14th Sunday after Pentecost August 29, 2021
2 Timothy 3:12-17
627, 628, 629, 625
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +
“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.”
Anyone following the news these days knows that a hot bottom topic in education is the radical curriculum known as “Critical Race Theory.” While the liberal educators claim that this philosophy will help eliminate racism, it accomplishes the exact opposite. It poisons children’s minds with the lie that all white people are racist oppressors and white supremacists, and all people of color are the oppressed. This erroneous teaching would cause various races to turn against one another and create a destructive atmosphere is society. Conscientious and caring parents want their children to learn truths that will advance their knowledge and be beneficial for their lives. They want education that builds up their children and does not tear them down.
To be sure, the obtaining of a good, well-rounded education is a very important element in having a productive society. From a Christian perspective, God’s people want to develop their God given talents and abilities as much as possible so that as faithful stewards they will be well equipped to serve for the benefit of others.
Regarding the education of our youth, what concerns us the most is their spiritual education and training in the Lord. We don’t want our children growing up to be spiritually illiterate, ignorant of the saving grace of God and of His holy will for their lives, or for them to become spiritual drop-outs, who spurn God’s baptismal covenant by turning aside from following the Lord. Rather, we want our children to grow up to be like Timothy of whom it was said in Scripture, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) We want our children to be raised in the Lord so that what is said in the book of Proverbs in this regard may also be true of our children as well, where it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
We are impressed with the gravity of the task and the serious need to diligently teach and train our children in the Lord, being very much aware of the sinful nature that is at work in their lives and of a very powerful, influential and destructive force at work that also seeks to educate our children and vies for the mastery of their minds and souls. We speak here of Satan who is very active everyday as he works through his human surrogates. His agents may come to our children under the guise of educators who teach the godless philosophy of humanism, evolution, critical race theory, as well as Marxism. There are also negative influences coming from movie, television, music, and social media industry, promoting worldliness. The devil also is at work through peer groups who can turn the hearts of our children away from God by encouraging them to rebel against authority and the righteous ways of God, and to give themselves over to the pagan ways of ungodly pleasure.
In this wicked, perverse, and adulterous generation, Christian parents are most certainly confronted with a formidable task of bringing up their children in the Lord. As intimidating as this task may seem, the Lord equips His people with the necessary means that make it possible for them to succeed in this important mission. The Lord has blessed us with His precious Word, which is a sure and unerring light that reveals God’s gracious plan of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It serves to guide our footsteps along the path of righteousness for Jesus’ name sake. And the Word of God is the source of spiritual life as the Holy Spirit works through it to instill and increase Christian faith and love.
The Scripture text before us provides parents with divine counsel that needs to be put into practice in bringing up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. While these words are found within the context of the Mosaic Law of the Old Covenant, still they also present basic truths and principles for Christian parenting under the New Covenant of grace.
The first portion of our text begins with these words of God, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” Along this line of thought we also find the Lord addressing these words to parents, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” (Deuteronomy 4:9) In order for parents to be effective in raising their children in the Lord, they first of all have to give attention to their own spiritual life. If parents are to teach their children the spiritual and eternal truths of God, they themselves need to be students of the Word so that they do not lose sight of or forget those wonderful teachings of God’s grace, mercy, and truth, and so that they can be better able to instruct their children.
Not only is it important to have knowledge of the Word in the mind, but also that it is an active and vibrant force in the parents’ lives. Paul gives this exhortation in Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (3:16-17) When children witness the way of Christian faith, love, holiness, and devotion in their parents, they learn first-hand of the Christian way and can behold how meaningful and important it is.
Pray therefore that the Holy Spirit work mightily in our hearts through the Gospel in the Word and Sacraments so that in our parenting we bring forth fruits of the Spirit in our lives such as love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, humbleness of mind, meekness of spirit, self-control, longsuffering, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other. How important it is for the Word of God to be found in our minds and in our hearts for us to be effective in Christian parenting.
Our text continues with these words of divine counsel for Christian parenting, “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.” In regard to carrying out the task of bringing up our children in Christian training and instruction our text reminds us of some important matters—the one is that in this “work-a-day world” parents need to make time in their day for their children; that they should work at keeping the lines of communication open; and that they should take advantage of various times and opportunities in the day to impart the teachings of our Savior God.
In the matter of talking to our children about the Word of God when we sit down in our home, one very good and beneficial practice has been having family devotions together. During this time together a portion of Scripture or a Bible story or a lesson from a devotion book may be read, discussed with the family and then a prayer offered.
Now, since of the favorite pass time while sitting down together in the home is watching television and as there are many unsavory programs on the air these days, parents would be well advised to monitor and control what is watched. Also, whenever watching a program together with the children and a worldly philosophy is being promoted, parents can take advantage of the opportunity to discuss such things from a Christian perspective.
Our Scripture text also encourages parents to discuss spiritual matters while traveling together. One opportunity for this that naturally presents itself would be the trip home from church on Sunday morning. Parents can well use this occasion to discuss what was presented in Sunday School or in the Sunday sermon, asking the children what they got out of it and how it applies to their lives.
Another opportune time that Scripture speaks of as being conducive for teaching is the end of the day. Having an interest in how the day went for our children, parents might ask them various things about their day and talk about it in the light of God’s Word. If they are troubled about a certain fear or worry, we may able to comfort them with the promises of God’s all-encompassing help. If they are faced with a perplexing problem, perhaps an appropriate word or teaching from the Bible may serve to resolve it. If they are ridden with guilt over some misdeed that they have committed, with an understanding and loving spirit we can comfort and reassure them of God’s mercy and love, and of His forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Finally, our text exhorts parents to begin the day with the Word of God. What better way to start a new day than to remind the children that the grace and favor of God rests upon them because of our Savior Jesus Christ or to assure them of God’s abiding presence in their lives, and of His promises to bless them with His many gifts. The Word of God’s grace brightens each new day and brings hope and gladness to the heart.
While a good secular education can be useful for this world’s life, a spiritual education in the Lord serves our children well for this life and for the life of the world to come. We want our children to receive a good education not only so that they can be productive citizens, but also so that they can serve the Lord and glorify His name by spreading the good news of the Gospel and living unto Him. And most importantly we want our children to know and believe in the Savior so that they might be citizens of heaven in the life of the world to come.
May God richly bless the parents’ efforts to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. And may God the Holy Spirit work mightily in the hearts of those children for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.