Building a Godly Family – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Here is an email I received this week: “As all of us have lived abroad for quite a few years, we lose touch with what is really happening back home in the USA.
Yesterday I was talking to my best friend in the USA on the phone. He is “teaching” a at a place where a large group of kids are gathered for the summer. It was during game time, and they were going to play kickball – the boys against the girls. As he asked this group of boys to to come play, they responded to him – ‘we are gender less – we are not boys or girls.’ They were 10 years old.”
Here are a few disturbing statistics on the state of our children and youth:
In the US:
- About 75% of youth in Christian families leave the church after high school.
- College professors are five times more likely to identify as atheists than the general public.
In the UK:
- In September 2020 “Relationships Education” will become mandatory in all primary schools and “Relationships and Sex Education” will become mandatory in all secondary schools. One of the clearly stated aims of this sexual education is to promote the acceptance of LGBT lifestyles and identities, even in children as young as 4. 4 year old story time included same sex parenting books like “King and King,” “Mommy, Mamma, and Me.” Other children were required to draw LGBT slogans and logos in art class.
- Has issued a publication titled “International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education” in 2018. Its aim is to “ensure all children in schools worldwide” are taught about sexual education with a focus on gender identity and diverse sexual orientations.
In almost every single country surveyed young adults are less likely to attend church and consider belief in God very important than older adults.
- In Poland there is a 29% gap.
- In Columbia 19%.
- Puerto Rico, 16%.
- Brazil 11%.
The list goes on and on. The fact is this. The family is under attack around the world, especially the Christian family. And Satan is going after our children. He is coming for them. The world wants to brainwash your children and win them over while they are young and impressionable.
The family is under attack. But God knows this. He is not silent. He gives us the tools, resources, and instructions to prepare us to prepare our families for this onslaught.
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
- To build a godly family you need a firm foundation
- Foundation Block #1: Believe in and rely on God
Here we see the foundation of a family which honors God. Firstly it starts with a correct understanding of and belief in God. This means trusting in YHWH as the only true God. That includes accepting what He has revealed about Himself to us.
And secondly, you must have a relationship with YHWH. Verse 4 says the “LORD is OUR God.” This denotes a relationship. He is not just some powerful force out there. And belief in Him is not academic. There is a relationship. There is a trust. There is a reliance on Him for everything, including your family.
Psalm 127:1 says this, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
Through your own efforts you cannot build and maintain a happy family. Look at the family of Saul in the Bible. He did not rely on God or follow God’s path. He tried to keep his dynasty together through his own strength. But he failed. His family disintegrated. His sons were killed.
As parents, we must always rely on God’s grace and His wisdom in raising our families and not our own parenting methods. We should educate ourselves. We should of course do our best. We should have a strong will to do what we believe is right. But none of these things guarantee the salvation of our children.
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
As parents we will often fail. But God is our strength. He is the one who can change your child’s heart. He is the one who can protect your child in this dark world. He is the one who watches over your child when you can’t.
- Foundation Block #2: Love God from your heart
If you got to a Western bookstore you are likely to find a large self help section on parenting. Scores of books will line the shelves with all kind of different views. There are so many methods. So many formulas. Each book has a different idea and many of them contradict. Where do we turn? Well, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. God’s Word has the answers.
There are methods for disciplining your children. There are methods for educating your children. Some are good. Not all are. But I believe this passage right here has the key for godly parenting. The key is not in a method or a formula. The key is that you love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. If you do, verse 6 says that God’s commands will be on your heart. Everything else from verses 7 through the rest of the chapter flow naturally out of this love for God.
If you love God like this everything else flows out of this. You will delight in teaching your kids about God. You will enjoy talking about Him when you sit down and you walk by the way. Of course you will be praying for your kids if you love God like this. Of course you will be teaching the Bible to them. And what is more, your kids will see it. They will see your love for God. They will know that you believe what you are teaching them. They will see your life and your testimony and this example will be stronger than anything words can say.
Parenting is difficult and time consuming. There will be many times when you are stressed and overworked. There will be times when you are ready to throw in the towel on things. There will be times when your temper will flair. What will keep you going during those times? The words of advice in a self help book? Your love for God and His love for you will keep you going. This is the foundation. If the foundation is strong the whole house will be. But if the foundation is weak, the house will collapse.
I’d like for us to just take a moment right now and in your own hearts pray to God. Ask Him to increase your love for Him. Ask Him to help you love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Ask Him to strengthen the foundation of your family.
- To build a godly family you need to teach your children
“Whose responsibility is it to teach your children?” YOU shall teach them.
- Teach your own children
What does the text say? Verse 7 says, “you.” YOU shall teach them. The parents. Moses is saying this directly to the parents. The same is true for us today.
