[Mar 15]--Parental Responsibility

Deut. 6:1-9

Let me introduce a little bit of Hebrew here: the word shema. It’s the word for “hear,” and it’s a very important term for Jews who take their faith seriously. Everyday they recite Deuteronomy 6:4-“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” When Jesus was asked what was the most essential commandment for us to follow, he pointed to vss. 4-5. Do you get the idea that this is important to God?

We’ll talk more about the Mark passage cited above at another time, but for now, I want to focus on the immediate context. In verse seven of today’s passage he told parents to “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 when you get up.” And in the next verse he advised them to get Sunday School teachers and youth ministers to teach them on Sundays as well. Oh, wait, no he didn’t. Actually, I can’t seem to find any reference to Sunday School teachers, pastors, or children’s ministers when the Bible talks about teaching children about the Lord and his word.

Am I saying that these teachers are bad or unscriptural? Of course not! But as near as I can tell from Scripture, the final responsibility for teaching children about the Lord falls on the parents. People like children’s ministers are useful as a supplement, and they can be very helpful, but way too many parents see their responsibility being fulfilled by bringing their kids to church.

In this context God also told his people to “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Practicing Jewish homes still place a portion of God’s word on their doorframes, and they kiss it as they enter and leave a home. Does the Lord want us, as Christians in the 21st century, to literally do this? Not necessarily, but the principle is still very important: We frequently suffer from “selective amnesia,” and need continual reminders of God’s goodness and standards.

This raises a piercing question: If I’m a parent, then what do my children see? Do they see that God’s word is important to me? I might not have a literal sign on my door, but do I lead them in studying God’s word everyday? Do we talk about the Lord in our conversations? Do we pray together? Do I show them by my lifestyle how important obedience is? Do I show a true picture of our Father, showing love, mercy, and gentleness when it’s called for? Of course, none of us are perfect parents, and we’re never going to approach his standards except by his grace. Just like with other areas in which we fall short, he promises to forgive and strengthen when we ask. But we have to commit to doing this.

Father, for all the children who I come into contact with, please help me to reflect your grace, mercy, and faithfulness.

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