Regarding Scripture: Deuteronomy 6.1-9
We live in a world that wants our dedication for its purposes. If you play, sports the coach, the school and others expect your dedication to the team… to the sacrifice of self. If you are self-employed, you dedicate yourself to your work, sacrificing nights and weekends in order to have luxuries that others may not have. If you are an employee, your employer requires your dedication, and there are times that your dedication level and your employer’s expectation conflict. These are just a few of life’s examples that demand our attention and dedication. But generally speaking, the more attentive and dedicated we are to the task at hand the more successful we will be in that task. The same applies to our spiritual walk with God. God expects dedication and dedication brings success.
Consider Deuteronomy 6.1-9. In 6.1-3, God sets forth the dedication level that He expects from His people. God gave regulation (commandments, statutes, and judgments) in order to teach His people how to live life. God expects His people to maintain the regulations wherever they live. God expects His people to respect Him by observing the regulations as long as they draw breath. And God expects His people to teach the regulations to their children and grandchildren. In so doing, God’s dedicated people can expect success.
In 6.4-9, God set for the dedication directives. To the Jews this section of Scripture is known as the Shema, which is a Hebrew transliteration of hear found in verse four.1 The Shema became a type of confession of faith by which God’s people acknowledged the one true God and His commandments for them.2 Knowing this is it any wonder that Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus referencing this passage of Scripture?3 There are many crucial elements to the Shema, but space limits what we can examine, so we will limit our discussion to verse seven – teaching the children diligently (KJV). Recall: dedication brings success.
In this verse, God is general in His specifics. God was specific in two ways. One, parents are to take the primary responsibility for teaching their children about God. Two, the parents are to teach their children when waking up, when going to sleep, when in the house and during travels. Yet, God was general in that He allowed the father and mother to choose the method of instruction. The issue is not the method that parents use to instruct their children, rather, the issue becomes what are God-fearing parents teaching their children? As God-fearing parents, we must realize that we both actively and passively teach our children. Since far too many parents experience the anguish of unfaithful children, the question then becomes, what happened? Passive influence and teaching of children is a byproduct of the home environment. The struggle is for parents to be dedicated to “active” parenting in the face of life’s daily challenges. Unfortunately for many fathers and mothers, their parenting is on a wing and a prayer. They anticipate their passive influence to overcome any insufficiencies of active dedication and hope beyond hope that their faith will be passed on to their children.
As parents, God does not want us to just passively influence our children. He expects us, with love and compassion, to inculcate the children by our earnest and persistent teachings of God’s precepts. Consider how we actively teach our children our hobbies, our social interests and our political thoughts by taking them with us to events, rallies and through our discussions of life. The difficulty comes as each parent examines their dedication to teaching their children God’s precepts. The challenge is for each father and mother to rise to the occasion and be dedicated to actively teaching their children God’s precepts. Bible classes, youth groups, and Christian Universities can be helpful, but they cannot replace the father and mother. A father and mother’s dedication to God and to teaching their children will bring success.
1. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary; ISBN 10: 0-8054-2836-4; Shema; p. 1481
3. Matthew 22.34-40; Mark 12.28-34; Luke 10.25-28