Obey, obey, obey! This is something we all want for our children- obedient hearts! Hearts that obey us & hearts that ultimately obey God! As I’ve been reading through the Bible in 90 days, I’ve just made my way through Deuteronomy, & over & over & over again- God commands His people to OBEY, and to teach their children to OBEY! And if they obey… they will be blessed, but if they do not obey… they better watch out! For God told the Israelites, “I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God…” (Deut. 11:26-28)
Yet, if your family is like ours- obedience is a constant struggle! Trust me- our children are not perfect; we are not perfect! Just the other day, my husband said in exasperation, “What is wrong with our kids? Why won’t they obey?” Yes, they are sinners that need to be saved by God’s grace & that need to be taught to walk in His ways!
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 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. 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.”
Notice how it starts with me- with us… we need to love God, & His commands, His words need to be upon our hearts, & then we can impress them on our children!
How do we impress them on our children??
By talking about them ALL – THE – TIME!!! When we wake up, when we lie down, when we are at home, when we are away, anywhere & everywhere we go- we are to be impressing our children with the Word of God!
Remember the POWER of God’s Word!! 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” God tells us how to get our children to obey (& it is not in order to show that we are “good” parents… it is in order to show “that the LORD is God and there is no other”- Deut. 4:35)… & it is by using the Word of God… His commands… the actual words God has given to us!
But, again, we have to know those WORDS (& LIVE those WORDS)!! Those WORDS are what we need to be diligent in talking to our children about. For those words have the power to teach, rebuke, correct & train our children… those God-breathed words have the power to teach our children to obey! For, as we look into those WORDS, we realize that God is very clear on how He wants us to live!
How we long for a quick fix for obedient children… if we just give them a time-out, send them to their room, spank them, and/or rebuke them… then they will obey. But that is not how it works, & only provides a “band-aid” for their sinful hearts. Yes, those forms of discipline may be effective & necessary at times, but our job as parents is tricky, for although we need to train our children to obey (which involves discipline)… we also need to make sure that we are not exasperating them… which means we are training them WHY they should obey! Ephesians 6:4 says, “do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the discipline & instruction of the Lord.” Discipline does not stand alone… we are also to bring them up in the INSTRUCTION of the LORD!! BOTH are important! This is where GRACE comes in! While consequences for sin are necessary (consequences for sin were VERY REAL in Deuteronomy… plagues, deaths, being swallowed up into the ground), lovingly using God’s Word to instruct & guide our children in HIS ways pours out His grace on our children, & helps them not to get exasperated.
Yet, if I’m honest, the many, many “thou shalt not’s” can seem overwhelming & exasperating to me. How can I teach them to my children without exasperating them?? One thing I have found is that there are just as many “thou shalt’s” in the Bible! And having a healthy balance of both is so important! This means that instead of saying, “Stop whining! Your voice is hurting my ears!” (I’ll admit that I said this earlier today.) We use God’s WORDS & say, “We need to do everything without complaining” (Phil.2:14).And add in how God wants them to act… “God wants us to be thankful & joyful in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:16-18). And then, don’t forget to “practice” what that looks like… having them list how they can be thankful in that situation and/or having them try again without complaining this time.
What an enormous job we have as parents who seek to train our children to OBEY! Yet, what a true blessing it will be to see our children’s hearts impressed with the WORD of God, so that they are obedient to HIM!