And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. — Deuteronomy 6: 6–7
Let us act in accordance with the will of God and pass the gospel on to the next generation.
The book of Exodus describes how God gave the law to His people on Mount Sinai. The book of Deuteronomy repeats this account. This repetition illustrates how important the instruction of God—in this case, the Mosaic Law—really is.
Our Bible text makes it clear that it is not enough to have heard about the will of God or to have theoretical knowledge of it. What is really important is that one internalizes the divine will and makes it the standard for one’s thoughts and actions. That is why our Bible text states: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6: 6). In the imagery of the Old Testament, the heart is the seat of human will: whatever a person desires and does emanates from the heart.
Aligning oneself with God’s will and sharing it
Our Bible text assigns special importance to the idea that even the children—that is to say, the next generation—are to know the divine will: “You shall teach them [the words of the divine will] diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6: 7). Because the will of God is so important, however, it is not only reserved for children. In fact, all Israelites were to occupy themselves with it. And this was to occur in all situations of life: “[You shall] talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6: 7).
The attitude called for here came to define the lives of many devout people in Israel. The first psalm attests to this: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly … but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1: 1, 2).
Passing the gospel on
We should take these words from the Old Testament to heart: we are to pass the gospel— and thereby also the will of God that comes to expression within it—along to our children. Every Christian is therefore also a missionary. After all, religious education cannot simply be relegated to the church alone! It must be provided first and foremost in the home! In order for this to occur, we should
- Take Jesus Christ as our example and subject our will to the will of the Father.
- Seek opportunities to pray together in order to demonstrate that our lives are also an unceasing dialogue with God.
- Offer and sacrifice, involve ourselves in the congregation, and help others in order to thereby also be an example worth following.
- Speak of our hope that Jesus Christ will return, and allow ourselves to be prepared for the return of Christ by the apostolate.
If we act in this manner, and also speak of these things, we will be true witnesses of the gospel. Then our faith will no longer be a private matter, but will work its way into our families and from there to other people around us.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 04 September 2016 at Midrand Congregation.