9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;Deuteronomy 4:9
Individual responsibility and discipline is foundational to the success of the nation at large. Moses says to “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently”. What does that mean? It means to pay attention to your thoughts and actions. Pay attention to your motivations. Pay attention to keeping God’s commands. In fact, he describes what will happen if you don’t take heed- “lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen”. In context, what is it that they had seen? God had judged their sin at Baal-peor. God had provided for them in the wilderness. What they had seen was God’s judgement for breaking the law, and God’s graciousness and blessing for doing what He said. By not taking heed to themselves, they could forget God’s kindness, God’s will, and the judgement that could come from disobedience.
Moses also commanded them to teach these principles to their children and grandchildren. If they didn’t get these things, they would be in danger of missing God’s blessing and enduring God’s judgement as well.
Two responses seem appropriate and applicable in these verses:
- Keep your soul. We have a responsibility to maintain our relationship with God, and our daily submission to the Spirit. If we are saved, we will always be saved, but our closeness and intimacy with God is what ebbs and flows. If we remain controlled by the Spirit God will grow us. We will remember His commands and experience His blessings.
- Teach others. Our own spiritual discipline will impact for good or ill the next generation. The health or your own relationship with God affects far more than our own lives. It affects our own family tree. We teach those inside our family and outside our family the will of God.
- How is your relationship with God right now? Is there sin to confess? Is there something to obey that you are not being obedient in now?
- Who are you teaching about God? This is not just the responsibility of a pastor, Sunday School teacher, or radio/podcast preacher. It’s the responsibility of every believer to teach others, starting in their own family.