At least once a year I try to read a book on parenting. It deepens my understanding of the task to which God has called me. It also reminds me of truths I may have started to take for granted. One such truth, for example, is that I cannot give what I do not have.
In Deut. 6:5-7 Moses instructed the Israelites: “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. 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.”
The basic idea is that parents should teach their children God’s Word, and that they should use every opportunity to do so. Sounds simple enough, but did you notice how Moses introduced the command to teach? Before he deals with a parent’s ministry, he deals with a parent’s heart. The first command of the passage is that we should “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (v. 4).
Jesus called this “the great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:38). Here we have the first key to an authentic and enthusiastic witness: a genuine love for the Lord. We all have things that we are passionate about. I had a high school teacher who was passionate about cricket. It was a passion that we exploited if we didn’t want to have class. “Sir, what do you think of the Proteas’ chances at the world cup?” We’d sit back and listen as he waxed lyrical about his favourite players. He was positively effervescent in his enthusiasm for the game.
It is the love of God which compels us to share his gospel with others (2 Cor. 5:14). Sadly, we often find that Christians share their faith reluctantly. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they were ashamed of the gospel, as though it wasn’t “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). If we don’t love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might, we won’t be motivated to share his Word with others. You cannot give what you do not have.
How can I grow in my love for the Lord? That is where the second command of the passage comes in: “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (v. 6). Our love for the Lord is deepened by our knowledge of him. Our love is a response to his love revealed in the Word and in his Son (1 John 4:19). For example, in Psalm 1:2 we are told of the blessedness of those whose “delight is in the law of the LORD” and meditates on it day and night. Similarly, David wrote: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11).
Have you ever joined a conversation only to realize that we have no idea what they are talking about? We stand there quietly, politely nodding our heads, but we’re just looking for an opportunity to leave. If we want to participate joyfully in Christian fellowship or share our faith effectively with family and friends, we must know what we are talking about. We cannot give what we do not have.
These are the fundamental requirements for an authentic, enthusiastic, and effective witness. We must love the Lord our God and his Word must be on our hearts. Only then are we equipped to share it with others.
Because of Christ,