As much as God has the joy of creating human beings in His image, God has given us the joy of having people being born in ‘our image’ – our ‘mini-mes’ per se. Of all relationships on this earth, only parents can understand that kind of joy. So, it is an immense privilege.
However, at the same time, it also comes with a huge responsibility, the solemn duty of parenting. In Deuteronomy, just before Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses reminded the people again who they are as a nation (or rather whose they are) and what they are to do with this new identity. One of their duties in the new land is to pass on God’s commandment to the next generations so that the worship of the One True God will continue. As parents, Deuteronomy chapter 6 is worth your time reading and meditating. But here, please allow me to outline just three points.
FIRST, the What of Parenting
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children …
This is what parenting is all about – to teach your children to love the LORD your (and their) God. Yes, you want your children to know their math, to be able to play music, to be kind to their siblings, to respect you, to win that competition, and to not pick their nose or fart when they are at Sunday School. Yes, they are all good. But above all, if they do all that but they do not love the LORD, then your parenting will yield nothing. Remember, your job is not to make them good. Your job is to teach them to love and desire God above all. Everything else will somehow fall into place.
SECOND, the HOW of Parenting
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
I am a big believer of a regular family devotion. However, we must not rely solely on 15 to 30 minutes a day to teach our children to love God. We must seize any ‘teachable moments’ as the day goes. As you spend quality and quantity time with each of your children, take time to help them process whatever happens in their life through the lens of the Bible. Let them know that God is real in all of their activities, not just in they praying or in their bible reading. Above all, your children must be able to observe that loving God is always at the center in every aspect of your life.
THIRD, the WHY of Parenting
20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand…. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always…
Lastly, when we teach our children God’s commandments, we must ultimately tell them the ‘Why.’ For Moses and his generation, the ‘Why’ is because God has brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. But for us, the ‘Why’ is because God has delivered us out of the bondage of sin and death through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Ultimately, we want our children to live a Gospel-Centered life, a life full of love, responsibility, and forgiveness because of what Jesus has done on the cross for them.
So, parents, seize all opportunities to teach your children to love God and to point them to Christ … and all shall be well for you. May God help us all.