“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 6:20)
Here’s an impossible task for Mother’s Day: List all the things you have ever learned from your mother (in chronological order, of course). That would be one huge Mother’s Day Card! From the moment a child is born, there is a mother who is instinctively teaching and training. She teaches her child his first words, how to listen, how to sit still, how to eat, how to sleep, how to communicate without words–in other words, how to begin to understand his world. Later on, mothers tend to teach proper manners, respect, rule-keeping, honesty, and all sorts of other character and ethical things. Even when the biological mother is absent, someone usually takes on this vital role of mothering a child. While we certainly learn much from dear old dad, our moms often have much more time with us and thus greater opportunity to teach us all sorts of things about life.
So it makes sense that the Proverbs repeatedly warns children not to forsake their mother’s teaching. To ignore the knowledge and wisdom of our moms is a dangerous thing. Children who are left to themselves or choose to go their own way face much misery in this world. How thankful we should be for our mother’s teaching–and not just on Mother’s Day!
But just as children are not to forsake their mother’s teaching, moms must never forsake teaching their children in the first place. Whatever “other” jobs a mom has, she must hold tightly to this role that God has given her, and never just leave it to someone else. And while all of the basic life lessons listed above are necessary to teach children, mothers also have some “higher learning” to dispense to their kids. Here a few of those major lessons that mothers should never forsake:
1. Don’t forsake teaching the goodness of God. The world will teach your children that they are inherently good. Unfortunately, even parents are tempted to excuse sinful behavior by saying, “You know, she’s basically a good kid.” Follow the Lord Jesus’ lead here when He said: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Even when your children demonstrate good behavior, teach them how they are reflecting the goodness of God.
2. Don’t forsake teaching the holiness of God. Sometimes its easier to teach children about God’s love and mercy and not spend enough time pointing to His holiness and righteousness. Don’t be afraid that teaching the holiness of God somehow leads to teaching legalism or self-righteousness. Actually it’s quite the opposite–properly teaching the holiness of God helps children learn the lesson that they are utterly incapable and unholy outside of Christ.
3. Don’t forsake teaching human sinfulness. Moms, you have plenty of opportunities to teach about sin, don’t you? Your children need you to show them their sin, but also teach them about the sinfulness in the world. They don’t need a candy-coated or rose-colored glasses view of life that is sometimes expressed because we want to protect them from all the ugliness. They need to learn of the darkness of their own hearts as well as the evil in this world.
4. Don’t forsake teaching grace and forgiveness. If we are going to teach a Biblical view of sin, we must also teach the Biblical view of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Certainly, grace and forgiveness are lived out in relationship with our children. But they must also be taught, since they go against human nature. Children don’t need to learn revenge, pay back, and hatred–that comes from their own hearts. Mothers must teach children how to forgive, show grace, and enjoy these–by God’s grace–in their own lives as well.
5. Don’t forsake teaching the responsibility of relationships. I think this is an area moms are best suited to teach, even though dads must speak to it as well. Your children are in a constant laboratory of relationships at home, church, school, and neighborhood. They need to learn every day how to build relationships, manage friendships, deal with siblings, and even love their enemies. You are the best relationship coach throughout their formative years.
6. Don’t forsake teaching obedience and self-discipline. This should be obvious, but so many parents have forsaken the teaching of obedience, self-control, -discipline, and -denial. Many moms are either afraid or simply unwilling to say “no” or give commands. Yet the Bible is clear that children are to learn obedience to their parents–and from their parents. What happens to a generation that is not taught to obey authorities? Well, we’ll save that discussion for another post.
7. Don’t forsake teaching Christ. Always keep your children enrolled in the school of Christ, not your own school. It is His wisdom they really need–His commands, His instructions, and His strength to live them out. Remember that you are just on the faculty of HIS university.
Happy Mother’s Day! May your children not forsake your teaching as you diligently teach them the Word of God.