When God tells us to remember the Sabbath day, He gives us the command to “remember” and “observe.” These words give us the reasons behind His command.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to YHWH your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
“For in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11, ESV).
This gives me two great ideas for parenting.
First, while not all my commands to my children will contain the reason, it’s helpful to be sure that I don’t exclude the reason completely.
My children must obey, whether or not I give a reason why. But if I never give the reason why, then how will my values and beliefs work their way into my children’s hearts? My children will know what to do, but when they are on their own, they won’t know the reason why, which is what will direct their behavior and thinking when I’m not around to guide them personally.
Of course, this means that I have to KNOW why I’m telling my children things. Commands are not to be arbitrary or based on our culture. We don’t base right and wrong on what others will think of us, or how we were raised.
Commands are to be based upon God’s Word alone! This makes YHWH the authority in our lives, rather than man’s word. We say, “This is what we are to do, and the reason is because the Bible says __.” (It’s even more effective to look at the Bible together while you discuss these things.)
One way to learn what YHWH commands is to read through the book of Deuteronomy, looking specifically for parenting principles. We have a study of Deuteronomy here, if it would help you get started.
Secondly, as God gave commands to His people before they needed them, I should prepare my children ahead of time with commands and reasons.
In other words, I don’t wait until I catch them in the act of wrong doing, then tell them what I expect and why. Rather, I think proactively, and I teach at a moment that they’re being good, in preparation for later. This doesn’t ensure that they will always obey. This ensures that I’m teaching and nurturing at times, rather than only yelling, correcting, or fussing.
One way to be proactive in my parenting is to read through the book of Proverbs regularly, making lists in my journal of things that I need to teach my children. Since the book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, it is handy to read one chapter per day. If today is October 16, I can read Proverbs 16, making notes as I read.