“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 might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
I have been thinking about this passage of Scripture for a long time as a husband, a dad, a pastor, and as a part of the larger faith community. I find it interesting that before we impress the truth of God’s word on the hearts of our children, we are to love God and have His Word on our hearts. The most important factor in building biblical legacy is to authentically live out our faith both in front of and with our children. Modern education calls this “modeling.” Early rabbis like Jesus called this discipleship. It is in the “showing” or in the demonstration of the Christian life that our children see faith with their own eyes. We train them up by living it now. How do we do that? There are many ways, but here are three that I believe are crucial.
1) Marriage – Ephesians 5:31-32 teaches us that the Christian marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the Church. No one sees that picture demonstrated more clearly than our own children. Arguably, developing a loving, Christ-centered marriage relationship with your spouse is the best way we can train our children in the love of Christ. Is your marriage really characterized by love for each other, grace and forgiveness, respect and compassion? Live a great marriage now, right in front of them. Mysteriously this will train them in the love of Christ and the grace of His gospel.
2) Repentance and forgiveness – There is no perfect family. In your family life you will have arguments. Inevitably you will hurt one another. When this happens, your response is a fertile training ground for your children. When you sin, quickly repent. On more than one occasion I have knelt down in front of my wife or held the hand of one of my daughters and asked for forgiveness in order to seek reconciliation. Live a life of repentance in front of them so that they learn to quickly repent before God and others. Also, when a family member comes to you with a repentant heart, quickly forgive. In this way you are training your children about how God loves them and how they can show a Christ-like love to others.
3) Cause – Train your child by living the cause. The primary cause of Jesus Christ and His disciples is recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to go and make disciples of all nations. Live the cause now. Create a Top Five list for your family. Who are the five people in your circles of influence that need to experience the love of Christ and the message of the gospel? Pray for those five with your family. Plan to invite those five to do things with your family. Equip your family to share the gospel and involve them in the process. Train them up by living it now.