The Importance of Teaching Your Children About Loving God
“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the
Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land
which you are crossing over to possess,
2 that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments
which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life,
and that your days may be prolonged.
3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you,
and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you
—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you
sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down,
and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:1-7)
These verses in Deuteronomy are a call to obedience for God’s glory. They are evidence of our love for God through the continuation of faith in the Lord from generation to generation.
The Lord commanded Moses to teach the people to fear (respect) the Lord their God by the commands that He was giving them, so that they may enjoy long life. They were to be careful and obey, so that things would go well with them.
These Old Testament principles and warnings, are given for us today as examples and for our instruction “for everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
In Deuteronomy, Verses 3 and 4 we see that the foundation for obedience begins with listening and even though these verses are addressed to the nation of Israel, they are particularly addressed to parents—especially to fathers and grandfathers because of their leadership role according to Scripture, and because of the responsibility of parents in the continuation of faith in their children.
The most important thing fathers can do for themselves and their family is to make hearing the
Word of God the greatest
priorities of their life and the lives of their children. Children must learn the importance of hearing and knowing the Word of God because it is critical to their spiritual growth and walk with God as it is for us.
The purpose of hearing the Word is to know the Lord intimately and personally, to understand the truths of Scripture, so that they become the means and guide to a personal relationship with the Lord. We need to understand “that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). We need to live by God’s Word that we might personally know God and put our trust in Him.
We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge about God, or by how many verses we can recite by memory, not by our gifts or talents or ministry, but by how we pray, by how we commune with the Lord in His Word, by what goes on in our hearts, and by our level of obedience to what we know.
“Hear” in verse 4 includes the idea of “to hear and obey.” The point is that we really have not heard unless we are following through with obedience and acting on the precepts of Scripture. We must act in accord with Scripture from the heart, from an intimate understanding and relationship with God or we have not truly heard.
Knowledge that is without obedience is only partial knowledge, because it is knowledge without understanding. It constitutes information without spiritual understanding and discernment.
To truly know the Lord is to desire to obey and to change, otherwise, we have merely had an encounter with ourselves religiously and emotionally.
Parents who refuse to obey God are teaching their children disobedience. The clearest and loudest words our children ever hear are those of our own example. If we are critical, they will learn to be critical. Children whose parents find all kinds of excuses to skip church will find it easy to do the same. Kids of parents that are not involved and concerned for others will most likely also be indifferent to the needs around them.
As we continue on to verse 5 and 6 we read that we are to love God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” We are to love the Lord totally, “with all our heart,” and to give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly.
The secret to loving the Lord is to know Him. And the secret to knowing Him is Bible study and prayer. If we do not love the Lord and make Him the supreme priority of our lives, the chances are very high that neither will our children. And, only our love for the Lord will cause us to make the training of our children a priority in our lives. Otherwise, we will tend to neglect them for our own pleasures, or business, or other personal pursuits.
We need to teach and model the Word as we read in verses 7: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. This is so important that Moses also mentions this in Deuteronomy 4:9.
Diligently means to obey God’s command by teaching the Scriptures consistently. It must be clear and precise, not in vague generalities and it must be taught all the time. The secret to learning is repetition and it is to be done when we sit, walk, lie down, and rise up. In other words, we are to look for teaching opportunities by word and by example through the everyday activities of life.
What our children learn in church is important, but we can’t rely on this alone. This passage is speaking to parents, not the church. Training is first and foremost the responsibility of the parents as the Bible teaches: “And you, fathers . . . bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” – (Ephesians 6:4). Again, this stresses modeling. What one says is rarely as influential as what one does.
When parents listen, obey and love the Lord, they provide a model for children which reinforce what is being said in the home. Therefore, the key to teaching our children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses. If we want our children to follow God, we must make God a part of our everyday experiences. We must teach our children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)