When it comes to instructing children in the truth of the Bible, young moms frequently ask, “Where do I even begin?” Sometimes it seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? We really do want to do right by our kids. We want them to know God’s truth, to grow in wisdom, to come to Christ at an early age and stay on His path for a lifetime. God wants that for them too, and has made His curriculum available to us for the accomplishment of this very task!
God has provided the Ten Commandments as a foundational curriculum to ground children in His absolute standard of righteousness. (Click here if you want the full story!) These inspired precepts provide a moral compass, to be sure, but they also demonstrate God’s absolute holiness. The Ten Commandments grow out of the very nature and character of God. They must be what they are because of who God is! Thus, they are not optional, arbitrary, or relative. Rather, they establish universal standards for right and wrong for all people… for all time! This is authoritative, critical truth.
So, we parents must be honest and ask ourselves: Do my children know and understand the Ten Commandments? This question is not merely about being able to recite them from memory, though that is an essential first step. But we must also ask whether our kids have internalized these principles, whether God’s truth has become a moral compass that is aligning their thoughts, words, and actions with the character of God. God Himself has commissioned us (Deut. 6:4-9); this is our holy calling.
Knowing that God has provided the curriculum, and that we are responsible to impart it to our progeny, we must also consider another important truth from Deuteronomy 6:6. “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” The training of our kids starts with us! We cannot impart what we do not possess! In fact, our kids’ ability to learn, absorb, and obey these commands turns on our ability to do so first. When our hearts have been aligned with the holiness of God, and we authentically live out these commands, we stand in the best possible place from which to help our kids do likewise. Frankly, this seems daunting at times. And some may respond, “What if I haven’t studied the Ten Commandments yet myself? How do I impart what I don’t know? Where do I begin?”
If this is new territory for you, here are some ideas and resources to help you get started:
- Start with a reliable resource. You could very profitably use J. I. Packer’s book, Keeping the 10 Commandments (Crossway, 2007). It is short, concise, clear, and accurate.
- Set aside a special time each day to teach your kids. Learn right along with them if this is new to you. At bedtime, our family read The Droodles Ten Commandments Story Book by Ray and Sally Cioni (David C. Cook, 1983). The stories apply the precepts faithfully, and will prompt much discussion – Currently out of print but you can get a used copy here.
- Make your time fun, consistent, and uninterrupted. We utilized puppets, books, learning projects, and family discussion to help our kids memorize and internalize each concept.
- Here’s a helpful bit of information my husband and I summarized from our own study. Each of the Ten Commandments can be stated both positively (Do this!), and negatively (Don’t do this!). Below is a quick and easy way to communicate the main idea for each commandment. These “concept” phrases work well with elementary age children too.
- If you have been following the parenting series at Light-Work, you will be interested to see where teaching the Ten Commandments fits in the T-20 chart. (Click here if you want to read the first post in the series. Click here for an introduction to the T20 chart.) Notice that the “10″ are part of the third content block and focus on a child’s moral compass. Studying the Ten Commandments would follow the initial work of musar which concerns the “No” and “Self-Control” blocks. The Ten Commandments also lay essential groundwork for the next content block, “The Gospel.”
None of us can engage in this challenge without God’s gracious help! Ask Him to show you how to engrave these words on your own heart. Then ask Him how to clearly and creatively impart this truth to your children. You can do this while you’re sitting or working, in the morning or evening. Just tell your kids what God is teaching you about His commandments. Then watch what He does!
Posted by Rochelle Fleming