The Father gives parents the key:
“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone is God! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, 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.” Deu 6:1-8
What does Moses say? The one who fears the LORD God- he, his son, and his grandson- keeps all His statutes and commandments which were just commanded, that is, the Ten Commandments (Deu chapter 5). That one is to be careful to observe the Ten all the days of their life. Why? Because something is added to God when His people observe His commandments? No. Because doing so prolongs our days. Doing so allows it to be well with us. His commandments are the recipe for human blessing and human happiness.
So what is the commandment, the first commandment (Deu 6:1)? The LORD alone is God (Deu 6:4) – that is, commandment One of the Ten. It is first because it is the foundation for the other nine.
“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Deu 5:6-7
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Mat 22:37-38
Deu 6:4-11:25 explains what keeping the first Commandment, Love the LORD your God and have no other gods before Him, means. It gives us the tools needful to keep our love for Him burning on the altar of our hearts. God’s instruction for parents that we have been reading falls within that passage. It likewise gives us the tools needful to keep our children’s love for Him burning on the altar of their hearts.
Now Moses tells us we must keep His Word in our heart, and teach that same Word diligently to our children. This is the key to teaching the heart to love virtue, because the child raised on the pure milk of the Word automatically develops the heart that loves virtue, which His Word embodies.
Right away we see he means more than a once a week Sunday school lesson or Awanas lesson. For the parent is to talk of His Word when they sit down, when they rise up, when they go in, and when they go out: in other words, daily, at all times and in all places.
Yeshua told us that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mat 4:4). And this is why teaching our children His Word accomplishes the task of developing a heart that loves virtue. Just as our children’s bodies grow as they are nourished by nutritious food three times a day, so their spirits and souls grow as they are nourished by the nutritious food of God’s Word. Don’t starve their hearts!
As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby. 1 Pet 2:2
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12
How do we know that the heart food of the Word of God will teach our children’s hearts to love virtue? Yeshua called the Word the seed which produces fruit.
“The sower sows the Word. … But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mar 4:14, 20
Read the whole parable of the Sower in Mark chapter 4.
Remember that the Word of God is living and active (Heb 4:12). It contains power inherent within itself (Heb 1:1-3), and that living and active power will work in your children’s hearts even when they are too young to understand what you are reading.
I read through the entire Bible every year and have been since I learned to read at five years old. My daily Bible reading is broken into three portions: morning, noon, and night. I reasoned that if my body needed daily bread three times per day, my heart must likewise need the daily bread of God’s Word three times per day. Be that as it may, you can do this too with your children. No special curriculum is required. Just read, and when they ask questions about the passage, then you can answer them.
Someone may ask, “This seems too simple. Surely there is more to it than this?”
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luk 10:38-42
What if you didn’t start when your children were young? Just start where you and where your children are. God will provide the growth.
On January 1, 2020, in just a few weeks, I will begin again reading through the Bible in one year. Join me!
Previously: The Heart Which Loves Virtue