When we think about teaching the Ten Commandments to our children, we should not think in terms of rules and regulations to merely guide our children’s lives. Rather, God’s Commandments reveal the nature and character of the Creator to our little ones.
Once little children begin to understand God’s Commandments, they will begin to think of God’s purposes instead of only their own desires. They will consider their responsibilities as opposed to only what they can get. They will begin to think of the long-term effect of choices rather than just short-term gratification.
We are to teach our children to view God’s Commandments as the path to a full and joyous life. This teaching can be expressed in these three ways: initiate, educate, and demonstrate.
First, parents will initiate bringing their children to God’s Commandments as revealed in His Word
Being a parent is one of the greatest sources of joy we can ever know. Planting the seeds of God’s Word in our children’s hearts will not happen without time and energy.
The responsibility for nurturing, training and guiding the faith of the family falls primarily to the parents. There is no church program or youth group education that will be able to fulfill that role. The home is where our children’s character and convictions are etched out. It is where they make up their minds about and come to terms with God.
We declare where our heart and priorities are daily. Too often we prioritize running our children to and from the countless activities of life without ever bringing them to God’s Word in a day or in a week. We’ll pull out all the stops to accomplish many things every day for our children but we neglect the most important act of starting their day on the foundation of God’s teaching.
Make a daily appointment with your children and God and make it a priority! Be purposeful in setting aside time each day to bring your child to His Word.
Distractions will come—expect it. So make sure not to be too casual in allowing those unexpected situations to keep your child from meeting with God that day.
Second, parents have the responsibility to educate their children about the importance of God’s Commandments
Without God’s help, we could never meet our obligations to build and train up our child's relationship with their heavenly Father. But when He requires us to do something, He also provides a way to accomplish it. As parents, we will make progress in our child’s life by humbly coming before God every day to ask for help in leading them to a deeper understanding of God’s love and purpose for their lives.
Look at what God promises He will do for us: “I will take My Law and I will write it in their hearts and I will establish it in their minds” (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). This promise begins with us, educating our little ones in God’s Word. It is ultimately fulfilled when they mature and commit their lives to God in a covenant relationship through baptism.
By educating our children to a fuller understanding of the commandments, we will navigate them toward this deeper relationship with God.
How so? The Ten Commandments are a set of rules given to bring us into a relationship with our Creator and to free us from a life of bondage to sin and the misery that living apart from God would bring.
In the book of Exodus, we see how God organized and gave His commandments to His people after He had freed them from Egypt’s oppressive grip, symbolizing the grip sin has on mankind. God's people are to respond to God’s love and deliverance by obeying the relationship guidelines He laid out at Mt. Sinai.
Some say that love replaced law when Jesus Christ died for our sins. But in reality, the Commandments show us how to live in that newfound relationship with Him. Through the Commandments, the called believer learns how to be in perfect union with Him!
Third, parents must demonstrate the beautiful life that emerges when the commandments have been engraved on a person’s heart
Each of the commandments must be lived out and demonstrated in order for them to have meaning to young children. Most will agree that living in disobedience to God’s Commandments will have a detrimental effect in the home. But there can also be a negative impact by simply giving lip-service in our obedience. Our children can sense when we are obeying God from obligation rather than a deep love and gratitude for the giving of His Son's life.
We must wholeheartedly commit to God's way! We need to ask God to stir up His Holy Spirit within us to have a deep desire to live what the Bible says.
Parents have this responsibility every day to set the example. The home is the single most important influence on a child.
Begin with the understanding that our children really belong to God and we are merely given a short time to impress upon them the importance of a relationship with their Creator. May God's Commandments be the firm foundation upon which our children stand throughout their life!