His instructions to mothers and fathers (or everyone who deals with children), include having His commandments in their hearts, sharing His commandments with their children, and modelling His commandments in their lives at all times.
Parents cannot pass on to their children what they do not have themselves. In other words unless parents have an authentic relationship with Jesus first, it’s going to be near-impossible to share and influence others let alone children.
Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Grace and faith are shown here to be two important elements at the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is unmerited favour, undeserved good will. Salvation is ours when we accept God’s grace by faith. Faith is resting in God, putting one’s whole trust in Him. The life of a parent who constantly relies on God for everything he or she is and does demonstrates the meaning of faith to a child.
How can we experience God’s transforming power in our lives?
Romans 1:16a says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
When one accepts the salvation which God has given to the world in Christ...His gift of grace…we experience God’s mighty power to save us in Christ. Our minds and hearts are transformed as He writes His laws within them. His commandments abide in the heart through the power received, when salvation is accepted. These truths are for us as parents to experience and we may then share them with our offspring.
As God instructed Israelite parents in Deuteronomy 6 to impress upon their children the ways of the Lord, He also instructs us to do the same today and it is to be given a high priority.
Parents are the most influential individuals in the child’s life. The family and home is the main arena for socialisation. Although there are other influencers like pastors, peers and teachers, and other places where socialisation occurs including churches, playgrounds, schools, places of entertainment, parents in the family setting are still the first and most important educators in their children’s lives. Scripture prescribes this kind of parental involvement (Ephesians. 6:4).
When acting as a role model sometimes Christianity becomes a challenge in one’s life. Some people often quote this well known phrase: “Do as I say, but don’t do as I do.”
Let’s be reminded that values are caught more often than taught. There is no doubt about why our children are so much like us. If parents yell at each other and are impatient, children often yell at each other and are also impatient.
We have been amazed at how much our children behave like us. We often blame the other spouse for the negative behavior of our children saying, “You are just like your mother or father..” Often, the reverse is also true - we credit ourselves for all the positives reproduced in our children.
There is little doubt why God impressed the prophet to write in Deuteronomy 6 about how we should share the gospel with our children.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
Many of us are concerned about our children who are growing up in our homes and not accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. This kind of decision does not take place in a vacuum. “By beholding we become changed.” It takes more than just telling our children that they need to be connected to Jesus. It’s through our daily lives, we either witness positively or negatively to them. Even our prayers are likely to be ineffective if there is harshness, impatience and lack of love at home.
Communicating the gospel to our children is what we might call a “24-7” venture. It’s an effort that we should make every day, regardless of what we’re doing; interacting at home or outside of the home, early in the morning and late at night, by the daily rituals of our lives at home and the priority we give to spiritual matters there, by our kindness, our caring and our love, how we testify of Jesus and His saving grace.
Even when we make mistakes (and we will), learning how to ask each other and our children for forgiveness will share the reality of God’s forgiveness and willingness to give us a new opportunity and strength to live victoriously for Him.
In summary, the writer of Deuteronomy 6 is clear with this message from God. We must have a personal experience and relationship with our Lord by accepting His grace and being empowered to live for Him. We should be deliberate about sharing our spiritual values with our children in an atmosphere of acceptance, openness and warmth. And we should be mindful of the fact that we are witnessing to our children even when we are not aware of it. So often what we do is more important than what we say.
By ourselves this can be impossible, but “with God all things are possible.” If we have been less successful in the area of communicating the good news of the gospel to our children than we had hoped, we can with confidence lift them in prayer before our gracious heavenly Father who knows and understands both us and them.
As we turn to Him, we can receive forgiveness for our own shortcomings. We can gain deeper insights into the good news of the gospel, discover more effective ways of using our influence, and receive new strength to continue in our relationships with our children and, hopefully, rebuild relationships that have been damaged.
Best of all, we can get a fresh grasp on the assurance that by God’s own act in Christ He does care for our salvation and the salvation of our children. We can trust Him with that. With renewed hope we can go about the wonderful work of issuing, through life and word, the invitation to accept His gracious gift.
Pr Eric Toleafoa
Seventh-day Adventist Church