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Teaching the Children

By Watchman | March 10, 2010

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6)

     The results of a study were recently released that categorized the chief wants and desires of America’s young people.  The survey found that the greatest desire in life for most of the young  is for wealth, closely followed by the desire for fame.  Fed by a plethora of reality shows making at least transient stars of people who often have little to recommend them except their undeniable good looks, and untrammeled by  the “obsolete” values of morality and Godliness, we have managed to raise a majority of the younger generation with no clue as to the real definition of what it means to be successful in life.  Will they achieve the desires of their hearts, or will they find only the emptiness that comes from a life lived only for one’s feelings of greed and/or enjoyment?   King Solomon, in chapter 5 of Ecclesiastes tells us that “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase.  This also is vanity.  When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes?”  In other words, when money and fame are the true desires of the heart, there will never be enough: never enough money, never enough fame, never enough adulation.  And yet, these are the things we have taught our children and grandchildren to lust after, instead of teaching them the love of those things which God has commanded of us.

     Each generation of parents has wanted for the successive generation a standard of living that is higher than its own.  Every parent wants a comfortable and happy life for his/her children.  Their is nothing sinful or wrong in our wanting the best for our children.  Sin enters the picture when we decide that we are not responsible for the morals and spiritual training of our own children, and that they can best make their life choices apart from the word of God.  The prevailing theory seems to be that as parents we have no right to force our religious beliefs on our children.  Yet the God who made heaven and earth tells us that we must make these decisions for our families.  Even in the New Testament, which many believe supersedes Old Testament rules of righteousness (which it does not), the heads of families chose righteous living for all who lived under their roofs.  Parents chose salvation for their entire families, even at the cost of danger or death.   Think of it this way:  as parents, we can choose whether we will feed our children eggs, toast, milk and cereal for breakfast or whether we will give them Snicker’s Bars instead.  What responsible parent will not choose the first menu? (Oh, okay, I did give my son oatmeal cookies for breakfast a few times–but hey, it’s oatmeal, eggs, brown sugar and raisins; close enough!)  If we acknowledge and accept our duty to prepare our children’s bodies for a healthy adulthood, how much more we should be responsible for preparing our children’s hearts and minds for accepting the love, wisdom, righteousness and power of a life lived to the glory of God!   Of course, sometimes our children choose as adults to leave the values we instill in them, but if we lay the groundwork for a life lived in Christ carefully, “when they are old, they will not depart from it.”  No matter how far they stray, the Holy Spirit will continue to call them back to the One who knows how many hairs are on their heads and who will be waiting with open arms for their return.

     Despite new freedoms, fewer boundaries and less religious restrictions, teen suicide has reached epidemic proportions.  According to a 2007 WebMD article, the CDC reports the largest spike in 15 years has taken place in the last decade.  Suicide is the 6th leading cause of death amongst 5-14 year-olds, the 3rd leading cause of death amongst young people 15-24, and the 2nd highest cause of death among college students.  The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that there are as many as 25 attempted suicides for every death by suicide.  This translates into thousands of teen suicide deaths each year.  It is estimated that as many as 1 in 8 teens suffers from depression.  Naturally, nothing precludes Christian teens from also suffering from depression, but it is glaringly noticable that these statistics, which began their upward rise in the ’90s, went hand-in-hand with the decision to exclude God from public life.  Sexual practices also are on the rise, with as many as 70% of teen girls under the age of 18 admitting to having oral sex.  Some internet sites as well as many of our public schools are teaching our children only that “safe sex” is necessary, not that abstinance is the only way to stay safe and reserve self respect.  I was appalled to recently see a talk show on which a teacher and school principal discussed the need to have rules governing the kids having sex on the dance floor at the prom!  I am by no means a prude, but the practices they described were unheard of in schools even 15 years ago.   Quite obviously, these practices are by no means making them a happier generation.  Hollow desires lead to hollow lives. 

     God is not dead, nor does He hate us.  God loves us beyond what we can ask or think.  But if we do not train up our young people in the way they should go, as He told us to, His hand will be heavy against us.   Jesus said, ” Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:5-6)   God loves His little ones, and wants the best for them.  He wants us to bring them up to know and love Him; to be able to turn to Him in times of trouble and to worship Him in times of joy.  Therefore, “teach (these words) diligently to your children…talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  Teach them that a stint on American Idol isn’t as important as loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and strength.  Teach them that no amount of fame or fortune can replace Godliness, integrity, wisdom and love.  Teach them that the love of God and following His will is a far greater “desire of the heart” than is a fleeting and empty noteriety. 

     I can’t say whether or not it is too late for some of these young people to be reached.  I only know that we must try to reach them with the gospel of Christ.  God stands ready to forgive us all our sins and grant us salvation–now THAT is true success!



Topics: A Special Word for Today, Kingdom Living | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Teaching the Children”

  1. Shirley Says:
    March 26th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    A line from a song…..”teach your children well”…is a haunting reminder of how we have failed to do this. As our nation goes about its “duty” of removing God’s name from every government building, of being so careful to separate God from state, who will teach the children? It’s a certainty that it is forbidden to do so in our learning institutions. Children are a gift – on loan actually – from God. We will be held responsible by our Heavenly Father for our negligence, as earthly fathers and mothers, if we fail this responsibility. We must not only “teach”, we must “live” what we teach as an example to them. Thank you for sharing what God has placed in your heart, Watchman on The Wall.