- Monday, April 09, 2001
"These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
- Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 5-7
"You, your children and their children"-with these words in the second verse, Moses gave expression to the truth that God gave His commandments not merely to the individual or to a single generation, but to all people throughout history. Each one who received the commandments of God was to strive not only to keep them himself but to also hold himself responsible for their maintenance among his children. "These commandments that I give you today ... impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Further down, in verses 20 and 21, is brought out the responsibility of expounding to the children the basis for the wondrous relationship in which God's people stood to Him. They had been favored with the divine Law, even the mercy and faithfulness of God who had redeemed them from the land of Egypt. All this concentrated in the one important and blessed truth that the fear and faith of God must be the basis for a family's beliefs. The greatest means for maintaining and extending this fear and faith of God among His people is the consistent performance of parental duty that His service and blessing might descend from son to son.
Parental instruction must come from the heart. We all know how little is learned from a spiritless or uninterested teacher. It is only the heart that gains the heart, the loving warmth of care and affection that can awaken corresponding emotions in the pupil. God would take all the influence of parental love to gain access for His words and will into the minds and hearts of the children of His people. He says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and these commandments ... are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children."
How easy and blessed the work, so often sighed over, if not neglected completely, to those who listen to God's guidance. As is your duty, love the Lord your God with all your heart. If you love Him, love His words; let them live in your heart, have a place in your affections. And if the heart is filled with God's love and God's words, how easy it will be to have them in your mouth, too, and to teach them to your children. Let holy love to God and His words mingle with your fond and tender love to your little ones, and it will be a joyous work to win the beloved on earth to the beloved Father in heaven.
When the work of instructing children threatens to become a burden or a wearisome task, you may be sure it is a sign of something wrong within: love toward God is waning or delight in His Word is fading. As you seek for fresh enthusiasm to perform your work hopefully and joyfully, you only have to turn to the words that reveal the secret of a godly education. There is an unspeakable blessing in the wisdom that has so inseparably connected the heart's secret love with the mouth's spoken words: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and these commandments ... are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children." The divinely appointed ministry and means for the salvation of our children is parental love elevated and strengthened by the love of God, guided and inspired by His own Holy Word.
Parental instruction must be diligent and serious. But no cold declaration of God's will, no mere intellectual knowledge will be adequate. The godly parent must consider how he can best access the heart of his particular child, how he can best gain both the child's understanding and affections, looking for the best opportunities for keeping his interest, and through careful preparation by prayer and study present God's love and redemption in words the child can grasp and understand. He strives to make his own life an attractive example of what he has taught. There is nothing that drives home the word of instruction as powerfully as a consistent and holy life. Above all, the parent seeks to teach by waiting for the Holy Spirit, who alone can make the Word as sharp as a two-edged sword. With His aid the parent may experience the truth of Ecclesiastes 12:11: "The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails-given by one Shepherd." God's promise is sure: from earnest, painstaking, and prayerful effort the blessing of the Spirit will not be withheld.
And to this end the parental instruction must be persevering and continuous: "Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." The entrance of divine truth into the mind and heart, the formation of habits and the training of character-these are not attained by sudden and isolated efforts, but by regular and unceasing repetition. This is the law of all growth in nature, and God uses the same law in the kingdom of grace.
This is the principle that is so beautifully applied by Moses to parental duty. The instruction he imposed was not to be by means of set times and stated formal lectures; the whole life with all its duties was to be interwoven with the lessons of God's presence and service. With a heart full of God's love and God's Word, the ordinary occupations of daily life were not to be hindrances but helps in leading young hearts to God.
The children were taught that faith and devotion were not matters that could be accomplished in one day, in the moments of morning or evening prayers, but by a continual and spontaneous speaking out of the heart, proving that God's presence and love were a reality and a delight. Sitting in the home or walking by the way, now in quiet rest, now in the labors and duties of the day, with the Bible or with books of God's glory in nature at hand - all equally afforded opportunity for recognizing the goodness of the ever-present One. The whole day and the whole life was occasion for uninterrupted fellowship with the Holy One and for pointing the little ones to the Father in heaven. And lest the objection should be made that all the speaking would tire and alienate - an objection often made against mere talk while heart and life deny the reality - we point once more to the source and secret of all: loving the Lord your God with all your heart. And keeping His words in your heart, that you may teach them to your children. May each of you receive wisdom from on high and be guided by divine love to know when and how to speak - how to influence your children's hearts with the flame of your own zeal, finding a willing and loving ear and not a weary one.
Prayer of Consecration
O Lord, I thank you for each new reminder of the value that my relation to my children has in your sight, and of your call to me as a parent to carry out your purposes. May each thought of loving and serving you be connected with your Word, "You and your children ..."; and may each act of faith claim for my child all I seek for myself.
Blessed God, give me wisdom and grace to be a teacher of my children as you would have me be. You have chosen no other to take a parent's place; you have appointed him the first and best teacher. Lord, teach me, with all parents, to learn the lessons that you see we need to fit us for our work.
Fill our hearts with your love and your Word. Love knows no sacrifice, counts nothing a burden; love does not rest until it has triumphed. Oh, fill us with your love; shed it abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And fill us with your Word, that teaching our children will be the spontaneous overflow of our hearts. Make us diligent and wise to do our work well. Sharpen your words to go deep into our children's hearts. And make us to persevere each day, walking in your love and presence. Make our whole life an influence, educating our children for you.
Father, help us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Raising Your Child to Love God
Copyright 1975, 2001, Bethany House Publishers
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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