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January 9, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren."—Deuteronomy 4:9 (NLT)
Kids are perceptive. They observe and absorb so much . . . way more than we give them credit for. For some reason, we underestimate them and their ability to recognize, process, and understand what’s going on around them. What’s so astonishing to me about our constant underestimating of kids is that we were once there ourselves.
In context, Deuteronomy 4 finds Moses urging the people of Israel to obey the Lord and His commands and decrees. Moses says, “Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him?” (Deuteronomy 4:6–7 NLT). And he warns them of the dangers of forgetting what they’ve seen, of what the Lord had done in Egypt, and more recently, what He’d done at Baal-peor.
The dangers of forgetting are clear. When you forget what you’ve seen, it becomes easy to make the same mistakes. We forget just how perceptive and aware we were as kids, and how many of our parent’s habits—good and bad—we picked up, and yet we’re always surprised when our kids emulate things we do. For instance, my five-year-old son has begun biting his nails, which he learned from me. I never thought he was looking or noticing—and truth be told a lot of times I bite my nails without even realizing I’m doing it—but I was still a little unnerved when I noticed how often he does it.
Had I not forgotten how much I noticed everything my parents did and picked up a few bad habits along the way, had I been more aware of my behavior and my habits, had I been more intentional about passing along good, godly, beneficial habits to my son, this likely wouldn’t be an issue.
I think for us, the lesson is clear: Don’t forget what you’ve seen. Don’t forget what you’ve experienced, learned, and have seen and heard from the Lord. Don’t forget all He’s done. Don’t forget to live these things out, because your kids are watching. Your grandkids are watching. They’re picking up on things, even if you don’t think they are. Be intentional about what you’re passing along!
DIG: What did you pick up from your parents? What habits, mannerisms, philosophies, or character traits did you develop from observing them as a kid? What did they instill in you, whether intentional or not, during these all-important formative years?
DISCOVER: How are you remembering what you’ve seen? What steps are you taking to ensure you never forget that which you have seen and learned regarding Jesus? How are you ensuring you remember His example? How are you intentionally passing this on?
DISPLAY: Over the next week, try to be aware of what you’re doing in front of your kids, or people whom you have influence over. Try to step back from time to time to see what you’re doing and how they’re absorbing it.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.