Teach Them When You Sit

I love the book of Deuteronomy. Not merely for its detail but for the concept behind the book. Deuteronomy is essentially one big study hall. Moses is the teacher and the children of Israel are the students. The wilderness east of the Jordan River is their classroom. And there they assemble to review God’s requirement of them before conquering the Promised Land.

It had taken 40 years and two generations to get to this place. All the adults who had experienced the Exodus – except for Joshua and Caleb – were dead. Their children, determined to pass the test that their parents had failed, sat on the verge of an expectant promise to listen, to learn and to choose obedience over disobedience – life over death. Their teacher Moses, ever steadfast and having only a few weeks to live, is exhaustive in his review and admonition

It is within this context that he gives the following instruction. I can almost hear him bellow: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).

In others words, don't let your godly instruction be sporadic or solely at religiously appointed times. Rather teach your children when you do something as simple as sitting. Teach them when you walk. Teach them when you lie down. Teach them when you rise up. In short, commit to the constant training of your children within the normalcy of the everyday. Moses gives the impression of a natural process. So natural, in fact, that daily experiences become the inspiration for easy conversations about God and His salvation.

This is a challenge! I say so for this reason: in order for us to naturally, constantly and sincerely train our children in the Lord, God would have to be naturally, constantly and sincerely treasured in our hearts. You speak easily about the things that you love. In the same way, God becomes a natural conversation at any given time or routine when He is the central joy of your heart.

The thrust of Deuteronomy 6:6-8 then isn't simply to teach your children but rather to love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Interestingly enough, these are the very words that precede the commandment (see Deuteronomy 6:5)! 

A Christian parent who desires to train children in godliness must first have a desire to grow in their own godliness. There must be a commitment to sanctification and a delight for the LORD apart from your instruction and concern for your children. You must love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

It is this love that naturally overflows into your everyday life with your children. Your central commitment and prayer then as a parent dedicated to shaping godly offspring is for your own shaping. May God's grace enable us to strive toward discipleship and faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ – within the routine of our everyday.

* Originally published on October 17, 2012 - Archives Re-Post