|Vol. 13 No. 2 February 2011||
Now this is the commandment, and these arethe statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it,that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you — a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord isone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)
The above passage emphasizes the necessity of teaching our children the laws of God. Moses instructed the Israelites to learn the laws of God before conquering the Promised Land and to teach those same laws to their children and grandchildren. He further admonished them to teach the children when they walk, when they sit to rest, when they go to bed and when they get up in the morning, thus to use every opportunity to teach their children.
This principle is still applicable today. Just as Moses instructed the Israelites to ground their children in the knowledge of God’s laws, we must firmly plant in our children the knowledge of God’s laws applicable to modern mankind. Ephesians 6:4 states, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Fathers have the God-given task of not only teaching God’s commandments to their children, but the responsibility of instructing them how to use this knowledge. Training our children must be more than teaching them to recite Bible verses and retelling Bible events. We must instill in them the ability to study the Scriptures for themselves and not just repeat what they have been told, to discern right from wrong, and most importantly to make God’s Word a living part of their individual lives. When we do this, our children should be well on their way to securing their hearts to God! Many of us know this; however, the difficult part is putting it into practice.
Every parent needs to remember the biblical account of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2. She earnestly prayed to God for a son and promised that if God fulfilled her request that she would dedicate him to the Lord. God answered Hannah’s prayer, and she kept her promise. As soon as she weaned Samuel, she left him in the hands of Eli, the high priest, so that he could serve God in the Temple. Many expectant parents pray to God that their child will be healthy, but we should also pray that we will rear them to accept and live by God’s commands. God does not want us to leave our children in the Temple to serve Him as Hannah did with young Samuel, yet we need to begin from birth to instruct them in God’s Word, to live by it and to always place God first in their lives. We should continue to pray throughout the life of our children for God’s help in training and that God will watch over them. Our children need to know that we remember them daily in our prayers.
As our children mature, we must teach them that God is first, and all other aspects of life must take second place (Matthew 10:36; 22:37-38; Luke 14:26-27; Philippians 3:7-9). This means that Bible lessons come before homework and worship, and Bible class attendance precedes school activities (band, sports, field trips, etc.), and church activities take priority over parties and get-togethers with friends. We should teach our children to choose their friends carefully, emphasizing that they should spend the majority of their time with those who will help them get to heaven, not tempt them to turn away from God. In order for this to happen, as parents, we must provide ample fun filled activities for our children and their God focused friends. All this should begin at a very young age and must continue throughout their teen years.
We need to instruct our children to serve God from preschool through adulthood. All children want to please and be recognized for their accomplishments. Encourage your little ones to help bake and take cookies to the shut-ins. Most young children love to draw and color, so use their creative minds for cards for the sick, shut-ins and the lonely. Older children can help the elderly with their yard work (especially after a storm) and household chores.
We must never forget to encourage our children to reach out to the lost with the Gospel of Christ. Parents should be willing to fill their cars with the acquaintances of their children, providing these young minds with opportunities to hear messages from God’s Word at Bible class, VBS, Gospel meetings, church camps and youthful activities sponsored by local congregations. Children are willing and able to knock doors, inviting families to worship services or to leave a flyer with information about the church or to announce an upcoming event; they only need help and encouragement from adults.
Throughout the life of a child, parents should seize every opportunity to teach God’s Word. Daily activities provide ample examples of teaching about the great Creator and learning a Christ-like attitude as we interact with others. Traveling from point A to point B can be time used to learn memory verses and Bible facts. We should take time each day for Bible reading and devotionals with our children. We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that the two to three hours per week of Bible instruction in Bible classes and worship services will adequately ground our children in God’s Holy Word!
These instructions are worthless when we fail to teach by example. We cannot live by the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our children must see us putting God first in our lives. Christian living and Christian service must be seen as top priority, before our jobs, families and pleasurable activities. Our children should see a Christ-like attitude from us as we interact with others; they should see us reaching out to the lost souls of this world; they should hear us pray for them and others; and they should see us study our Bibles in preparation for Bible class and to attain personal knowledge.
As a parent of three grown children, I can look back and see areas of improvement I would make if I had the opportunity to start over in rearing my children. I am sure many of you could say the same. When our grown children leave the church or are not as strong as they ought to be, often we can console ourselves with the knowledge that we did the best we knew how at the time, and each individual has the responsibility to save himself. My children cannot blame me for their sins and weaknesses, nor can I blame my parents for my failures.
How can we secure our children’s hearts for the Lord? By living a godly life in accordance with God’s will and teaching our children to love and obey God.