Deuteronomy 6 records, among other things, some important commandments to parents in raising children. These sacred verses are not the “how to’s” of perfect parenting as much as they are a charges from a Father committed to preserving the Word of God as central to the identity of His people. Moses writes:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6.4-9)
As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children God’s Word. This passage in Deuteronomy shows us that teaching doesn’t necessarily mean holding a family Bible study every evening. In addition to intentional times of direct instruction, God expects our homes, our very lives, to be saturated with the Word of God always. Scripture should flow intentionally, but naturally, throughout our daily thoughts, conversations, and activities. Inside our home we should have Scripture posted on the walls and outside of the home we should have it tattooed on our arms (or at least our mouths), in a way for our world to see.
Within this Scripture-rich environment and existence, there are and should be times of organized teaching. We must read our children Scripture, help them hide it in their hearts, and instruct them in the ways of God beginning with the gospel. Admittedly, though I am a pastor, my bride is better at this than me. Her commitment to the faithful teaching our children is something I am both grateful for and often convicted by. She is often the first to pray, the first to bring out Scripture memory cards, and the first to take advantage of those teachable moments that most men are clueless to (perhaps it is just me). My marriage and parenting are sanctification machines! But that is not what this blog is about.
This blog is about the sanctification that takes place AFTER you actually teach your children Scripture (I wonder if this is why most parents avoid it–to avoid hypocrisy). The other day, my bride was taking my oldest son through the book of Jonah. The story of Jonah is pretty simple. Jonah is a prophet who runs from God when he tells him to go and preach to a city full of pagans. He boards a ship and God follows him. God sends a storm and the men throw Jonah overboard after he reports how he ran from God. A whale swallows Jonah then throws him up three days later on the pagan city of Nineveh God told him to go to in the beginning. Smelly, but resolved to obey, Jonah walks through the city and tells them everyone to repent of God will kill them. They do. And Jonah is angry that God shows them grace, going so far as to justify his attempt to run away because he knew God was gracious. Nice.
Despondent and , Jonah exits the city and finds a comfortable place sit in hopes of watching the fireworks of God’s wrath. God causes a plant to rise up and give him shade and it makes him glad. The next day, God raises up a worm to eat the plant and it makes him mad. This is the second time Jonah gets angry. And God, having had enough, says to him, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” Jonah, forgetting who he is talking to, says, “Yes. I do”, to which God responds by telling him he has no right to get angry–ever. This is the passage that my bride read to my oldest son. My oldest son is easily excited these days, meaning, he get angry. So my bride took the opportunity to teach him about the perfect patience God shows him, the grace that God demonstrated through the cross, the mercy God shows him for not “smiting” him whenever he sins. My son listened and learned.
But he learned all too well. The next day, my bride found herself irritated by something. The actual cause of the anger escapes me, but most likely it was one of those things that our children regularly are expected but forget to do. As it is my brides last month of pregnancy, it is a little harder for her to hold in her emotions. She got angry. She didn’t yell, or scream, or throw anything…but she was angry. Then my boy, in calm and measured words, having learned all that his mom taught him, said:
“Mom, I don’t ask this to be rude or disrespectful. But…do you do well to be angry right now?”
Oh, the joy of sanctification, oh the danger of teaching your kid’s God’s Word! I realize that my children will always be my children, and I will always be their father. But I look forward to the day when my children become my brothers and my sisters, confident and loving enough to bring the Word of God to bear on my life.