Joshua 4:21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
One of the great tasks every Christian parent and grandparent has to accomplish is passing down their faith to their children. By this I mean, not only filling their minds with Bible knowledge, but also filling their hearts with a love for God. More and more the church is seeing young adults who were raised in the church, walk away from the faith. Why is this? I believe that much of it is because although many of these children may have a knowledge of the Bible in their heads, they fail to have a genuine love for God in their hearts.
Before the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, Moses gave them a lesson on godly parenting.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ESV
In this passage Moses gives us three important steps for passing our faith down to our children.
STEP #1 – We Must Pass Down What it Means to Know God
“You shall teach them diligently to your children…” Too many Christian parents leave the spiritual education of their children up to the church and its various children’s ministries. Although ministries such as Sunday School and Awana are very valuable when it comes to helping children learn and understand the Bible, the responsibility of teaching children the Word of God cannot be left solely up to the church and its ministries held once a week.
Why do some Christian parents fail to teach their children the Word of God? No doubt it is because many of these same parents have little or no interest in the Bible themselves. A parent who never opens the Bible for themselves during the week will most likely never open the Bible with their children. Moses told the parents of Israel that they must teach their children ‘diligently.’ The word used here is the same word that was often used to describe the process of sharpening a knife. Anyone who has ever tried to sharpen a knife knows that it doesn’t happen with one or two strokes across the stone. It’s a long, tedious process that requires diligence and patience.
STEP #2 – We Must Pass Down What it Means to Love God
Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
The key thought in all of this is a genuine love for God. Moses told the parents that they first were to love God with all of their heart, all of their soul, and all of their might and then they could pass such a love down to their children. Children must see in their parents and grandparents what it means to really love God.
STEP #3 – We Must Pass Down What it Means to Live for God
Deuteronomy 6:8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The Jews took this commandment literally and believed that they needed to tie a portion of scripture to their body and hang it at the entrance of their homes. Personally I have always believed that this instruction is more symbolic than actual.
What does binding scripture to your hand symbolize? To me it says that everything we do should be governed by the principles found in God’s Word. We must not say one thing and do something else. What does binding it between our eyes symbolize? To me it says that everything we look upon should be filtered through the purity of the Bible. Binding it upon the doorposts of our home and on our gates says that nothing should be permitted to enter our home that is not in agreement with what God says. In other words, our entire life (dress, TV, music, business dealings, personal choices, etc) should all be saturated and governed by the Word of God.
If a child hears their parents or grandparents say one thing and do something else, the child will not only receive a mixed signal, they may actually turn against Christianity because they will believe that is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.
No parent is perfect, yet every parent must be genuine and sincere. In closing, note Paul’s testimony concerning the parents of a godly young man named Timothy.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.’ (1 Timothy 1:5 ESV)