Commandments on the Heart

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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.” (Deuteronomy 6:6–9)

I have often observed that you can know a passage well and still learn from it when you take the time to go look at it again. Whenever I have referenced this passage, it is usually in the context of having godly homes. This is an appropriate application of these verses, but I think there’s more we can consider. I broke down verse 8 to look at this more carefully.

Verse 7 sets the tone of this teaching with the word diligence. It means with care, speedily, watchfulness, or industrious. All of these play a part in setting the tone of these verses. We must handle and teach the commandments of God with care.

Care means we will work to handle them accurately and with respect (2 Timothy 2:15). Speedily means we will have a sense of urgency. That is to say that we aren’t willing to push off our responsibilities to tomorrow.

Watchfulness, in the sense of teaching, means watching to see if the lessons are sinking in and having an effect. Don’t just teach commandments – help others know the “why.” In the sense of following commands, we are watchful of ourselves to be sure that we are not excluding anything or trespassing against God. Paul applied this to himself when he said,

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Finally, industrious teaches us to get to work. Take advantage of opportunities while we have them! (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5)

In the time of Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees had morphed these verses into a literal and exaggerated usage. For today, I am going to use these in a more metaphorical sense.

Hands. What do you do with your hands? Nearly everything! If a hand is hurt and you can’t use it for a while, you begin to realize how much you use them. The word of God should be our guide in everything we DO. Every action we take and every work should be guided by His word. It applies to all of our endeavors: our jobs, our hobbies, our worship — everything. Be sure that these things are all according to the Lord’s will and do not pull you away from being a child of the true and living God. Even those things that are not inherently sinful can become so if they distract us from walking in the light! If they do, it may be time to make some changes.

Eyes. We use our eyes to see where we are going. We use them to read (the Bible or otherwise), to work, and even to entertain us. Our eyesight is an incredible blessing – if we keep it pure! People are so visually oriented and advertising takes advantage of this by using images that invoke emotion or that we will remember. Scientists even say that our minds are such great storage devices that everything we see and hear is stored permanently, even if we can’t access it (remember) at a given time. This means that seeing something will have a lasting impact upon us. Why not then work to keep all that input pure? Don’t allow your vision to be bombarded with sinful images!

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless…Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” (Psalms 101:3; 119:37)

Doorposts. A home without God is an empty home. Something vital is missing. As disciples of Christ, our homes must be centered around God. This certainly makes sense if we are being diligent to follow His will and teach His will, as well as being guided by Him in our work, hobbies, entertainment, even what we look at. Our homes need to be a refuge where God can be seen as the guide and motivation. It takes work to prevent all the distraction present around us from changing our homes, too. Keep a God-centered home.

Gates. Whether you are coming or going, God should be in your thoughts.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2)

What part of your day does not benefit from thinking of God’s will for you? None! Then why should he be excluded? He shouldn’t! Start your day with God. Live your day with God. End your day with God. It sounds simple because it is, but it does require — diligence!

This all takes us back to verses 5-6, “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.” Give God your all and your best!

by Darrell Trammel

dktrammel@gmail.com