My wife and I love being parents. We are entering a new phase, the one where the kids graduate and move out. Of course we don’t know how things will work out, but change is coming. I got thinking last night about what I should say - if I were to give one last piece of advice to my children upon their moving away from home, what would it be? Should Elizabeth and I talk to them again about relationships? Should we speak about managing money one last time? Should it be something mundane and practical instead of trying to be profound? (“Remember to check the oil in the truck every few weeks”) Maybe the “last word” should be a warning? (“Don’t eat leftovers that have been in the fridge more than a week or you’ll be sorry!”). Or maybe a word of wisdom would be in order? (“Don’t forget, the early bird gets the worm!”) What would be the most important, invaluable thing parents could say to their kids?
I’m reading through the biblical book of Deuteronomy this week and by listening to this book, I think I know what I would say. Israel is about to cross the Jordan River to enter the land of Canaan and Moses isn’t going with them. Deuteronomy contains the final messages that Moses gave to the people of Israel before he said goodbye.
In the early part of the book, Moses’ messages centered on Israel’s relationship with God – he urged them to love God, to fear God and to obey God. Kids, I don’t know if you will read this, but I believe the most important thing in life is your relationship with God. Love Him. Fear Him. Obey Him.
In the words of Moses: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). “It is the LORD your God you shall fear” (6:13). “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you” (6:18).
“Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God… Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth… And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God” (8:11-20).
Love Him. He has loved you with an everlasting love. He redeemed you with the blood of his only begotten son. Jesus laid down his life to save you even though you in your sin didn’t deserve it. He has showed you incredible mercy and amazing grace. Respond to his love with a love of your own. Love the Lord your God.
Fear Him. He created the universe. He made you. He allows you to draw air (which he made) into your lungs (which he designed). He makes possible your every heartbeat. He is worthy of your worship, but other things aren’t. Give him the respect he is worthy of. He is not only your maker, he is your judge. You are not the boss or in control. May your life honor and glorify the one who is truly in charge. Fear the Lord your God.
Obey Him. Knowing what he has done for you and who he is, make it a priority to keep his commands. Loving him and fearing him means obeying him. Being human you will never be perfect. Even when we have the best of intentions you will make mistakes and you will sin against God. Don’t get discouraged or listen to the voice of the enemy who would condemn you, but rather trust in the work of Christ on the cross for your forgiveness. But then continue to keep the commandments of the Lord. Never stop doing the will of the LORD. Serve and obey the Lord your God.
What matters most is your relationship with God. In view of eternity, what else matters?
Jeron Parkins is the pastor of Living Water Bible Fellowship.