What is it that we want our children to know? At the end of the day what do we want for our kids? To know how to do calculus? To know how to say please and thank you? To know what success feels like? To know that they are loved? To know … ? How would you finish that sentence?
In Deuteronomy 6, God tells the Israelites to teach their children and their grandchildren to keep His commandments. Of all the things that their children and their children’s children could know the one that counts is knowing and keeping God’s commandments because that is how they would continue to enjoy long life. (Deut 6:1-2)
It is important to see here that keeping God’s commandments is part of living the joyful long life and not the means to the end of living long in the land. In fact, the commands were part of what it meant for the Israelites to live as saved people, freed from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. (Deut 6:20-23) If and when their children would ask why we keep these commands it was because they were saved not because they need to be saved. In other words, their obedience/righteousness is driven by God’s act of salvation/grace.
So Moses gives the Israelites some really practical tips to how to teach the next generation which we can also learn a lot from.
1. God’s law needs to be on your hearts in the first place. (v6)
If God’s commandments are not on your hearts, that is you don’t know and love them, then there is no way you can pass them on. So open yourself up to God’s law. Learn, practice and pray it in community with other Christians. Meet with other Christians and begin to love it
2. God’s law is to be impressed on your children. (v7)
It is to be part of everyday life not something relegated to Sunday mornings at Sunday School or Bible Study. Our children are to see life through the lens of God’s goodness and grace. Moses says you have to talk about God’s laws. So make sure you are spending time with your children and grandchildren and actually talking with them. Talk with them, not at them. Help them to see the value of God’s law. Show them how impressive it is. Be present and be intentional with the time spent with your children.
3. God’s law should be front and centre in our lives. (v8)
Writing them down and putting them in significant places serves as ever present reminders of God. It helps us to not forget God. To know clearly that the life we live and enjoy is truly because of God. In our fast paced and godless world it is too easy for us and our children to miss what God has and is doing in our lives.
If grace driven righteousness (biblical obedience to God’s law) was the priority for us and our children and our children’s children, how would that change the way we relate to one another? For one thing we wouldn’t be so focused on pursuing a life of good grades but enjoying a life of a good God filled with His grace.