God’s Manual for Parenthood, III

C.  Teach the word when you walk.

 God continued His instructions in Deuteronomy 6 with the following: “Talk of them [the commandments] … when you walk by the way” (Dt 6:7). Not only is Bible teaching to take place in the home, it must also to be a characteristic of the parents’ interaction with their children when they are outside the home.   Moses’ mandate is that the parents spend time with their children in and out of the house when they are instructing their children in the word of God.

The instructions of Deuteronomy were written to the people of a farming culture. When the parents were in the field with their children by their side, there was to be Bible instruction. Unfortunately, modern families in urban environments have moved into a more challenging schedule in reference to parent/child relationships outside the home. A frustrated parent once said, “Most homes nowadays seem to be on three shifts.   Father is on the night shift; mother is on the day shift, and the children shift for themselves.”   Nevertheless, the instructions of Deuteronomy encourage parents to focus on their children in Bible teaching regardless of where the children are.

Since many live in the modern urban world, and not a rural farming culture, then it takes special efforts on the part of parents to fulfill the mandate that parents teach their children as they “walk by the way.” It takes planning for parents to be with their children outside the home in a manner where the word of God can be taught. Parents should plan work days together, vacations together, sports together, and any activities that will allow them to live an example of Bible teaching, as well as speaking the word of God to their children. At times the parents need to plan travel or outings together when it is only the father, mother and children as a family unit.   This means that a family must be by themselves without the influence of others. This also means that each parent should plan to have personal one-on-one time with each child of the family. When parents develop a means by which they can walk with their children along the way with a Bible in hand, then they are on their way to preserving a spiritual heritage for their grandchildren.

D.  Teach the word of God at night.

Moses continued that the parents talk with their children about the word of God when they lie down at night (Dt 6:7). This means nightly reflection on the word of God and prayer. Timothy was blessed with a godly grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) (2 Tm 1:5).   These two people passed on to Timothy a genuine faith that carried him throughout his life. The implanting of this genuine faith in his heart started when he was a child. Paul wrote, “… and that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures …” (2 Tm 3:15). From childhood Timothy had been instructed in the word of God. We assume, therefore, that there was evening Bible teaching in the house of Eunice when Timothy was old enough to understand the Scriptures.

Night time is a precious time for Bible study.   It is a time when the day is over and the family is in the quiet solitude of the home. It is a time when the last impressions of the word of God can be implanted on young minds as they slumber off into quiet sleep. Bible reading, Bible stories, spiritual songs, and a host of other Bible related activities can be experienced in the quietness of the evening as children find rest in sleep. The Bible is a source of sweet dreams. Evening Bible teaching is a time of joy and reverence when the word of God becomes the center of attraction for the last wakened moments of the day.

We will always remember the family in the nation of Uganda with whom we stayed many years ago. This family was isolated in the country. There was no electricity, no batteries for radios, and thus, no radios. No TV, no cellphones, no internet, etc. There was no newspaper and no books in school for children. We asked the family with whom we stayed what they did at night when they came in from working in the fields. The father replied, “We have about two hours of spiritual singing, reading the Bible by candle light when we have a candle, and telling Bible stories.” We might think this odd, but keep in mind that this was the way the world lived for thousands of years before people were “blessed” (or, cursed) with modern means of communication, or distractions. This was the way it was until the home became a place to go in order to get ready to go somewhere else. People actually sat down and looked at one another when they communicated, without some electronic communication device in their hands.

Some poetical parent surely wrote the following in reference to parenthood:

Before your child comes to seven,

Teach him well the way to heaven.

Better still the truth will thrive,

If he knows it when he is five.

Best of all, if at your knee,

He learns it when he is three.

[Next lecture: September 15]

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