Christians Gathered and Sharing Theirs Lives Together

A daily devotion for April 14th

Teach Your Children Well

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 door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9

When and where do we teach our children? Notice he starts, Talk about them when you sit at home. When do you sit in your house? At mealtimes, when the family is together. Food and talk naturally go together. Nothing helps conversation more than to sit down around a table full of food and to talk.

Why is it that many Christian families often have silence around the table? People are wrapped up in their own thoughts or on their phones, intent upon getting the food down and getting away from the table as quickly as possible. I have come to see that as a sign either of lazy parents, or fearful children — one or the other — parents who haven't worked at putting meaning into life, who haven't thought about how to make their conversation at the table interesting, or who have made the family gathering at the table a time of judgment and of criticism, so that even when encouragement has been given to talk, and children have shared, they have found judgment of what they've shared, and so they have learned to be silent.

Then Moses said that you should also talk of these things when you walk along the road. That takes us out of the house and into the world, nature and social relationships. There is nothing like nature to unfold truth about God. It gives a sense of awe and mystery to life. God wants us always to see all these wonderful things in nature around us with a fresh eye, so that they illuminate life to us. It is necessary for us, as parents, to watch for teachable moments. How easy it is to pass them by!

Moses then says, when you lie down. What parent hasn't found that nighttime is an open time to relate to children, especially about the things of God? The time to be grateful is at nighttime. It is a time to teach children how to handle anger and resentment, and how to forgive and to be forgiven. There is no lesson in life more important than that, because guilt hounds us, and if we don't learn how to handle guilt, we are going to be troubled. So this is the time to teach children that guilt calls for honest identification of the problem, and a full acceptance of God's forgiveness.

Finally, Moses says to talk about God, when you rise. This is how to begin the day properly. Children have a need for a sense of security at the beginning of a day. Therefore affection ought to be expressed in the morning in a deliberate attempt to make family members feel warm and accepted. But also we need wisdom of the Scriptures. It is so helpful to have a brief but thoughtful exposure to Scripture in the morning — maybe a passage, perhaps only a verse.

The thrust of this passage is that the Christian home ought to be a place where God is present as the salt is present in the sea, where he is everywhere, where it is natural and normal to talk about him, to relate to him, to break into prayer to him at any moment. If that is what our homes are like, then it won't be difficult to teach our children to love God and to count him of supreme importance in their lives, and as they step out into an ever-widening realm of experience, to have a center which is deep and strong and lasting because it is based upon God himself.

Lord, give me the wisdom and the grace to know how to teach my children well. Thank you for your promise of forgiveness and restoration. Amen.

Life Application

Am I taking full advantage of the opportunities each day brings to teach my children about God and his ways?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Life, the Teacher

Listen to Ray