As the Church holds a special children dedication service to the Lord this Sunday in conjunction with Children’s Day, we revisit Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Clearly the Lord’s prerequisite is that we must abide by His greatest commandment to love Him and keep His decrees wholeheartedly (v4-6), i.e. we must be walking with Him closely, before we abide by Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NLT) on how, what, when and where we must teach the Lord’s commandments to our children as follows:
“Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
These verses tell us that the spiritual upbringing of children begins with us at home and we are to teach them whenever an opportunity arises, regardless of where we are. Doing this requires that we leave communication lines open with our children.
However, children learn not only from our verbal communication with them but from our non-verbal actions and behavior. Our children will not always do what we tell them to, but they often imitate what they observe. They see how we talk to people, how we treat people, what we do and say and how we express our feelings. Our children will often emulate us, the positive or negative, as a way to live their lives.
Parents have so much more influence over the children. Furthermore, access to their children’s hearts throughout the week means that it simply makes no sense to relegate the spiritual upbringing of children to Sunday school. God has always meant for parents to be good spiritual role models to their children. As role models, parents have to lead by example as exhorted in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 above.
There is no greater spiritual role model than the our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord our God sent Jesus not only to save those who believe in Him, but to present Him as a perfect role model for them to follow to become good role models, even as they are still going through the sanctification process. In Mark 1:17, Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” As recipient of His grace we are to walk and work with Him as His disciples and He will make us His partners and disciple-makers. Parents are the first teachers and disciple-makers of their children. As we learn to fulfill God’s will for us to be a disciple-maker. We must look to disciple our children as well. We must imitate Christ so that we can say with confidence to our children, as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. As disciples we are to be close to the Word, so that we may learn to live the Gospel as led by the Holy Spirit.
Do your children see you spending time reading the Bible and have devotion with God? Do you help them to do these on their own and pray with them? Do you enquire and discuss with them, and reinforce what they learn in the Children Ministry or Youth Ministry or share with them relevant Sunday pulpit message?
In this age of degrading and conflicting moral value systems, it is vital for children to be grounded with the truth and the absolute from young and have them observe faith at work in the family. Parents have much influence over children up to about six years of age, as they believe what they are told. However as they grow older they increasingly question, and once they are more than ten years old they develop their own views and attitudes, and soon they will be able to discern if there is any disconnect between the parents’ Christian faith and how they live it out. Statistics about youth in the USA showed that hypocrisy was the primary reason cited by young people for leaving the church. As a Christian, we must model with authenticity. Will you choose to be a parent who abides by Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and model an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ to your children?
It is not easy to be a good spiritual role model but if we love God and love our children, we must strive to be one. May we be found faithful.
By Lum Weng Kiong (YCKC Bulletin 10&11 October 2015)