“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-8
I drop the tea bag in my mug, and the water begins to change color. I can’t resist picking it up by the string and dipping it in and out again, watching the color deepen to a reddish brown.
We want our children to be so steeped in the Word of God that they change colors, like the cup of water that becomes tea. We send them to Awana and Sunday school, Children’s Church and VBS. But we can’t outsource the job of teaching Scripture to our kids. The above passage doesn’t leave it at family devotions. We are commanded to eat, sleep and breathe the Word of God.
How do we do that? Family devotions are enough of a struggle as it is …
Let me start by saying it doesn’t mean you need to preach mini-sermons at every juncture of the day. But it does mean that we (often and conscientiously) point our own gaze and our children’s back to the face of our Savior.
There are five ways I can think of to do that. In this article I’ll focus on the first and most obvious (but hardest):
1. Whatever we encounter as a family, we need to apply Scripture to it. Our kids must understand that our truth comes from the Bible, not some generic form of American moralism.
One evening last summer, we got into a conversation with our boys about why some people chooose not to ever drink alcohol. We explained that alcohol can become dangerous when used improperly, and many people become slaves to it.
The next day, we walked past a man sitting on a street corner with a bottle of beer, carrying on a loud conversation with himself.
This man demonstrated a Bible verse for us: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1).
That’s just one example of how you can apply scripture to everyday life.
Are the kids whining? “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach.” (Phil. 2:14-16)
See a flock of geese flying in a V across the silver-lined clouds? “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). Quote it and leave it at that. You don’t have to know the chapter and verse.
“But I don’t have that command of Scripture! I can never think of the right verse!”
I don’t either. 😊
Sometimes (don’t tell anybody) I pull out my smart phone. You think there’s a verse in there somewhere? Find it. Sometimes smart phones DO make it easier to obey God. (You heard it here first.)
“I’m not that kind of mom. It would be weird.”
Often as a mother, I feel like I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. But that’s how we grow in faith and godliness—by doing something we’re not used to doing.
Last week I was in a store known to have terrible customer service. Browsing near the cashiers, I was amused to hear the owner giving her employees a talk:
“I was reading customer feedback recently, and when our customers come up to pay, they say they feel like they’re interrupting us. From now on, when someone comes to the counter, it doesn’t matter what you’re working on, you stop what you’re doing, and you go to help them.”
One of her employees gave an objection I couldn’t hear. But the owner responded,
“Of course it will feel weird at first, because you’re not used to it. But pretty soon it will feel natural, because that’s what you’re going to do from now on—stop what you’re doing, look the customer in the eye, and smile. Every single time.”
I was amused that the customer’s feedback was a revelation to her. But what made it even funnier was the idea that an employee could object to showing common courtesy as a sales clerk.
So … will it feel weird to quote Scripture to your kids during the course of the day? Sure it will, at first. But just as cashiers learn to act a certain way, so Christian mothers learn to quote Scripture. It is at the core of what it means to be a godly mother, raising a godly seed.
There’s a reason it doesn’t feel natural, and that’s because, as Paul explains in Romans 7, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”
“I feel super-spiritual quoting psalms when, say, we see God’s glory in Creation. Won’t my kids see me for the phony Christian that I really am?”
Yes. But that’s okay. That’s just one more opportunity to direct them to God as our good Father, and be humble about our own sin.
Tune in next week for four more ways to steep our kids in Scripture.