This article was published in the following newspapers:
Norris City Banner – Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Ridgway News – Thursday, February 14, 2008
Gallatin County Democrat – Thursday, February 14, 2008
Raising Godly Children
“Your kids are so smart!” “Your children are so quiet in church!” “Your kids play so well together!” “Your children are so well-behaved and obedient!”
My 5 kids are far from perfect. But still, my wife and I often hear compliments like these. While older children misbehave in church, our 1-year-old sits quietly. While someone else’s 8-year-old throws a tantrum, our 3-year-old obeys. While other 5-year-olds are learning their colors and numbers, our 5-year-old twins can count to ten in two languages, can read basic words, have memorized 20-30 church-hymns and praise-songs, and can recite 6 chapters of the Bible from memory.
So what is it? Good genes? Some secret potion? Luck?
Nope! In fact, I hate it when people say, “You are so lucky to have such smart, well-behaved children.” Luck has nothing to do with it!
If you bake a cake with good ingredients, then the cake will taste good. But if you put junk into the batter, the cake will taste like junk. The same goes for raising kids. If parents diligently obey Scripture when raising their children, then they can expect their kids to turn out very well. But if parents are rebellious, and they refuse to raise their children like God commands, then they should not be surprised if their children are rude, disobedient, ignorant, lazy, selfish, or any combination of these things.
So, what does the Bible say about raising children? Lots! In Scripture, God tells how to educate our children, how to discipline them, how to love them, how to train them in godliness, how to prepare them for life, how to prepare them for marriage, and much more.
But here is where godly parenting begins: Deuteronomy chapter 6. God gives us an overarching command for parenting. If we ignore this command, then we have no right to expect our children to turn out well. Here is the command straight from the Bible:
“The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
God commands us to “diligently” teach our children about God’s commands. That means a whole lot more than just a “memory-verse” once a week in a Sunday-school! God says you should teach your children God’s ways “when you lie down, and when you rise up”. That means, “when you go to sleep, and when you wake up”. God says you should also teach your children God’s ways “when you sit in your house” and “when you walk by the way”. That means, “all day long, in between wake-up time and bedtime”. In other words, God says that the Christian education of children should take place all day long, every day, from morning until night, everywhere they go.
My wife and I try to follow God’s command. When our children wake up, we read the Bible, sing praises to God, and we pray together. At night, when it is bedtime, we do the same. And throughout the day, we teach our children about God and the Bible, and we teach them about life from a Christian perspective. We do these things because we want to obey God’s Word, and we want our children to turn out well!
Are you obeying Deuteronomy 6?
~ Joseph M. Gleason