Summary: Deals with God’s call for parents to faithfully instruct their children in the ways of the Lord through their words and deeds.
Teach Your Children
I. We Teach Our Children About God Through Our Words
A. The historical situation
B. Our present situation
II. We Teach Our Children About God Through Our Lives
A. Actions do speak louder than words
B. Our orthodoxy should impact our orthopraxy
C. Our children are watching
Please turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6:1-9.
The text we just read is perhaps the best-known portion of the OT among those of the Jewish faith. Jews commonly refer to verses 4-9 as the Shema, which means, “hear,” the first word in this section. The Shema is the Jewish creed that opens synagogue worship and is recited twice a day by devout Jews. It is a text that is in the forefront of their minds. Because of its constant reinforcement, it has had a profound affect upon Judaism. I believe that the title Shema or Hear is an appropriate injunction for us this morning, especially for those of us who are parents.
I have a very simple message to deliver to you from this passage of scripture. I won’t be bringing you any great new insights or hidden nuances. Rather the purpose of this message is to serve as a reminder of some fundamental truths that we often times neglect. I petition you to “Hear” once again what has been plainly said to you before.
I want to give you the outline of this sermon at the beginning. There are only two main points, so I encourage you to go ahead and jot them down. Then I want you to take that piece of paper and put it in a place where you will see it often—perhaps on your refrigerator or a mirror—so that it can serve as a reminder. The first point is, we teach our children about God through our words. The second point is, we teach our children about God through our lives.
It is my observation that when it comes to the matter of instructing our children, most parents have a tendency to limit themselves to and/or gravitate toward only one method of teaching. We generally lean toward teaching them through either words or modeling. Rarely do we intentionally set out to bring these two methods of instruction together to bear upon the lives of our children in a consistent manner.
What the Bible presents to us is that we must try to incorporate a balanced diet of instruction. We must be deliberate and spend time teaching our children the essential truths concerning God and His word, AND we must be careful that those truths are lived out through our lives. In this scripture, we are called as parents to teach our children about God through our words and deeds.
Before we take a look at these two points, I’d like to make one brief aside. You will quickly notice that most of the illustrations that I use this morning focus on fathers. I have done this intentionally for three reasons. The first reason is simply because this is Father’s Day. The second reason is because I believe that the Bible places a special burden of responsibility upon fathers with regard to leading their families into a deeper walk with God. The third reason is because I observe that to a greater or lesser degree fathers, and I include myself in this, have “dropped the ball” and shifted the responsibility on to the mothers. I am convinced that child-rearing is the job of both parents and by using these father-oriented illustrations I hope to call the fathers in our congregation back to their role of raising their children in partnership with the mothers.
With that in mind, let’s look at what this passage has to say.
We Teach Our Children About God Through Our Words
The first reminder this passage confronts us with is that we teach our children about God through our words.
The Historical Situation
Let me give you a little background information concerning the occasion in which these commands were first given. These instructions were given to the Israelites under the leadership of Moses on what we might refer to as the eve of their entrance into the Promised Land. Moses had led the people through the wilderness for 40 years. The disbelieving generation that did not seize the land when they first approached it had passed away. Moses is speaking to their children and grandchildren—those who had not witnessed firsthand God’s deliverance from Egypt. They are just about to enter into the Promised Land, so Moses gives the people these solemn instructions.
There is a sense of urgency in Moses’ voice. He is coming to the end of his ministry as the leader of the people and will soon pass the baton on to Joshua who will have the responsibility of leading the people to the attainment of God’s promises. Moses gives these words in preparation for the many changes that are about to take place in their lives. His foremost concern is for their spiritual welfare. He knew that the quality of their spiritual and physical well-being was directly related to their obedience to God.