“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1
Obviously, I don’t believe that there are children out there reading this blog. However, as Christian parents who are raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, we try to infuse their understanding with scripture.
There have been many times that my children do not want to and have not obeyed me. And when they receive the consequence, their faces are often downcast like Cain’s was in Genesis when he didn’t bring an offering in the right way. They pout and cross their arms, more angry that they are in trouble for their wrongdoing than upset with themselves for having done wrong. There is no repentance in them in these moments.
But I have long felt led to mete out consequences with an explanation. Discipline with the scriptural-behind-the-scenes. I want my children to know that Mama loves them and that God loves them. And because of this, God has placed my husband and I as their spiritual guardians until which time they are able to choose for themselves. But also because of this, God expects them as the children to obey. And not just saying and doing something because that’s what they’ve been told, but Ephesians says obey in the Lord. The Hebrew here could also be translated obey as to the Lord.
We have a saying in our house when it comes to obedience. Quickly and cheerfully. If God asked us to do something, or if we desired to do something for someone we love, we would do so quickly and cheerfully. So obeying Mama and Papa, to God’s glory and honor, should be done the same way.
That does not mean that we will never be wrong. It does not mean that it will always be fair or fun. But if our children learn to obey us quickly and cheerfully now, while they are young, then this same habit and the emotion it carries, will follow with them into their college and career, into their own marriage and family, and for the rest of their lives when the only one that they will need to obey is God.
Mama and Papa? We’re just practice, we’re just getting them warmed up for the real deal.
“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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:7-9
As an educator, this scripture really hits home for parents passing on the truth of God, as A.W. Tozer puts it, “undimmed and undiminished.” In verse 7, we’re commanded to impress God’s commands on our children, and then God uses the remainder of this passage to let us know how we can make that happen.
In undergrad, I read plenty of studies about the merits of teachable moments, active engagement, time on task and enriched educational environments. Since God created our brains and understands how we each learn best, it’s no wonder that He prescribed research sound educational techniques for families long before the first schools were ever founded and even longer before even one research study was done on the subject.
Teachable moments are those times when a we seize the natural interest/curiosity of a child as it blooms in front of us and make the most of the opportunity to infuse them with as much understanding as they can get at that time. When God herein basically tells parents to keep His Word activated throughout the day, the natural result of this is to saturate our children with the knowledge of the Holy in response to their inquiry as life presents them with questions and challenges.
Active engagement means that the student is the one who is directing the investigation and time on task means that it is the student who is actively processing the material. What better way for this to occur than when the family’s daily discourse centers around God’s Word–sitting and walking all day from getting up to going to bed?
Enriched environment means that a history class will have visuals and other materials that keep the whole room focused on the subject of history–specifically the points of history being studied in the current unit. And the same goes for math, health, science, world language, et al. God actually commands His people to take it a step further here. Yes, post them all over your home and even on the landscaping around your home, but also wear them on your body–jewelry, t-shirts, hats…the more we can infuse our lives with the Word of God, the better we will remember it.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” Deuteronomy 6:6
While we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts [Deuteronomy 6:5] , we are also to hide His Word in [Psalm 119:11] and to keep His commands on our hearts as well. Why our hearts?
According to scripture, the whole heart is comprised of intellect [Genesis 6:5-6; Psalms 19:14, et al], will [Proverbs 16:19 and 19:21, et al], and emotion [1 Samuel 2:1, Jeremiah 4:19, et al]. It is the figurative core of our physical being, not the literal muscle called the heart. It is the command center for how and what we think, choose and feel. In essence, it is the fabric of who we are as individuals.
We love God with all our hearts so that we will we choose to lovingly obey Him. In obedience, we hide His Word in our hearts so that we will not sin against Him, and that also means that we will not sin against fellow man. But that scripture wasn’t yet penned when the law was given a second time in Deuteronomy. David was not even a twinkle in his mother’s eye when God instructed His Israelites in how to pass faith onto their children.
And the thing is, faith is not genetic, it’s contagious. But only a genuine, living faith is contagious, not a soured or dead faith. God tells the Israelites to plant His commands in their own hearts for two reasons; 1) so that they personally will live right before Him, and 2) so that their children will see their genuine, living faith, their relationship with the one true God, and learn to love and trust Him because of it.
Have you given your whole heart to God? Do you continue to hide His Word in your intellect, will and emotion? Have you planted God’s commands in the soil of your heart so that they spring to life before your children’s eyes? Do your children see genuine, living faith emanating from the very center of your being in all things?