the outside world talking to them through TV or other mediums, the negative & hurting hearts of parents & people influencing them negatively.
Abiah & Elijah, you are called to be the primary communicator in Nathan’s life, communicating the Gospel, leading his heart to love God with all his heart, mind and soul.
verse 7-9 says “talk of them when you sit in your house (eating food, playing games, doing house chores), and when you walk by the way (going to school, going to the market, taking a jog, driving the car), and when you lie down, and when you rise. (telling bedtime stories, the day that went by, the day that will start tomorrow) 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (sticking bible verses around the house, on the fridge, in their bedroom) 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (every place visible to the child where he is reminded of God’s love)
Talk. Talk. …….
The second word is ‘Walk’… to model
Our talking will only be effective and deliver desired results when you also Model it for them as we communicate. Let’s get this right, We can’t be parents, friends, brothers & sisters that say “Do what I say but don’t do as I do”… that won’t work, that doesn’t yield results. That is called Hypocrisy, as the child grows he will imitate the same attitude.
If we want our children to love God with all their heart, mind and soul.. we have to first love God with all our heart, mind and soul.
I know of Christian parents who encourage their children to attend Sunday schools so that their hearts are moulded in godly ways but they won’t attend church meeting and community gathering. That doesn’t work my brothers & sisters. We have be an example first.
Yes, our children will hear what we say, but you know what? They will do what we do. Just talking is not enough.
To model godliness to one another is a spiritual principle as Paul says in 1 Cor 11:1 “Follow me as I follow the example of Christ”
But what do we model?
We don’t model a superficial perfection to our children when we are imperfect in nature because of the indwelling sin in our flesh. Rather, out of all the aspects of life, we model to our children the one that should stand out is our lifestyle of continual repentance and faith in God.
It’s ok to expose our imperfect nature to them, that’s the truth. But let them also see our repentant heart in prayer and our trust in Him to help change us through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Let them see and experience the long term transforming power of the Gospel in our life. Let them learn that we all need His grace to sustain and be fruitful in this sinful and broken world. Let them grow learning that Jesus should be the ultimate goal of all our lives.
As I conclude, don’t forget the two words. TALK & WALK. That’s the only way to do this right.