When working children or teens, there’s a little rhyme that we all should keep in mind at all times.
“More is caught, than taught.” Explained, it means that youth and children catch far more of what we model then we could ever teach them verbally. I would propose to you that this little rhyme also applies to those of us who parent a youth or child.
You see, we can sit our sons and daughters down at the kitchen table and talk at them for hours on end. However, what we model for them in our own lives is what will truly impact their futures.
As I think back to my own life, my first thought goes out to my dear Mom. To give you an idea of what my mother had to deal with, my two brothers and I terrorized that poor woman from birth to college. Both she and my Dad gave us boys many a stern warning about numerous issues and behaviours.
However, as an adult, one of the most powerful memories that I have is one in which my Mother never even spoke to me. You see, my Dad would head off to work before anyone else in the house was up. After that, out of us three boys, I was the early riser. Well, in between my getting washed and dressed, and my breakfast, there was a familiar sight that has become highly significant in my life as an adult: My dear Mom sitting on the couch, her burgundy Bible open, reading and praying.
Now, I have spoken with my Mom in recent years about her dedication to the Word. She has confessed that she missed so many mornings, due to the fatigue of dealing with us boys and life in general. However, the crazy part is that in my memory, it was every morning! In other words, though she missed her personal devotional time with God multiple times each week, she spent enough time that it tipped the scales in my mind as a son. “More is caught, than taught.”
Today, I’d like to explore this concept in relation to one of the oldest passages of the Bible. Today’s text is foundational and should not be taken lightly. Please turn with me to the book of Deuteronomy, near the front of your Bibles. Today, we’ll be looking at chapter 6, verses 4 through 9.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9)
I’d like to zone in on verse 7. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Now, at first, you may think that this verse is pretty self-explanatory, however, I urge you to concentrate on the first two words: “impress” and “them”.
According to Dictionary.com, the verb “Impress” has ten different meanings in the English language, depending on the context. This can be a problem in this passage. If we look at other translations, we see “repeat…again and again” (NLT) or “teach…diligently” (ESV). This in mind, we’re forced to study further into the Hebrew verb in which it was written, in order to get a full picture of this word “impress”.
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states this “impress” is to mean to “…do a thing again and again; hence to whet or sharpen any instrument”. According to further commentaries, the same results were found. This term is most often used in regards to metal-work, particularly with the sharpening of swords or knives. (http://bible.cc/deuteronomy/6-7.htm) So, the real metaphorical command here is “to see that one’s children are sharpened…” (http://my.execpc.com/~crnrstn/sermons/deuteronomy_669 .htm)
In Alaska, most of us are fairly familiar with sharpening knives. Now, if we were to sharpen a filet knife, we could use a high-tech knife-sharpening tool that we ordered from Cabelas.com or picked up at Trustworthy. With these sharpening tools, there’s not a lot of technique needed.
However, let’s think a little more primitively, using a stone like they would have in Bible times. In this situation, the knife will directly reflect whether or not proper technique has been used. Good sharpening technique should be specific, repetitive movements with frequent visual and manual checks.
As far as timeline, this isn’t a quick process like our Cabela’s sharpening tool. This takes time! Moving in the wrong direction, with inadequate pressure or excessive pressure, too fast or too slow; all will have less than satisfactory results. Lastly, if we use our knife each and every season, but neglect to ever put it to the stone, the knife will become useless. Are you starting to see the amazing metaphor that God has given to us this passage?
If we move that back into our concept of parenting and “more is caught, than taught”, perhaps the message is to be steadfast as we sharpen our children. We should not move in the wrong direction, we should not give inadequate or excessive pressure, we should not move too fast or too slow and we definitely should not abandon them to be used and never cared for.
