4 must-do parenting principles from Deuteronomy 6
Written by Brian Jennings, Posted in Your Family
If I had to pick one chapter in the Bible to beg parents to read, in order to expose them to God’s commands and practical help in spiritually leading their family, it would be Deuteronomy 6. God gives direct, practical mandates, “So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live” (Dt. 6:2).
If you want to spiritually lead children (your own or the ones God puts in your path), here are 4 must-do parenting principles from the chapter:
I. Love God with every fiber of your being (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
We can’t set an example by faking a love for God. Kids will see through it.
What do they see in you? Do they see faith? Trust? Love? Not a little bit, but fully? Wholeheartedly?
Ultimately, it’s a matter of people loving God with heart, soul and strength.
The Hebrew understanding of “heart” was more than just emotion. It was the center of the will – that thing that motivates your every move. So “heart” included “thought.” That’s why when the Gospels of Mark and Luke quote Deuteronomy, they add “mind.”
When parents withhold their full devotion to God, they ought expect their kids to do the same.
II. Teach them every chance you get (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
I love that God answers our question before it can escape our lips: “When am I supposed to teach my kids about you?” God’s answer: “All the time!”
We need to teach when opportunities present themselves randomly. We also need structured times. But we are always intentional. We teach them when they wake up, on the way to school, while eating dinner, and before they go to bed. Life becomes a lesson.
Parents have more time and influence with their kids than any other person or organization. It’s not even close. (See the principle of the rope.) If you think, “I just don’t have any time. I’m maxed out,” priority one in your life is to figure out the quickest, wisest plan to free up some time. Your kids need you, and they need you to teach them with your words and actions.
III. Be aware of false gods (Deuteronomy 6:13-14)
“Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you;”
There are many other gods (things we can worship – money, sports, comfort…).
One of the most dangerous false teachings in our culture is that God’s biggest hope is for you to be happy/successful/victorious. America worship security and comfort. We even hear preachers say such things.
But what is God’s greatest hope? God’s greatest hope os for the world to come to Him, for people to trust Him more, and for people who will worship and trust Him with all of their hearts. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer on this earth. He hurts along with us when we do. And one day, our suffering will be eliminated, and life will be restored to how it is to be – better than we can imagine. But our coziness is not his greatest desire for us now.
If someone believes that our health and wealth are God’s plan for us now, what happens when something goes wrong? Well, they change their view (and this could lead them to a good view, or it could lead them to deciding that God must not be out there, or that they aren’t really loved by God).
Outside of God’s plans, our greatest dreams are phony.
IV. Prepare to answer (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)
“In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders-great and terrible-on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
Maybe you are thinking, “I don’t have all the answers.” Yes, me too. We have 2 choices: Learn from God today and tomorrow, little by little. Or don’t.
What choice will you make?
Even if you learn, you’ll still get stumped by your inquisitive kids sometimes. That’s OK. Don’t sweat it. It’s OK to say, “I’m not sure; let’s try to find out together.”
I love that God not only gives us commands, He gives us help in carrying out those commands. And He does all of this out of His infinite love for us.
Blessings to you as you lead your family.
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Thank you again for helping teach me to trust Christ is all things. It has been a very difficult year for our family. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, demoted in my position at work so we moved back to Mississippi, and this summer my middle daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.
I cannot say that I am not upset, but angry with God, no. He is my creator, how can I be upset? After all it was not his plan for us to suffer, that is Satan’s.
But this morning I had to take my son a binder he had forgotten to school, and his office administrator that I go to church with stopped me. She pulled out a letter he had written that she had copied. In it he talks about how one of his friends asking why God hated him so much. The friend’s parents were going through a divorce and he had lost one of his best friends. My son told him God didn’t hate him, but Satan hated him and went on to witness to the friend. He is 10 and probably handled it better than I could have!
Sometimes as parents we get concerned that it isn’t enough…this assured me they do listen and they are getting it.
Your sister in Christ,
Thank you so much for sharing this story. Wow.
Your son must really love Jesus. It’s one thing to “get it,” but it’s quite another to “live it.”