In Sunday School, we're reading the book of Deuteronomy. Now I've mentioned this once or twice before, but I just LOVE the book of Deuteronomy. I find it a fascinating book--a book with great significance in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. One of the most important passages is Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
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. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)
Several translations (NLT, NKJV, HCSB) translate it in this way: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Moses writes, "These words that I command you today shall be on your heart." Now I'm not a big fan of the New Living Translation--but I think it helps clarify this text a little. It reads,
"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."
We find in Matthew 22, in Mark 12, in Luke 10 this command repeated as the GREAT commandment.
Matthew 22:34-40 reads,
"But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (ESV)
Mark 12:28-34 reads,
"And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (ESV)
Luke 10:25-37 reads,
"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance, a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise." (ESV)So these two commandments are the MOST important lessons to learn for ourselves--no matter our age. And the MOST important lessons to pass on to others--those of all ages. The original passage stressed the importance of passing down faith--passing down belief in the LORD, in the Lord's commandments, in the Lord's ways--to children. Faith is to be a FAMILY thing. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins-- everyone--is to be involved in teaching little ones to follow God. How can we do this? Can we do this? Is there a reason that there are few *good* examples of parenthood in the Bible? What do you think? What are some ways parents can teach their children about God? About how to WALK with God and TALK with God?
I think the first step is that you have to have it yourself. You've got to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ. You've got to have a relationship with Him yourself before you can pass along lessons to your children that will be of spiritual worth. You've got to be abiding in Him, walking with Him, growing in truth and grace yourself.
The Bible has to have a place in your life before it can have much of a place in your family life or in your children's lives. Little ones have to see their parents (or parent) reading the Bible, praying to God, praising God. God has to be real to you before He can become real to them.
Don't underestimate the power of prayer, the power of God. God wants you to know Him, to seek Him, to love Him. He wants you to delight in Him. So pray for yourself--for grace, for love, for wisdom and understanding. Pray to know Him better, to love Him better. Pray for wisdom and guidance and strength. And pray for others too. Pray for your family members, for your friends. Pray that they will come to faith. Pray that they will come to love the LORD with all their hearts, minds, and souls. Pray for your little ones--pray that they will grow in grace and truth. Pray that they will love God. Pray that they will love the Bible. Pray that they will seek him always and delight in Him.
Note, I'm not saying you have to be perfect before you can start sharing with your children or grandchildren, the little ones--and not so little ones--in your life. You don't have to reach a state of holiness, of sinlessness, before you can become a role model, an example. We all make mistakes. We all stumble. We all sin. No one is perfect but Christ. There's no hiding imperfections from those that love us, that know us. No, God uses us where we are.
Don't have kids yourself? Consider becoming involved in children's ministry. You may find that there is a child that does need you in their life. You may have a lot to give, to share.
Do you love the Lord with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind? Do you want to? What would loving God that much look like? If your heart and mind and soul were full of love for God how would you live life? If you truly loved your neighbor as yourself what would that look like? How different would your life be if you gave love as freely to others as God gives to you?
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible