“And these words, which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
When Moses descended from the fiery mountain, he brought with him the moral law of God as summarized in the ten commandments. With these two tablets, which contained man’s duty to God and to his neighbor, Moses exhorts the people to love the Lord their God with all of their hearts, souls, and might. Christ later declares this commandment of Moses to be the greatest of them all. The Christian is to love God with the totality of his or her life and with all of one’s given faculties. Yet how do we as God’s people cultivate such a love and reverence for God in our lives? How do our families come to worship God with all their strength? How do our children learn to love God with their minds?
In the above passage, Moses provides us with some helpful instruction. For even as God commands us to love Him with the totality of our lives and being, so also God provides the resources for His people to accomplish this duty and privilege. Contrary to Hollywood’s popular view of love, Biblical love toward God and neighbor is not merely goose-bumps and weekly adrenaline rushes. Rather, the cultivation of love toward God comes from receiving and applying His Word to the totality of our lives.
The people of God love their Lord by promoting the instruction of God’s Word and its application to every area of daily life. Whether sitting or standing, whether coming or going, whether awake or going to bed, the Word of God was brought to bear on every situation. By no means is the faith to be quarantined to Sunday alone or to an hour of worship. Like a garden, love for God needs constant cultivation, lest weeds sprout and choke-out the good crop.
Notice also in this passage that the primary responsibility of teaching God’s Word to the children does not lie with Moses or the elders of Israel, but with the families themselves. As Moses states himself, “you shall teach them diligently to your sons.” Though pastors, Sunday School teachers, and churches must aid in the instruction, the duty of Biblical instruction and worship lies chiefly with the husbands and fathers.
Christian husbands and fathers, do you instruct your family in the law and gospel, even as Moses commanded? Can your neighbors and family claim that the Word of God so permeates and saturates the household that the very entrance (doorposts and gates) seems to proclaim the Kingdom of God to all who enter? Are the various circumstances of life seen as natural opportunities to apply the Scriptures?
How can you begin to be more faithful in this area of your family life? First, gather the family and explain the importance of loving God with our whole life and instruct them in the necessity of cultivating that love. Then, begin to worship God as a family on a daily basis with some singing, prayer, and a brief Bible lesson. These daily times together will create natural opportunities to apply God’s Word and to pray over matters of concern to your family. Though you may feel awkward at first and the kids may wonder, “why are we doing this,” the Lord blesses those who diligently seek Him. As you seek the Lord together as a family and as you teach the Scriptures diligently, see if the Lord does not cultivate greater love and faithfulness toward Him in the life of your family.
Rev. A. Boyd Miller, Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC), LaGrange, Georgia.