“Look both ways before crossing the street. Eat all of your carrots. Did you say thank you?” Every loving parent has said these words more than they’d care to admit. We are faithful to teach our little ones the importance of safety, good health and good manners. What about their spiritual health? How often do I encourage my children to keep God’s commandments?
Parents want their child to know what God says about honoring their mother and father and His rules about stealing and lying. But, what about honoring the Sabbath? What about that one? It sounds easy enough. Go to church and you can check that one off your list. At least, that’s what I used to believe. Honoring Sundays as a family has now become the best part of our week.
God created our bodies with a Sabbath DNA. He has placed this spiritual genetic matter within each cell that makes up our miraculous body. We can’t help it, it is how we are wired. There is no possible way for the human body to keep busy for days and weeks at a time. Resting is part of our bodies’ routine maintenance.
While teaching my Sunday school class a lesson on the ten commandments, I asked the children if they knew what a commandment was. Immediately one little boy’s hand shot right up. “A commandment is what a king gives.” I thought that was the perfect answer. God’s commandments are rules with benefits. Yet, one of the easiest commandments to keep, Honor the Sabbath, was the one our family was having the hardest time honoring.
God didn’t make the Sabbath day a gentle suggestion, He made it a commandment: remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The word holy means to set apart. This day has been set apart in worship to Him. Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” It is not out of obligation my husband and I have made this change, but out of a love for our Savior, our King. If it were obligatory, it wouldn’t be a lasting change. Out of love, honoring the Sabbath as a family is a continual desire.
When I started thinking about the Ten Commandments, I discovered I have a very bad habit of rating them on a sliding scale:
Honor your father and mother. – Important.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. – Not too important.
Now, after church we try and make our day as restful as possible. On Sundays, my husband and I usually read the paper together. We keep this day as open and commitment free as humanly possible. It has become a free-time family day.
Our children have a day to themselves to play together, go for a bike ride, or just hang out and read a book. We try to keep their busyness to a minimum too.
There are lots of ways to honor Sundays as a family:
• Have lunch together, or invite extended family over for a Sunday visit.
• Turn off the TV.
• Make Sunday the day your children play outside all day, hurricane warnings permitting.
• Turn off all video games, iPod’s, DVD players and computers.
• Encourage your husband to sit back, relax and take a load off.
Two of our four children are teenagers. Their genetic makeup gives them a physical need for music. One of the changes our family has made to honor the Sabbath is to play only worship music on this day. These small changes have made quite a big difference in our home already.
As parents, Paul and I understand the importance of raising our children in a way that is God-honoring. To teach our little ones respect and honor of God’s commandments, we must first show them how we do it.
Who would have thought we would have to teach one another how to rest? After almost nineteen years of parenting I’m still learning the best way to lead them along the narrow path is by example.