Teach Your Children Well

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Psalm 78:”O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord…”

The psalmist says he is teaching parables, things that are hidden. You remember that Jesus often spoke in parables. For believers, they illustrated and explained what God and his work were like.  Unbelievers were left in the dark. To them, Jesus was only speaking in riddles. To them, the truth about God was hidden.

The problem was not with God, or his word, or the way that Jesus explained it. The problem was with the people. The truth about God had been available to people for thousands of years.  But people aren’t born with this information. It has to be taught to them. And people don’t naturally want to hear. They are not inclined to agree. Even when they are convinced it is true, they don’t always accept it.

Is that true of us to a degree? Sometimes we know what God’s word says. But we don’t want it to say that. Instead, as foolish as it might seem, we do things our own way, guided by our feelings or our own twisted reason. Then, after we have made a mess of the situation, and everyone is miserable, we pretend to wonder what went wrong. Even as adults we are like children who very clearly heard mom and dad say, “Don’t play with that! Don’t go in there! Don’t listen to him!” But even after getting hurt, or breaking something, we don’t want to believe it was our own fault. In that sense the psalmist can say these teachings about God are “hidden from of old.”

Still, the psalmist says, we have known these teachings. And isn’t it interesting HOW he says we have known these things? “Our fathers have told us.” There are many things my father told me. He was the one who showed me how to hold a bat and how to throw a ball. He taught me how to bait a hook, and when I got older he told me how to change the oil on my car. I suppose I have learned from him more than I even realize about how to be a husband and father and how to get along in life.

But these are not the things the psalmist means. The one thing a Christian Father has which is really worth sharing with his children is his Savior from sin. It is the word of his God.  Evangelism work is good, and mission work is good, and pastors and teachers and sermons and Bible classes are good. But from the Old Testament to the New the Lord makes it clear that he wants the next generation to hear God’s word from their own fathers. Then they, too, will have this something worth sharing with their children.

Is this the way we are doing it? As we hurry around trying to give our children all the things we never had, the education we never had, the standard of living we never had, do we forget to give them the one thing we did and do have: the message of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ? Do our own lives and priorities speak louder than our words, and do they betray that the Lord is not really first in our lives, either? Can we, do we, communicate to our children why God’s word and attending church are so important to us?

“We will not hide them from our children,” the psalm writer asserts. But there is more than one way to hide them from our children. Rarely have Christian parents tried to hide their Bibles from their children. They don’t whisper about Jesus behind their children’s backs. More often these saving truths have been buried under an avalanche of material wealth or lost in a sea of secular and social activity. Each of us can now say the grace of God that saves us is something we have known. May we not forget that it is also something worth sharing with our children.

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