I believe that most of you want to see your children following after God. Therefore you make sure to send them to Sunday School. You make sure they are out of bed and come to church with you. Many of you even send them to Christian schools to try ensure they receive a good Bible centered education. These things are good. It is better for your kids to be in Sunday School than out there in the world somewhere. It is better to be in church. And Christian schools are normally far better than the public school alternatives.
But these things are not enough. Because it is not the Sunday School or Christian school teacher’s responsibility to teach your children. YOU. Yours.
The world will often say, “Wait to teach your children until they grow up and can decide for themselves what to believe.” Let me translate this idea for you. What they are actually saying is, “Wait until we have brainwashed your children with secularism and then when you teach them the truth they won’t listen to you anymore.”
You do not wait until kids can decide for themselves to teach them about hygiene, eating healthy foods, exercising, or other basic matter. You should not wait to teach your children about God either. Please understand, I do not mean that you can or should try to force your children to believe in God. You cannot force them to and they may resent you if you try. But you should teach them about God from a young age so they have a good foundation to build on and know how to believe and follow God when they are ready to. If you do not teach your children, make no mistake, someone else will.
Application: Are you as the parent taking the time to directly teach your children about God? And if yes, are you doing it consistently?
- Teach your children diligently
This brings is to the next point in verse 7. It says “You shall them DILIGENTLY!” This is not an easy or quick process. It takes a huge amount of time. And it takes a huge amount of commitment.
The average student will spend roughly 10-12,000 hours in class, plus thousands more hours of homework. Educating children is extremely time consuming. Think about some of the basic tasks you teach children. Brush your teeth. Make your bed. Don’t spill food when you eat. Turn off the light when you leave the room. How many times have you gone over these same lessons with your children? And even after all of those times, they maybe still aren’t doing it a lot of the time.
The word “remember” is in the Bible 227 times. God is constantly reminding us, His children, to remember the lessons He has taught us. Children are the same. If you are a parent, you probably have heard your children say, “I forgot” when you remind them about an instruction. If you are like me and you think back, you probably said the same thing when you were a kid. This is why parents need to diligently teach their kids the Bible. Even in a neutral environment, your kids will easily forget God’s Words. But we are not in a neutral environment.
Yesterday my sons asked me to read them a book. So I sat down and started to read. It was a book about dinosaurs. Almost every single page of the book was filled with stuff about evolution and millions of years. So another opportunity to teach my children about the truth, right?
The world is diligently teaching our children its ideology. As parents how can we do less?
So what would it look like if you teach your children diligently?
- Teach your children in your house
This is the most basic instruction to parents in this passage. In your own house you have the authority. You can train and educate your children relatively free of out side influence. The things they learn from you at home, then can serve as their foundation as they go out in to the world.
The concept is really simple. Call your family together. Open the Bible. Read it together. Then talk about it. Pray together. Sing together. And do it consistently day after day after day. Some people call it family worship. Others call it family devotions. Or Bible time. The title is not important, but as parents you need to be doing this with your children regularly.
Here are a few benefits:
- Bible knowledge. Your children will greatly expand their Bible knowledge. My family had family devotions 5 days a week. Sometimes we had it after dinner. But most of the time we had it in the morning at 7 AM. To be honest, I didn’t always enjoy getting up before 7 for it, but in hindsight I can honestly say I learned far more in family devotions than I did in Bible school in university.
- Theology – What is salvation? What is sin? What is the Trinity? What is justification? By reading and talking about these things every day your children will understand basic Bible doctrines. Because they will have a solid foundation it will be less likely that they will be led astray. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
- Questions – It is normal to have many questions or even doubts about God or the Bible. Your children need an open and safe place to talk abut what is on their minds and receive real answers. In your Bible time you should encourage your children to ask questions, even ones which you may think are silly.
- Quality family time – The world is a busy place with many things vying for our and our kids’ attention. Electronics and screens only worsen this problem. Many families go through day after day without really talking to each other. And most conversations that do happen are often not very deep or meaningful. Devotions are a time when you can open up and discuss meaningful things free of distraction.
- Practical application – Many of the instructions in this passage are focused on doing, not just hearing. For example verse 2 says, “keep His statutes.” One good habit which you may not be doing is ask each person to make a simple application from the Bible text that you read. You can ask your kids, “What will you do today to obey what you have learned?” It can be very simple sometimes like “I will thank Mom for cooking for us.” The next day you can together check if you did your applications or not. The point is that studying the Bible is not an academic exercise. It is supposed to change how we live.
My hope is that every Christian family will have regular family devotions. Set a consistent time of the day when you will meet together. Make a plan for what you will study each time. And then start doing. The first few times you may feel a little bit awkward, but when you keep doing it, soon it will be natural. You and your family will be deeply rewarded.
One study shows that children between 8-12 in the US spend 6 hours a day on electronics and teenagers 9 (not including homework time). Will you allow an Ipad and a computer to raise your child and spend time with him or will you do it?
Here is one side point.
- Play with your children –
Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed up spirit dries up.
