This one question is the weighty challenge that every parent faces. It is unsettling because you won’t know until the moment comes. This is humbling, you are confronted with your limitations as a parent and as a Christian. When the moment comes it will be between your child and God. You won’t be there, you won’t be in control. Scary.
How can you protect your children in these critical moments? The answer is: you can’t! But God’s truth can. In Proverbs 6:20-22 Solomon tells children that God’s instruction given through their parents will guard their lives. This truth is priceless; it is to be regarded as if it were fine jewelry.
Parents, don’t miss this. Here is the answer you are seeking. Yes, the commands must be taught. Yes, they must be valued and received. However, this is only the beginning! The process is not complete until what has been learned begins to work itself into the heart of your children. The process is complete when the commands of God begin to produce the fruit of protection in your children’s lives.
This protection is not simply the transfer of information. Rather it is impressing what has been deeply received in your heart directly into the hearts of your children. This truth is expressed in Deuteronomy 6:5-7: from your heart to your child’s heart. Solomon, in Proverbs 6:22 repeats what Moses says about how the these heart-given truths will benefit your children:
when you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
This underscores the teaching found in Hebrews 4:12, that the words of God are living and active and are capable of guarding the hearts of your children, Proverbs 4:23.
When God’s truth functions this way in children’s lives so that it begins to protect them then the process of heart-to-heart transmission of truth is complete. For example: You instruct your child not to lie. You help him to see that lying damages relationships and displeases God. But you will know that your teaching has taken hold when your child tells you that he has realized how easy and deceitful it is for him to lie to himself.
When God’s truth serves to protect your children when they walk along life’s edgy road, when they know the comfort of truth when they sleep, and when God’s word speaks to them in the face of temptations of daily life, truth has completed its mission. It has been presented, it has been internally embraced, and it has born fruit.
This is the truth that God wants you to give to your children. Don’t be satisfied just with having your children come quickly when they are called. Rather, your goal is to lead your children to protect their hearts by loving God more than they love themselves.