Now this is the commandment – the statutes and the ordinances – that the LORD your GOD charged me to teach you and to observe in the land you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.
~~Teach. Observe. Occupy. Fear. Keep. Hear. Multiply.
Lovely verbs, aren’t they? But they only work if there is action behind the words.
Nouns are also lovely. Some nouns are concrete and can be readily picked up (rock or ball) and then some nouns are abstract and name things that cannot be placed in a pocket (love or hope).
When the children were small, I made up these handy definitions to help them remember what the words meant. For example, obedience is ‘doing what I am told, the first time, every time, with a happy, submissive spirit.’ And forgiveness is ‘giving up my right to hurt someone back.’ All these words cover large concepts, large actions. Just like the verbs in this Deuteronomy passage.
There is something to be said for unity that can be experienced when all the people in a church, in a family, in a town, in a company or school, work together for one purpose, one goal, one ‘land flowing with milk and honey’. It’s just cool when we get there together.
And that unity can be accomplished with the help of another part of speech – an adverb. In this case, the adverb “diligently”. An adverb helps verbs that maybe don’t know how they are supposed to be done. Slowly. Quickly. Half-heartedly. Diligently.
Diligence. “Doing something until it is done.”
Oh Father God, help me to see that these action words of teach, observe, occupy, fear, keep, hear, and multiply are not just one-time action words. They are words that have an action without end – for my children, and their children, and their children’s children – to be done with diligence. And Lord, it will be cool when we get there together … just like you promised.