As I said in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series, I believe all children come into this world with one primary job description: “To figure out how God designed life to work.” And He puts them into the arms of parents to help them fulfill that job description.
Consider this passage:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
There are two imperatives in this single verse. The first is “do not provoke.” The second is “bring them up.” There are three key words and phrases in this command statement. The first is the imperative, or command, to “bring them up.” The second is “the discipline…of the Lord.” The third is the “instruction of the Lord.”
The Greek words used here for discipline and instruction both speak of education and teaching, but by different means.
The Instruction of the Lord
The Greek word used here for instruction is the idea of educating, teaching or instructing – with information. This is the idea of giving children the information, truth and verbal guidelines they need to live life by God’s design.
Going all the way back, deep into the Old Testament, we see this emphasized as well. Moses told the nation of Israel:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart (so you can show them with your life). You shall teach them (give them information) diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Our children need to know a lot of information, and the more from us as Christian parents, the better. Judy and I wanted our children to hear about sex from us before, and rather than, hearing it from their friends. We wanted our children to hear about a philosophy of life from us rather from the world around them. We wanted them to hear about God and His design for life from us rather than from others.
When Bryan and Eric were seven and eight. I told them I would be in a certain small room in our house at 6:30 in the morning for a half hour. If they wanted to be part of the boys’ club, there was a special knock on the door, a special handshake and special rules. The rules were that they had to bring their Bible, read their Bible for the first 15 minutes of our time, and then we would talk about anything they wanted during the last 15 minutes.
Sometime we talked about what they read in their Bibles as they came across questions. Sometimes we discussed what I read from the Bible during that time. And sometimes the conversation was about very different things. It was during this time that the boys asked about the birds and bees for the first time. “Where do babies come from? How does that happen?” Fun morning!
We as parents can’t and won’t give children all the information they will get to live life by God’s design. There is just too much information and too many sources providing it. But as parents, we are the ones God is holding accountable to make sure they get what they need and to help them process that.
During high school our children were in a very intense educational situation, but some of what they were learning was being taught by people with very different values and beliefs than ours. They were all in different classes with different teachers, and there was a lot of debriefing that needed to take place, mainly around the dinner table.
We would ask them what they were learning at school, and when we heard something a little off from what we believed to be God’s design, we would ask, “What do you think about that?” They would tell us what they thought, and if we were still concerned, we would ask things like, “So if that is true, then how does that fit with…?” We asked many similar questions, trying to help them critically think through what they were hearing.
It wasn’t perfect by any means, but we worked hard to bring them up in the instruction of the Lord and learn how to be adults in a world they had to maneuver through on their own.
 Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NASB95), content in parentheses added