ROSEVILLE, MI – When my wife and I were expecting our first child we received a lot of counsel from many different sources about parenting. Sometimes this counsel would come whether we asked for it or not. Friends, further along on the parenting journey, would admonish us to enjoy every moment because time would pass quickly. Others would counsel subtly by asking questions about what type of schooling we had planned for our child. There was certainly no shortage of counsel given in the endless supply of parenting magazines, articles, books, and blogs. If you are a parent you have probably experienced this as well.
In Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 we read these words, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command to you today shall be on you heart. You shall teach them diligently to you children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates.”
When Moses spoke these words, he was doing more than giving Israel some wise counsel on how raise well behaved children or some gimmicky parenting tips to help things go well in the home. God’s people were on the border of Canaan anticipating entering into the land that God had promised them. If you were looking for a nice, comfortable place to raise your children, where they could be insulated from a culture opposed to God, Canaan would not have made it on the top of your list. It was a land fraught with temptation that would potentially lure the hearts of God’s people away from following Him.
It was with this in mind that Moses urged Israel to diligently instruct their children about God and remind them of the work of redemption God had accomplished on their behalf in Egypt. Moses knew there would be a battle for the hearts of the generations that would come. He knew if God’s people were passive in their responsibility to teach their children, their children would be prone to forget God and chase after worthless things. Tragically, as we read on in the Old Testament, we find out this is just what happened. After the death of Joshua, Moses’ successor, we read these tragic words in Judges 2:10, And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, or that work that he had done for Israel.
We are far removed from Canaan by time, but not by experience. The same battle Israel would face for the hearts of their children is the battle we are in for the hearts of our children. This world is not a friend to the Gospel. Moses’ instruction to Israel, on the border of Canaan rings, true for us today.
We are often diligent in choosing the right car seat, the right baby monitor, or what we believe is the right schooling option for our children. How much more important is it that we are diligent in teaching our children about the great work of redemption God has accomplished through Christ for all those who believe? There is no greater advice that we can heed as parents than the call to shepherd the hearts of our children.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chad Holmgren serves as the Family and Children’s Ministry Pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, Michigan. He and his wife Sarah have three children ages 7, 5, and 3. Chad grew up in the state of Michigan and enjoys reading, following Detroit sports teams (Including the Lions), and hunting and fishing.