When Christian parents are struggling to find consistency in God’s Word as they disciple their children, Deuteronomy 6 is one of my favorite passages to consider with them. Verses 4–9, known as the Shema (from the first word in Hebrew, translated “hear”), are a beacon of clarity and practical encouragement. Drawing from this passage, we can look at the foundation, the flow, and the family essential to the holistic application of God’s Word in our homes.
First, look at the foundation of family discipleship. If we as Christian parents aim to better apply the Word of God in our homes, what’s our starting point? According to Moses here in Deuteronomy, we begin with our hearts and eyes fixed upward on God, not outward on the task before us:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deut. 6:4–6)
As we seek to disciple our children, God Himself is the foundation of our mission, not our own plans or efforts.
The Shema gives us a direct charge from God to base our lives on the revealed truth of who He is. In the Shema, God uses His covenant name to clearly declare Himself to be the one true God, the promise- keeping Redeemer who has humbled Himself to bless His people. That’s our starting point. We receive a truth external to us, a truth that should never cease to startle us: Almighty God wants a genuine relationship with us, and He is willing to instruct us, guide us, and ultimately substitute Himself for us so that He might grant us the righteousness needed to accomplish that union (2 Cor. 5:21). Our love for God is rooted in and grows out of that reality. It is all-encompassing; it occupies our entire being—heart, soul, everything, with all our might. There is no compartmentalization of our response to God. He will have all of us or none of us.
Applied more specifically to family discipleship, the firm foundation of the unique worthiness of God helps us clarify the aim of our efforts. This is needed because Christians are not immune to faulty motives. We might be tempted to wield God’s Word in our homes as means to a particular end, whether it be better behavior in our children or the wholesome facade that we maintain for our neighbors. Praise God that His Word is powerful enough even to cut through faulty motives that view the Word merely as a means to an earthly end. Yet our homes should rather rest on the foundation of Word-centered discipleship that exalts God as He transforms us into the image of His glory (2 Cor. 3:18).