Parenting is hard. It’s really hard. We live in a day and age that is extremely busy and hectic. Raising kids isn’t as simple as keeping them fed and clothed. It isn’t as simple as putting a roof over a child’s head. Raising kids is financially, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically and mentally challenging. However, our kids are not primarily a challenge; our kids are, primarily, an incredible blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 refers to them as a heritage and reward. God calls us to be good stewards of the blessing and heritage He has given us in how we raise our children.
I intend to write regularly and often on parenting from various Biblical texts and cultural perspectives. This three-part blog series will certainly not resolve all of the challenges parents face today. My prayer though is that we can learn from God’s call in Deuteronomy to encourage and challenge us as we parent our kids. This series is intended to be a reflection and application on one of the most profound parenting passages found in scripture, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)
To start this series, I want to talk about the necessary pre-qualification for God honoring parenting. The Bible, and thus the will of God, is not about mindless obedience to rules. Parenting, according to scripture, is not as simple as a list of, “Do’s and Don’ts.” We see the necessary pre-qualification for us as parents in verses 4-6. In order to be God honoring parents we must first “love the Lord (our) God with all our heart, soul and might.” It is key to remember that when Jesus was asked in the Gospels what the greatest commandment was, He referenced this very text (Matthew 22:36-38, Luke 10:27). God’s greatest desire for our children is that they love Himself. We cannot teach this to our kids, however, if this is not a reality for ourselves. We cannot teach and train our kids in something we do not have ourselves. “Do as I say, not as do,” simply does not cut it. You might be amazed how easily kids can spot a hypocrite.
Parents- your children do not need a nice house, a spot on the best sports team, or a sufficient college fund. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but they are not your child’s primary needs. Your children need to have parents that love God with everything they have. It’s so easy for us to invest in the fleeting things of this life and neglect what matters most. If we want to have families that honor God we must start with ourselves. We certainly will not do this perfectly. We will fail. But when we fail we have an incredible opportunity to model true repentance. Parents- it starts with you. You must be the ones seeking God day by day. You must be the ones devoted to a lifestyle of prayer. You must be the ones committed to loving the ways of Lord. I invite you to join me repenting where we have served idols over God. I invite you to join me in continually dying to self. Parents- let us continually pursue the call of John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Parents- let us love God with all that we have. Before we look at how to disciple our children we must first be disciples ourselves.
In the next blog we will turn to the responsibility of parents in their children’s discipleship. In the last blog we will look at the practical application of passing on the heritage of our faith. In the meantime, continue or begin pursuing Christ first; without this we can never accomplish Gods call on us as parents.