You love a good “how to” article, don’t you Mom and Dad? You really want to know how to do this Christian parenting thing. In your honest moments, like all of us, you would confess feelings of inadequacy, fears, worries, and even failures. If parenting as a Christ follower was easy, then we would not need Christ. Jesus makes up the difference when we fall short. And God's Word guides us when we don't know where to turn next.
As a Christ following parent you probably know of Deuteronomy 6:4-7. It provides a “how to” model for us. It says, 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up
You heard it in a sermon. You read it in a magazine. You spent some time thinking about it. You considered teachable moments. You live it when you remember it. You may have it memorized. You may be practicing it.
And you may have stopped right there.
Right there in Deuteronomy chapter six, I mean. Be honest. You lose interest right from the whole "binding them on your hands and forehead" part. Interesting fashion accessories those would be. And you are a bit concerned with "writing them on your door-posts and gates" too. I mean, what reputable decorating magazine would recommend that?
So, you stop with verse seven. And that is not a bad place to stop. Not bad at all. If you can love God with all you have got. If you can keep His Word in your heart. If you can pass that sort of honest-to-goodness faith to your kids. Wow! You are doing great! So, what's the fuss?
Well, no fuss. Just a call to look further.
You have the “how to” above. How about a model for the “what to”?
Practicing good biblical hermeneutics, we read the context. The chapters and verses before and after the a given passage. In the case of Deuteronomy Six, just as clearly as the “how-to” of teachable moments in verse 4-7, we see a template for the “what-to” in verses 20-25. Let’s take a look:
20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, 23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’
“When your son asks,” states verse 20. Not if. God made us in His image. Creative and inquisitive. Our children ask and experiment to learn. What truths about God should we teach them.
There are four “what to” teach topics in Deuteronomy 6:21-24:
- Experiences with God. Verse 21 teaches that you should be ready to share stories of lives impacted by an intersection with God. Scripture stories. Your own stories. The stories of others you know. We must “always be ready” to speak of the hope within us commands 1 Peter 3:15. These stories should illustrate the greatness of God to meet our needs.
- Judgment of God. Verse 22 shows that God is just and will judge sin. This is essential truth. In order to call Christ our Lord and be saved, we must first recognize our own, personal sinfulness as in Romans 6:23. Sometimes, these are conversations in the midst of administering discipline. More importantly, like Moses in Deuteronomy, these are conversations during the good times to set boundaries as warnings to the consequences of judgment during the rebellion that will come.
- Purposes of God. Verse 23 points to God’s leadership in all circumstances. When our own faith is challenged we must rely upon the sovereignty of God in all of life. Good or bad. Anything that touches our lives has either been caused or allowed to work His good purpose within us we learn throughout Deuteronomy and from Philippians 2:13.
- Obedience to God. Verse 24 is clear that God’s Word is not for our convenience, but our obedience. And that obedience leads to the blessings only God can provide. John 14:21 teaches that our obedience is a love issue. If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem. We must make sure we know God’s Word. And obey it. And teach our children to follow us as we follow the Lord.
And what will be the hallmark of the life following God as these verses teach? Righteousness. A state of right being and living that can only be fully powered by God’s Holy Spirit and can only be fully reward by God’s amazing graciousness. Stories. Boundaries. Sovereignty. Obedience. These four foundational teachings are the “what to” truths we build our children’s lives on. Now stop reading and go parent with these truths in mind, Christ follower.