Now it’s time to move back to verse 7 and our second word, “them”. What is the “them” in which we are to “impress” or sharpen our children with? What is the “them” that we need to talk about when we sit at home and when we walk along the road? To understand what “them” are, we must move all the way back up to the first verse of chapter 6. “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe…”
Well, right away we run into this word “these”, which point us back even further. So, now turn with me to the previous chapter, to Deuteronomy chapter 5. What do we find? Here, we find the 10 Commandments, which are the “these” from 6:1, and the “them” from verse 7. I hope you’re still with me.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus has shown us that almost all of our Christian living can fall within these 10 Commandments. More importantly, Jesus consistently points us to the motives and heart conditions behind these Commandments. These Commandments are very important and perhaps, we have lost something by not writing them “on our hearts”, as requested in Deuteronomy 6. Let’s break some of them down in relation to our parenting and our rhyme of “more is caught, than taught”.
Commandments 1 and 2 are found in verses 7 through nine, regarding “other gods” and/or “idols.” “You shall have no other gods before me.” “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Deut. 5:7-8)
How many times will we ignore a devotional time with the Creator of the universe in order to catch more football, Oprah or dare I say it…American Idol? Don’t get me wrong, these are perhaps, acceptable forms of entertainment. However, we need to think about what we’re modeling when our children see us reschedule our day for these famous persons, yet neglect our time with God. “More is caught, than taught.”
Let’s move onto verse 11 and Commandment 3 dealing with the Lord’s name in speech, without significant meaning. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Deut. 5:11) This one is pretty straight forward, keeping in mind that our children are likely listening more when we’re not actually speaking to them.
In verses 12 through 15, we find Commandment 4. “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God.” (Deut. 5:12-14) Here we see the importance to take at least one day per week to relax, recreate and most importantly focus on the Lord. Working our lives away tells our children that work is all that’s to be attained in this life.
Verse 16 and Commandment 5 is our favorite as parents and we love to quote this constantly to our children. “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deut. 5:16) However, as they listen to us complain about own parents or neglect caring for them, they learn that this Command doesn’t hold any long-term weight. “More is caught, than taught.”
Finally we move into verses 17 and 18, Commandments 6 and 7. (The easy Commandments right?) “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery.” (Deut. 5:17-18) However, according to Matthew chapter 5, these are the two that Jesus addressed for us in the Gospels, regarding our heart conditions.
When we come home from work and tell our spouses how much we hate that co-worker, we are modeling the heart condition of murder that Jesus warned us about. What about the numerous TV programs and movies that we allow in our homes. Here, we model a total disregard for adultery of the heart because it’s just ‘entertainment’. “More is caught, than taught.”
As we near the end in verse 19 and Commandment 8, theft is addressed. “You shall not steal.” (Deut. 5:19) Often we think of walking into a store or home and taking something that does not belong to us; but it doesn’t end there. What about not claiming all our income on our taxes? Is that theft? According to the New Testament principles on governing authorities it is.
What about that item in our grocery bag that didn’t appear on the receipt or the incorrect change given in our favor? It’s such a hassle to go back inside and make it right. But what’s the price tag on the lesson for our children? Most important and pertinent to today’s events, do we give back to the One whom all blessings flow? Is tithing an essential part of our family finances? “More is caught, than taught.”
In verse 20 we read Commandment 9, regarding giving false witness. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Deut. 5:20) Are we always truthful about the day’s events? What about the people whom we’ve interacted with throughout our day? Have we retold the day’s events accurately? Our children are listening even when we think they’re not, and they’ll be the first to repeat the story to that Children’s Ministry Worker or Youth Pastor.
Finally, we reach verse 21 and Commandment 10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Deut. 5:21) The MAV or Modern Alaskan Version may read like this. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s cabin or his property, his drift-boat or his snow-machine, his fishing pole or his rifle, or any outdoor gear belonging to your neighbor.”
Back to this concept of “more is caught, than taught”, and our original text: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Let’s mentally go through these 10 Commandments, asking ourselves whether or not we have been steadfast in sharpening our children with “them.”
Let us not give up moving in the right direction with these Commandments. Let us not give up applying these Commandments with adequate pressure. Let us not move too fast or too slow, neglecting Commandments in the process. Most importantly, let us not abandon these Commandments entirely, never to be used and leaving our youth and children uncared for.
Originally posted at QuietMorningsWithHim.com by Jeremy Norton.