Monday, April 27, 2015

You Can't Teach What You Don't Love

Living with an eight-year-old and twin six-year olds, rarely a day goes by that I'm not caught saying, "Did you hear me!? What did I just say?"

Sometimes, the children honestly didn't hear me over the noise of a very alive household.  Other times, they can't hear because that would require their mouths to close.  And then there are those times when I'm convinced they have simply tuned me out completely.

In this information overload culture of ours, I know the feeling.  I needn't leave my bed to be hit with a barrage of content that I must choose whether to sift through or simply ignore.  Often, good messages get lost in the steady stream of data bombarding me because it's easier to scan the long page or, more often, flick my index finger to delete them. 

How, then, are we as parents to communicate the gospel effectively to our children? With my children, I've already learned that even the medium-length lesson isn't worth the effort.  When their eyes glaze over, Twitter's 140 characters don't look so bad--maybe soundbites would reach their small, overloaded minds.  But while lengthy lessons don't work well for imparting a love of God and Scripture to our children, mere soundbites seem insufficient as well.  

Still, the Shema communicates the importance of teaching our children to follow God's commands.  It reads,

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your 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 on your gates" (Deut. 6:4-9).

As a parent, I am to "teach...diligently" the words of God to my children.  In the context of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was basically telling the people to explain the law to their children just as he was explaining it to them before his death.  

In this passage, parents are commanded to make every moment a "teaching" moment.  Whether we are sitting (ha!), walking, lying down, or rising, we are to be teaching about God's law. 

There are easy ways to intentionally fulfill the literalness of this command.  Scriptures we have hidden in our hearts should readily flow from our lips.  We must stop being bashful about speaking the name of God to our children.  Instead, His name should be as common in our conversations as any other named member in our household.  

I understand this type of teaching and have worked diligently over the past few years to put it into practice, learning to routinely speak aloud my praises/requests/thoughts about God and the Bible rather than merely to keep private my relationship with Him.  As a result, conversations about God have become as common as conversations about what's wrong with mom's choice of dinner fare.   

But frankly, I sometimes wonder if I'm saying enough....if my words are getting through to my children, or if it's just more information overload that won't penetrate their hearts.  

The problem with this vein of thinking stems from me missing part of Moses' lesson.  I somehow skipped over a verse, separating this command to teach from the other command that precedes it.  

After proclaiming God's one-ness, Moses starts the passage with, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (v. 5).

Before we can properly teach our children, we must properly love the Lord with our everything.

It doesn't matter what we say about God to our children.  It matters how we love Him! Even Moses knew the old adage, "Actions speak louder than words."

If God's Word doesn't impact our hearts, how can we expect it to impact theirs?  The answer is that it won't.  Our teaching will necessarily fail if we do not love God with every atom of our beings because we will be guilty of saying one thing and doing another.

Yet, for those who do love the Lord and who seek to love Him all the more, this should be a comfort--even though we may not feel that our intentional teaching moments are reaching our children, we can rest a little easier knowing that our words aren't the only ways we're teaching them about following Jesus.

Every moment we breathe is a teaching moment because our very attitude teaches our children about the Lord.  
  • When we are excited about a passage of Scripture and share what we learned, we have just taught our children that the Bible can be exciting.  
  • When they see us intently studying Scripture on the sofa or see our Bible Study classes penciled in on the wall calendar, we have just taught them that making time for God is important.  
  • When we give money to the poor or take a meal to a sick friend, we have taught them to love their neighbor as themselves.  
  • When we choose to play praise music in our cars and enthusiastically sing aloud, we have just taught them the importance of singing praises to God in our routine, daily life outside the church walls.
The list of our daily actions could go on and on.  We are teaching our children to love God with the very lives we live, both before Him and before them

This week, we must continually ask ourselves if we are loving Jesus with all we've got. 

We will teach best what we love most.


  1. Our Bible study group is memorizing this passage together in our last few weeks of spring study. I love these practical examples of obeying this command at home. You are doing a wonderful job with them all :)

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