Your home should be a happy place. To have a healthy relationship with your kids you also need to spend time with them having fun. Jesus called His disciples His “friends.” Do not become so busy that you don’t spend quality time with your kids. Make time for them. A great use of time is just to turn off your phone and spend 30 minutes really playing with your kids.
- Teach your children in real life settings
The last part of verse 7 says you shall talk of them “when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Quite simply this means that you you should talk with your kids about the things of God all the time and everywhere. Talking about the Lord, His creation, His Word, and His character should be a lifestyle. It is important to teach your kids in the classroom, at church, and in family devotions.
But teaching them in everyday life in real life situations is what is really life transforming. This is where they make the connections between knowledge and practical application. This where they learn how to live out their faith.
My family had a refugee from Somalia over earlier this year. He shared with us about his life and the persecutions he was facing for following the Lord. He had been water boarded, hung upside down, and force to lay on scalding asphalt without a shirt in a radical Islam re-education camp. He lived in continual fear of his life. My boys joined us for lunch. After the man left we talked. We talked about persecution, how to help people in need, how to respond when people mistreat us, and more. It was a real life opportunity to help them see what the Bible means when it talks about suffering for your faith. And that experience helped them understand that much deeper than if it was taught in Sunday School.
As parents, we should make a habit to talk with our kids about the things they are seeing and experiencing in the world, both good and bad. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask to start conversations:
- When taking a walk with little kids, you can ask them, “What do you see?” And then, “Who made that?” You can then talk about creation. Troy mentioned in the men’s retreat he goes even farther and asks, “What is the tree doing?” And then he talks about how the trees (and all creation) are glorifying God.
- On the way home from church ask your kids, “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” Then talk about it.
- When your kids are mistreated ask them, “How does the Bible say you should respond?” Then talk about it.
There are many different ways to do this. But you need to be intentional. One simple application is to begin having one meaningful conversation with your kids about the Lord outside of normal Bible time each day. Soon you will probably find that not only will your kid grow in His understanding of the Lord, but you will understand him a lot better too.
III. Building a godly family will bring blessings from God
Moses goes on to describe the results of obedience or disobedience. See some excerpts below.
Long life or being wiped out (verse 14-15) – You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, 15 for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.
Verse 18 – You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers
In other words, “this is important.” This is a life or death issue. If they obey God and teach their children to obey, God will bless them. If they disobey, or their future generations disobey then God would not happy and they would face the consequences.
Did they do it? Did they train up the next generation to follow after God.
Judges 2:7-8,10 – The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten… After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.
This was the very next generation after Deuteronomy 6! When I read this, its so sad. In only generation the people turned away from God. And it says they didn’t even know what God had done for Israel. The parents failed. They failed God. And they failed their children.
What is your goal for your children? For most parents in the world, they want their children to be successful. That is a good goal. But how do you define success? Most parents want their children to be smart and to become well educated. They hope their kids go to a famous school, get great scores, and have a well paying job. Perhaps a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a politician. They would view that as success.
But Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” One day our children will stand before God. They will be called to give an account. Some may hold up their degrees and diplomas. Others owned fancy cars and gadgets. Perhaps others were famous and influential in their fields. Others may point to their hefty bank accounts. But if they did not have a relationship with Jesus, God will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
As a parent, I can think of nothing worse than this moment, hearing God say “Depart from me, I never knew you” to my child and then casting him into eternal hell.
Every time before Christy (my wife) was pregnant we would pray together, “God do not give us a child unless that child will one day be your child.”
Brothers and sisters, this is something that may feel far off and intangible right now. But it is real. The judgment is coming. Are you doing everything you can to make sure you child is ready? When your child has an exam coming up, you make sure he is ready, right? You give her the materials she needs. You make her study You make sure she gets a good rest. How can you do less for the final exam?
Conclusion: When we look around us, the world is running faster and faster away from God. This week one brother told me, “Our society is lost!” Sometimes its scary thinking about what the world will look like in 10-20-30 years as our kids grow up. This is why we must train our children up now.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Jesus said in:
Matthew 19:14 – Permit the children to come to me.
Make no mistake. We are in a war for our children’s souls. Satan wants them. But Jesus also wants them. He loves them more than you ever could. Help your children come to Jesus. He is the one who can help them face this world, and help them to be overwhelming conquerors.
If you are here today and you are not a parent, you can join this battle too. Pray for the children. Encourage the families around you. You can also help to train up the next generation. You can teach in Sunday School. And you can disciple spiritual children.
Charles Spurgeon said, ““I think I know of no grander sight than that of a gray-haired man who has served the Lord Jesus from his youth up.”
To finish, three simple applications. If you do these three things, I think it will make a great difference in your family.
- Have Bible time with your children each day
- Have at least one spiritual conversation with your children outside of Bible time each day.
- Pray for your children’s salvation at least once each day.