Dr. Zach Crook
As Christians, we need to build our families on the gospel and make Jesus the cornerstone of our families. The book of Deuteronomy speaks to this in significant ways. As the last book Moses wrote, it describes the time when the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years due to their disobedience and were at the Plains of Moab, across the Jordan River from Jericho. Moses had just a month left to live, so he gathered all the Israelites together to deliver his final message before passing away. As they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses’ final message to the people focuses on staying committed to the Lord. In Deuteronomy Chapter 6, the first nine verses give us a glimpse of this message.
A Warning to Parents
People used to feel ashamed and do bad things secretly, but over time, it became more socially acceptable. Today, many things can be outsourced, including parenting tasks such as burping babies, childproofing homes, and helping kids overcome bad habits. However, outsourcing the spiritual training of children is unacceptable. Parents and grandparents have a limited amount of time to pour into the next generation, so it’s important to train up the children within your family. If they do not receive Christian guidance at home, they will not receive it in our culture.
Raising Up Children in the Way They Should Go
The Jewish people pray a prayer called the Shema, which emphasizes the monotheistic nature of God and sets their beliefs apart from other religions from the Mesopotamian region. The prayer states that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and that these words should be in our hearts. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, He answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” As parents and grandparents, it is important for us to pass on this truth to the next generation.
This involves having a relationship with Christ first and foremost and then repeating Biblical truths to our children and grandchildren as we go about our everyday lives. We must be intentional about building healthy relationships with our children and investing time in talking about spiritual matters with them. It is crucial for us to be an example for our children, as they are constantly watching us. In order to pass on our values and faith, we must prioritize building relationships and being positive role models for the next generation.
When considering what is most important to us and what we talk about and invest in the most, we must also consider the example we set for our children and grandchildren. As parents, we may have goals for our children’s academic and professional success, but what sets us apart from others is our desire to raise the next generation to be passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must prioritize our children’s spiritual growth above all else and lead by example, both in pursuing the Lord and in confessing our mistakes and repenting when we fall short. We cannot passively assume our children will develop a Biblical worldview, but must intentionally set aside time to pour into the next generation. Finally, in today’s post-Christian culture, we must actively share the truth and talk about our faith, as we cannot assume our children will develop a Judeo-Christian worldview through other means.
Capturing Your Kids’ Hearts for God
To effectively share the truth, we need to be intentional about it. In Deuteronomy 6:8 and what follows, the writer suggests binding these truths as a sign on your hands, let them be a symbol on your forehead, write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates. The Pharisees took this suggestion literally and developed Mezuzahs and phylacteries, which were boxes with Scripture in them that they wore on their heads and wrists to show their devotion. However, Jesus criticized them for being hypocrites, as they were not truly living for the Lord despite their outward display of devotion.
It is important to instill a Biblical worldview in the next generation through consistent teaching and living out the truth, rather than just hanging up Scripture in our homes. This can be challenging in our busy world, where we outsource many activities and spend less time with our families. We must make the gospel the most important thing by seizing every opportunity to teach Biblical truth and godly values to our kids, such as watching TV shows with them and turning everyday conversations into gospel conversations. We need to impress upon the next generation that truth is not something we decide for ourselves; rather, it’s something God has already decided. Our hearts are deceitful, and we should not trust them, but instead trust that Jesus is the truth.
As parents and grandparents, it’s crucial to recognize that current statistics reveal a decline in regular church attendance in our country. In fact, the local church may be only one generation away from losing all influence in our society. However, we can also view this as an opportunity for an incredible revival. Instead of despairing, we should follow God’s command to instill His words in our hearts, teach them to our children, and incorporate them into our daily lives.
Discipling the next generation is not optional. The church must decide whether to isolate itself and give up hope or train and equip its members to become ambassadors for Jesus. Encourage your children to pursue spiritual health and well-being rather than worldly success.
Next Steps for Parents
Parents, it’s important to realize that your children are observant and notice when you prioritize certain things over others. You may focus on homework and extracurricular activities, but neglect family devotions and attending church. In Deuteronomy, Moses emphasizes the importance of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength. Repeat these words to your children.
As you reflect on the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, don’t go back to your usual routine and neglect the spiritual development of your kids. Instead, make a conscious effort to spend intentional time with them, sharing what God is doing in your life and nurturing their faith. You can strive to love the Lord with all of your being and instill this passion in the next generation, raising them to be on fire for Jesus and eager to spread the gospel. Do not outsource the spiritual growth of your children to anyone else. It’s your responsibility to pour the truth of the gospel into them for the glory of God.