With all Your Heart

Posted on April 8, 2008 · Posted in Family Worship, Parenting, Worldview

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. These commandments that I give
you today are to be upon your hearts. — Deuteronomy 6:4-6

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God
ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him,
to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to
observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own
good? — Deuteronomy 10:12-13

"Teacher, which
is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " ‘Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the
Prophets hang on these two commandments."  — Matthew 22:36-40

“Whatever you do, work
at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men….” — Colossians
3:23

I ended the last post this way:

However, inconsistency is the
handmaiden of behavior-focused parenting. This is why you must always look
beyond the behavior of the moment. If the focus is simply on changing behavior
then your parenting will be uneven. Children will not be taught to carry over
concepts learned in discipline to anything other than the exact same behavior
situation. Consider the following
scenario:

Jeremy, you have 5 minutes to
play with the toy truck and then Sean may have his turn. You must be fair and
make sure you both have equal time with the truck. This way you can both be
happy.

This direction misses the heart entirely. It actually paves the way for
the sort of thinking that says premarital sex is okay, but adultery is wrong. Give
some thought to this example.

 

That post referenced a survey that, among other things,
revealed that while 81% of those surveyed said adultery was sin, only 45% said
premarital sex was sin. This difference indicates that a relativistic standard
is being used to evaluate behavior, rather than Scripture. Now, to the question: What does this have to do with your
parenting?

In the scenario above, what is the reason given for allowing
each child to have five minutes playing with the toy truck? So that both can be happy. The mom in
this scenario even provided a five-minute hourglass timer for Sean and Jeremy
so they could tell when to share the truck. However, this approach, while
appearing to be a creative solution, is actually teaching relativistic
thinking. Personal happiness is an elusive goal. What makes a child happy today
may not make him happy tomorrow. What Mom did not
do in the scenario above was point her children to Christ. This
event with the truck is an opportunity to focus on the heart. The four passages
at the beginning of this post powerfully show the importance of engaging the
heart when discussing behavior. Colossians 3:23 talks about work and the heart.
This is your goal—to have children who grow up to love God from the heart in
all that they do, even in the workplace. This is the goal that mom should have
in mind as she talks with her children about playing with the truck. Let’s run
through this scenario again with a focus on the heart and upon God.

Mom observes that Sean and Jeremy are squabbling over the
new toy pickup truck that looks just like dad’s real pickup truck. She calls
them both over and says something like this:

“Boys, where did this truck come from?”

“Dad bought it at the store.”

“That’s right, Sean. But why did Dad do that?”

“Because he loves us??”

“Yes, Jeremy, he does love you. Do you remember from family
worship when we talked about why Mom and Dad love you boys?”

“Uh … because God loved you first and he told you in the
Bible that you should love us.”

“That’s right! So when Dad gave you this truck why did he do
it?”

“Because he loves us.”

“Exactly! So Dad gave you this truck because of God’s love
for him.”

Sean says, “I guess so.”

Mom says,”I know
so, silly. Now did Dad give you this truck so that you could fight over it?

“No-ooo.”

“Right again. God does not want you to be selfish with the
truck, but to play together with it and to prefer one another in love while
you’re playing. Jeremy what does Dad do with his truck on Saturdays?”

“He goes to places and puts things in it and comes home.”

“Okay. So Jeremy, why don’t you drive the truck over to the
toy box where Sean can help you load some furniture to carry back to your room
to play with. Then you can take turns doing that for a while. That’s a way you
can work together with the truck.”

“Now boys, one more thing. Do you remember what Matthew 7:12
says?”

In unison, “So in everything, do to others what you would
have them do to you.”

“Is that what you were doing when you were squabbling over
the truck?”

“No, Mommy.”

“Let’s take a moment right now to ask God to help us….”

The above scene assumes several things. First, this mother talks
regularly with her children about obeying God in everyday situations. While Mom
did not use the word heart in this conversation,
she is nonetheless addressing their hearts. Second, this family has regular
family worship where practical things are talked about it. Third, Mom did not
focus mainly on who was right and who was wrong. She focused on God being
deeply involved in all of their lives, even to the point of providing the truck
so that the children could play with it. Fourth, Mom was focused primarily on attitude,
and only secondarily on behavior, as the outcome of attitude.

The heart-focused approach takes time. That’s what Deuteronomy
6 is talking about when it says you should have the things of God upon your
heart.

There may still be struggles over the truck. But now Mom has
established a firm basis to work with the boys and to discipline regarding attitudes
(issues of the heart) rather than being just a referee for equal play time.

This scenario shows that God is concerned with all of life,
not just rules-enforced behavior. This approach to parenting builds a
foundation based upon consistent principles, not on the relativistic whims of
satisfying personal happiness. Addressing attitudes is how you begin to protect
your children from the tyranny of relativism. Eventually, this will help your
children see that any sexual behavior
outside of marriage is wrong. It is wrong, not because it is unfair or because
it fails to make me happy. It is wrong because God says so. Period.

Let me know your thoughts and reactions. Thanks to Don and
Emily for their interaction.

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