Scripture has lots of advice for parents. Deuteronomy 6:4-9, says, “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 strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
I have grown to appreciate that passage more and more as I have matured in my faith. The basis for our faith is in those verses. We need to know who God is. We need to have that foundation for our faith. We also need to have those commandments in our hearts. It's not enough to have head knowledge, we need heart knowledge. We also need to share who God is especially with our children and encourage them to take to heart His work in our lives.
I recently had a conversation about the church that accepted me as a part of their Christian family even though my parents didn't attend. As a sixth grader, I started to attend a small rural church that hosted the Good News Club where I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. As I moved into Junior High, I attended worship, Sunday School and eventually youth group (you had to be 13 before attending). The church people became my spiritual family that filled the gap because my own family wasn't following Christ.
As the following names came to mind, little things that each person or couple did reminded me of a lesson learned. These people and many of my peers had a profound impact as I watched and tried to imitate them living out their faith. Some of them may have realized their impact. Most of them just did what they did, lived life well by following Jesus.
I learned the value of life from Fred and Alma who had an adult special needs son. They kept him in their home when all of society pushed for him to be institutionalized. I learned to share by watching Carmen and Thelma open their home for our monthly youth meetings. They also were always willing to give us jobs to earn money for camp or mission trips. Ted and Shirley taught high school and junior high Sunday school classes for at least six years. They rarely missed a Sunday teaching me the importance of being dependable. Dave and Kitty as a young married couple took on a crazy youth ministry and showed us what it meant to serve as a couple. Ken and Mary always had an open door for the teens. They served by feeding, listening, fixing cars and encouraging. Phil and Mary were youth leaders who helped me understand that God's grace was big enough to heal the past. Tom and Janice were Bible quiz coaches who helped me grasp the importance of God's Word for everyday life. Janet always found a snack and time to sit at the kitchen table and listen. Betty was always willing to offer a ride to church, even if it was out of the way.
Our children, teens and even other adults are observing how we live life. They are learning what is acceptable. They are forming their beliefs around what they see in us. Sometimes it's something extraordinary. Most times it's the every day coming and going in life that helps us teach someone else what it means to follow Jesus.
As we begin February, let's live life well by following Jesus in everything that we do. You never know what a smile, a word of encouragement, a hug, or a meal will do in helping someone else understand what it means to follow Jesus.