There’s a song that I have the most vague recollection of from Sunday School when I was a child. It was a song about loving people, about sharing the gospel through loving others.
One part of the lyrics were: How will they know, unless we show them? Or at least something like that. I’ve tried Google searching this one line I remember but can’t actually find the song that I’m thinking of – at least I don’t think I can.
Okay, I did find it! The line I was actually thinking of what “How will the people know, unless we show them.” After calling my sister, who I vaguely remembered performing this song while we were children in Sunday School, we recalled that it was the old Maranatha song called Heart to Change the World! Remember Psalty the Singing Songbook?
Now, there was a point to all of that, and it does relate back to this chapter. I was really struck, when reading this chapter, by the first seven or eight verses; where Moses stresses to the people of Israel that it was not their children who witnessed the great things that God did to provide for them in the desert. It was not their children who witnessed the plagues of Egypt.
When I read it, I missed the context. I was reading it wondering why the reference to the children. My thought was that he should have been saying that it wasn’t their fathers – in other words, it was them who witnessed all these things.
Then I read it again and realised I was half right. Yes, the point is that it was them who bore witness to these miracles and great things; but the reason for pointing it out was different. The thing that Moses is pointing out, is that their children did not see these things, so therefore they do not have the same understanding as the Israelites who were standing there at the time, listening to him.
Moses was placing the responsibility on the Israelites for their children’s futures, and their children’s spiritual growth. He was saying to them, “Look, you’ve seen all this happen, you know what the truth is. They don’t, so it’s up to you to ensure that they know God the way you do.”
He gave the Israelites a mandate, to maintain their relationship with God as a people into the next generation, and the generations to come after that also.
And this is a mandate that is on our lives, too, as those who know God.
The people of Israel were being told to teach their children on how to love God, and why to love God too. The thing is, though, as this chapter continues, Moses doesn’t tell them just to teach with words. The first thing he says after pointing out that they – not their children – were the ones who saw all of this happen, is to tell them what to do.
Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. ~ Deuteronomy 11:8
Further down, in verse 19, yes, Moses adds to teach them to your children, but the first thing he says is to observe the commands, or follow them.
It’s an age old thing in creative arts, whether it be writing, film making, dance or painting – show, don’t tell. To really get a message through to someone, it’s going to be a lot clearer if you show it. The first thing told to the Israelites, when it came to showing their children how and why to love God; was simple – follow his commands. Do what he says.
I think a lot of Christians get caught up in the telling, these days, but not in the showing. I think many consider that it’s easier to actually stand on a stage and tell two thousand people that God loves them, than it is to give a hug to a person who is down and out.
The song that my sister and I tried to remember didn’t say, “How will the people know unless we tell them?” It said show. How, exactly, will they know unless we show them?