By Shelly Burke
(The posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge will focus on teaching kids lessons from selected Bible verses. Adapt your teaching to the age of the kids you’re talking with.)
Moses told the people, ”For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you…The Word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Deuteronomy 30:11, 14
Begin by asking your kids, What are some hard things you’ve done? Answers might be, study for a test, practice for a sporting event, help dad build a playhouse, choose classes, choose a college, etc. Lead the conversation toward loving others. Is it hard (at times) to love siblings?
Discuss the background of these verses with your children: Moses has led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, and is now near the end of his life. Here he is reviewing God’s covenant with the people. The commandment he is referring to is the summary of all of the commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart. (If you’d like, review all of the Ten Commandments, found in Deuteronomy 5:7-21.)
Ask, What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart? It means, of course, to put him above everything, to put what He would want you to do, above what you want to do. Jesus added the second part of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” in Mark 12:30 “And love your neighbor as yourself.”
So to show love to the Lord with all your heart, you must love your neighbor, too. This might not seem hard—after all, we generally get along with our neighbors. But a “neighbor” is anyone you are near. It includes siblings, parents, teachers, classmates; even when they tease you, pick a fight, are mean, assign lots of homework, and so on. This can be very hard!
But God reassures us: It is not too hard for you…The Word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. The Word is, of course, the Bible. Throughout the Bible God gives instructions to love Him and love and forgive our neighbor (over and over again!). We cannot do it on our own, but with His help we can.
What does God mean when He says The Word is…in your mouth and in your heart? We need to know His word, so it’s in our heart and comes immediately to mind—and to our mouth—when we need to be reminded about loving God and loving our neighbor.
Give your kids these examples: For example, if you are tempted to say something that is false, or something that is not nice (which would not be loving your neighbor as yourself), remember Proverbs 13:3, which says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
If you are tempted to disobey your parents, remember that you are commanded to “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)
Finish by reinforcing the importance of reading and studying the Bible: As you read and study the Bible, you will learn more of these commands and principles and they will begin to come to your mind automatically when you need them. And remember to pray to God to help you to love your neighbor (sister, brother, classmate, parent, and so on). He will give you the strength to act and react as you should—rather than as you want to.
Remember: with God’s help, you can do hard things.
Dear God, please help me to honor You by loving You with all of my heart. I also want to love those around me, but I cannot do it without Your help. Please help me to want to read and learn Your Word so that I have it in my heart and in my mouth when I need it. Thank You! Amen.