I was reminded this afternoon of the need for us, as parents, to be diligent to teach our children at all times. I have noticed a trend lately within the parenting world for parents to ignore their calling to “discipline and instruct” (Ephesians 6.4) their children until their child exhibits behavior that offends the parent. Then, the parent reacts to the situation (often sinfully out of anger, frustration, lust for control, embarrassment, panic, etc.), blurts out some form of discipline and/or instruction (verbal and/or physical), and expects the child to respond appropriately. This is not a healthy learning situation for the child, and it is not a God-honoring pattern for the parent either.
Praise God that, in His infinite knowledge and wisdom, He gave parents a better pattern to follow. One that is very much like the pattern that He Himself has left us, in the God-man Jesus Christ, during his earthly ministry. God’s intent for parents in “disciplining and instructing” their little ones was to do it as part of the ebb-and-flow of their lives. Just as Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry often took place when he was walking in route from one town to the next, or eating in someone’s home, or in a boat crossing the sea from one side to the other, He used the context of everyday life, everyday situations, and everyday locations to teach truth to His disciples. (As a side note, this is very different from the model of teaching and preaching that is taking place in today’s mega-churches, where hundreds of souls flock to a sanctuary from miles around for an hour each Sunday morning, disconnected and uninvolved in one another’s lives, only to return back to the familiar surroundings of their isolated personal lives with no one to show them how to apply the truths that they have learned — we certainly need more of Jesus Christ’s model of discipleship in our churches, but it must start first in our homes.) In the same way, parents should be following the pattern of Jesus Christ and using the context of everyday life, everyday situations, and everyday locations to teach truth to their children.
This concept is really nothing new. It was not birthed with Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. In fact, it was a command given by God to His people, Israel, back in the very first few books of the Old Testament:
“4 ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.‘” – Deuteronomy 5.4-9
Jesus Christ simply modeled this command as He fulfilled it (along with all of the other commands as well — Matthew 5.17; Luke 24.44; John 15.25). But, the command came long before His arrival on earth. See, God created and formed the heart and mind of each individual child (Psalm 139). He understands them. He knows them intimately. Therefore, He knows the form of parenting that is best for them. He has graciously revealed all of this to us in His Word, so that we might apply His revealed wisdom as parents and honor Him in our relationships with our children. The current trend in parenting is not in harmony with all that God has laid forth in His Word for parents to follow (especially as it relates to the passage above — Deuteronomy 5.7-9), and is therefore not honoring to God.