We who are fathers realize the tremendous privilege and responsibility given to us. We have been placed in our homes as the leader of our family. And the care of our children is placed in our hands. That is a great privilege and yet it is also a great challenge as we see what our children face in our current society.
Seeing the downward spiral of our nation’s morality makes us wonder what we can do to keep our children from going in that same direction. How can we keep them from following the world? How can we keep them from making the same mistakes we made? What can we do to make them want to give their lives to Christ? What can we do? Fathers, we have a great responsibility. But amid our thoughts of hopelessness, we find comfort and instruction in the Scriptures.
The Principle (Deut. 6:4-9)
God had just been speaking to Moses about the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 5:29, he expressed his sadness that the Israelites did not have hearts that would fear and obey him. He knew that it would be better for them if they did, but they did not have the right heart. So, God turned to someone who would listen. He taught Moses his commandments and had him teach the children of Israel.
God’s great desire is that people would love and serve him. He longed to have a people who would willingly obey the commands he had given them. Under God’s direction, Moses passed along these commands to the Israelites. And one of the recurring themes in his address, is the need for fathers to pass along their love of God to their children. You see that in several places (6:2, 7, 20). Moses explained that God’s commands were to be obeyed not only by the present generation, but also by their children and grandchildren. But how could this become a possibility? Moses answered that question in verses 4-9.
The first requirement is knowledge of God (4).
Moses told them that the Lord is one Lord. In other words, God is the only one who is God. There are no other gods which can claim his position in the universe. God is God and there is none else (Deut. 4:35; 1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 45:18; Joel 2:27). While the devil would like to make himself appear to be another god, and while his demons have been permitted to deceive many people, none of them can say, “I am God.” When Satan attempted to do that he was cast out of heaven. Only the Lord God Almighty can claim that title. He is God and there is none else. Do you know the God of the Bible?
The second requirement is love for God (5).
This is the greatest of God’s commandments. The Israelites were to love the Lord completely with their heart, sould and might. This is another way of saying that God requires complete devotion. Half-hearted love will not please him. He wants every bit of our devotion. Above any other relationship, he demands sovereignty. Our love for God must surpass the love we have for our wives, children, parents, relatives, or any other relationship. God wants all of us. Do you love the Lord in this way?
The third requirement is internal (6-9).
Moses commanded the people to place God’s commands in their hearts. To do this would take some effort. Each father would need to study and memorize the Scriptures for himself. Then to help his family, he was to teach his children diligently. This means, “work hard at it.” As you read the verses, you see that God intended for them to think about them around the clock. This was not a Sunday only activity. It was to be always on their minds. It didn’t matter whether they were sitting down, walking, lying down, or getting up, the father was to be teaching his children about the Lord’s commands at all times. Have you been teaching your children about the Lord?
My father made it a practice to have family devotions with me and my siblings. Just before bed, he would call us together for Scripture reading, a devotional, and memory verse reciting. When we were small, we all fit on mom and dad’s bed. But as we grew older, we had to move to the living room. That practice was ingrained into me. No matter how tired we were, we always had that family devotions time. And whenever we are visiting my parents, it still takes place
Now that I have my own family, I have tried to pass along that same heritage to my children. It takes work, but if I want my children to know and love the Lord I must be willing to apply these principles not only to family devotions but to all the time I have with them throughout the days, weeks, months, and years we have together.