Last week I wrote about the importance of both spiritual leadership in the family and obedience to God in Bible study. [The two go very much hand in hand. That post is here: one obedient step.] I mentioned that Deuteronomy 6 is an abundantly practical instruction booklet on how to raise a Christian family.
Deuteronomy 6 — Very Abridged (and somewhat Christianized) and In My Own Words
- I’m now going to give you some rules that come from God. If you follow these commands, you will live a blessed life and so will your children and their children. You have the opportunity now to affect your family for many generations to come, so that they will continue to receive the blessings of God.
- The Lord is our God. And as he is the one God — united in all he does — you should be single-minded in your love for him. Love the Lord your God with every bit of your being; don’t hold any part of yourself back from him.
- You should teach these commandments to your children. Talk about them all the time, everywhere you go and whatever you do. Put reminders of God’s laws everywhere you look, or anywhere others might look.
- Do not forget the Lord who rescued you from a meaningless life and slavery to sin.
- Honor and respect the Lord your God, and only serve him. Do not honor, respect, or serve the gods worshiped by those in your surrounding culture.
- Do what is right and good according to God in heaven, and you will live the life that he intends for you — a life of blessing and joy.
- When your children one day ask, “Why do we follow all of these commandments and laws of God? What do they really mean?” tell them: “We were slaves to sin, but God rescued us with his power because of his love. His son died while giving us freedom to live in his new kingdom. Then he was raised from the dead to defeat death on our behalf. The reason we now keep God’s commandments is so that we will live the life for which God has created us, in his kingdom.”
What I’ve Learned
- God’s commandments carry promise. He blesses those who are obedient to him.
- I have the ability to affect my own family for many generations. This makes me responsible both for their obedience to God and for the blessings they receive from him.*
- It seems the two best things I can do in order to raise Christian children (and grandchildren and so on) are to: 1) love God with all of my being and 2) be obedient to him. We seem to make spiritual leadership (and raising Christian children) difficult, thinking about plans and strategies. Perhaps we should focus more on simply modeling love for, and obedience to, God?
- We shouldn’t look like all the non-Christian families around us. I can’t think of a better way to confuse children than to tell them we’re different because we serve the true God, and then to look and act like every other family in our suburban neighborhood.
- We necessarily talk about what is important to us — and our children know that. We should take every opportunity to speak of God’s goodness with (and in front of) our kids. If you’re like me, you shrink back from that just a little bit because you don’t want to be one of those families who sound pious and preachy all the time (ie. Ned Flanders) — it really is a turnoff. I’ve decided it’s not the speaking about God that bothers me in those situations, though; rather it’s the decidedly trite and wooden church-speak. I think we ought to speak about God in the same language we use to speak about anything else.
If you haven’t set a text for your next Bible reading time — or if you just want to read a chapter that addresses raising children — you really ought to work through Deuteronomy 6. It will be a blessing to you and to your children.
* Responsibility is not necessarily the same as culpability.