The process of parental instruction is complete when the truth that is learned begins to protect, build up and encourage the children who receive it. Merely delivering instruction is not what is honoring to God or helpful to children. Biblical instruction always has the goal of blessing the one who receives it. This instruction is not primarily for the benefit of parents. Rather, the instruction parents give to children is to adorn them. In Proverbs 1:8-9, the Holy Spirit says how your words of direction should impact your children:
My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.
Here, Solomon is saying true instruction will adorn those who hear it and live it. The end goal is for this instruction to protect those who hear it. Yes, commands must be taught. Yes, they must be obeyed. But things must not stop here. The process is not complete until what has been taught begins to work itself back into the lives of your children. This is how children are adorned. Instruction that protects is displayed in the character of your children. This instruction graces and adorns them. It is just as noticeable to others as if they were wearing a beautiful gold necklace.
This is the goal of what is commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-7. Truth is to be passed on from one heart to another heart. The goal of biblical instruction is to have your children own the truth of Scripture for themselves when you are not there to watch over them. Proverbs 6:22 demonstrates the impact of instruction that is valued by children:
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
When instruction is valued and loved it stays with the children and becomes part of their life. It will adorn their life and character. For example, you teach your child not to lie. You help him to see that lying damages relationships and displeases God. But you will know that your teaching has taken hold when your child realizes how easy and destructive it is to lie to himself. This is instruction that protects and adorns.
This is the truth that God wants you to give to your children. Your goal is to see your instruction protect your children when you are not there to watch over them. Help them to value these words as they would precious jewelry.
The lasting value of your instruction will not be seen immediately. Behavior change is for the convenience of the moment. Heart change is for life. Anger, frustration, and manipulation characterize attempts to control behavior. Pleasant words, consistent loving discipline, investing the time necessary to really know your children, loving God’s word for yourself, humility; these are the things that speak to the heart.
May your words, your instruction guide, protect and adorn the hearts of your children for decades to come!
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This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.