When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of the Law they had been given forty years earlier. He told them to write it on their hearts and teach it “diligently” to their children. He told them to talk of God’s commandments with their children when they sat in their house, when they walked along the road, when they lay down, and when they rose up (Deuteronomy 6:7). It was their responsibility to make sure every generation knew what it meant to be God’s covenant people. Do parents today have any less responsibility?
The Christian Home
Christian parents have a responsibility to do what Israelite parents were supposed to do. We must “diligently” teach our children what it means to be God’s covenant people. We must “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Our homes should be places of non-stop discussion about God and His word. Our homes should be places that are saturated with prayer and Scripture. Our homes should be places where parents and children are together trying to work out what it really looks like to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Thoughts about loving your enemies, being salt and light in the world, who God is and what He expects, and the significance of the cross should be continual discussions in our homes. Theology should be far more commonplace than sports, test scores, band, or what movies are coming out.
How Are We Doing?
I took a quick survey on this issue yesterday. The vast majority of the respondents said they prayed with their families before meals; which is GREAT! But, sadly, I also found:
- 49% said their families “seldom” or “never” pray together (other than before a meal).
- 53% said they “seldom” or “never” read the Bible together as a family.
How are we going to bring our children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” how are we going to teach them what it means to be God’s covenant people, if we’re not praying and reading the Bible together regularly?
We have to get better at this. And by the way, I truly mean “we.” I have to confess that while my family does sit down every night for a family devotional, many nights I have failed to carve out enough time for anything but prayers. That’s something that is going to change in our home. We are going to start making more time to read and discuss the Bible every day.
Family Devotional Time
I realize, for many of you, this may be new territory. You may have small children and wonder how you can possibly keep them still long enough to read even one verse. Or you may have teenagers and wonder how they will react if you suddenly announce, “We’re going to start having a family Bible study and a time of prayer every day.”
If you’re apprehensive about it, start with one small step. If you’re not praying together every night, start doing that. Just gather up and have a prayer or take turns and let everyone say a prayer. If you’re already doing that, then add some Bible reading. You don’t have to read a whole chapter; just read an appropriate amount for your family. Later you can add a discussion of the Bible reading. And after you conquer all that, you might start singing a few songs together.
You can do all kinds of creative things with your family devotional times. My boys like to use that time to practice leading singing or “preaching” a short lesson. We’ve found great Bible storybooks to read. We’ve watched videos about biblical stories, places, and themes. You could even do a coloring page or a craft and then give the finished project to an older member from church.
Be creative. Use your imagination. But the important thing is, just start. Do something. Something is better than nothing.
The Bottom Line
The Israelites failed to diligently teach their children. Shortly after going into the Promised Land, they forgot the covenant they had with God and every man did what was right in his own eyes.
We are receiving something far better than land; we are receiving the kingdom of God. We must do everything within our power to bring our children into the kingdom of God. We must teach them who God is, what He has done for us, and what it means to walk with Him in faithful obedience. If we don’t teach them, who will?
I love you and God loves you,