Proverbs Chapter 16 states that pleasant words promote instruction. If you have read the previous two posts in this series you know that I have some reservations about the use of explanations in training children to follow Christ. Explanation as a method of training is tied to the belief that teaching children is based on information transfer; if I explain to my kids how they should behave, what they did wrong and how to change, then my expectation is that they will behave differently and for the better. The problem with this method is that it misses the reality that behavior flows from the heart, not just from a correct understanding of the situation.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is correctly used as a paradigm for teaching children about God. Here are three translations of this pivotal passage:
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. NIV 1984
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. NLT
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. ESV
Taken together these verses present God’s idea of telling children about what it means to follow God. These three translations read together provide rich insight. Essentially, this passage indicates that parents are to be engaged in an ongoing verbal love affair with words and Spirit of God. The overflow of the parent’s love for God and his word is to be talked about all through the day in all kinds of different situations. Here is the order described in these verses:
First – God is to be loved with every fiber of the parent’s inner being and with every thought of their heart.
Second – The commands of God are to dominate the inner being, the heart, of the parent or teacher.
Third – It is these thoughts that flow from the parent’s passionate love for God that are to be given to children, so that you can’t help but repeat them constantly to your children.
Fourth – The context for repeating or impressing these words diligently upon your children is in milieu of everyday life – whenever and wherever you sit down, walk, lie down, or rise up.
Words spoken in this context are indeed pleasant words.
So, even when children sin, it is the wonder of God and his wise ways that must overtake the parent as he provides correction and discipline. Teaching children is much more than information transfer. God is to be loved in every moment of life. Teaching children is to be done by opening your heart to them to show them the wonder of God and just how much you love him. In this way you can intimately identify with the struggles of your kids. You can show them that you don’t want them to come to where you are, but want them to go with you to the place that you long for – the cross.