Deuteronomy 6 is not about truth being communicated through some disconnected mouthpiece. God’s truth must be life for mom and dad if it is to be life for the children. “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” (Deut. 6:4–5).
Our love for God is the foundation for anything we have to say. We cannot impress our children with the fame of God’s name if we are not impressed with him ourselves. If the truths about God’s sovereign power and incredible mercy have melted our hearts and produced a profound love for God, we will impress our children with his awesome glory. If God’s Word is dear to us, it will be important to our children. We must be dazzled by God. We cannot give away what we don’t have.
Psalm 34 is an excellent commentary on this point. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Ps. 34:8). Here is a marvelous description of delight in God. After further exclamation of God’s goodness and provision we read, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 34:11). The one who has tasted the goodness of God is able to teach the fear of the Lord.
“These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children” (Deut. 6:6–7). The things we value and treasure most highly are on our hearts. God’s ways cannot be just concepts and ideas; they must be our reason for living.
Richard Edwards, grandfather of Jonathan Edwards, was described as one who “in the presence of God, appeared not only to believe but to delight.”3 Many say they believe in God, but too few delight in him. Delighting in God is more persuasive than many words.
Deuteronomy 4:9 warns, “So that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.” We must purpose to keep God’s mercies before us at all times. God wants the truth about his being, his character, and his awesome acts of redemption to be on the hearts of his people. These commands imply real danger; these things can slip away.
We must keep God and his mighty redemption before our children. Our intimate, joyful connection with God, our delight in God, our own gratitude for his mercy and kindness is foundational for impressing truth on the hearts of our children. Remember, the foundations of formative instruction are not merely conceptual; they are deeply spiritual.
Excerpted from Instructing a Child’s Heart