Why the warning?
“Take heed and be diligent not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen. As long as you live, do not let them pass from your memory but teach them to your children and to your grandchildren.” – Deuteronomy 4:9
The most obvious takeaway from this passage is that grandparents have a responsibility to pass on their faith to their children and grandchildren. This is the action step God gives us just as he gave it to his people as they passed through the wilderness. He was speaking to the grandparents, none of whom except Joshua and Caleb would live to enter the promised land. God desired that their children and grandchildren would be of good courage, strong in their faith, and prepared to conquer the land they had been promised. He wanted them to know what had happened to grandpa and grandma at the Red Sea.
But don’t skip over the first line of the passage!
God starts by saying “Take heed and be diligent!” Why does he say that to these grandparents? It’s probably because giving up is a common temptation as we age. Imagine the thoughts running through the minds of these grandparents: “For forty years we have been wandering in the wilderness…and all for what?”
Although God’s desire is for them to take action by passing on their faith, he starts by addressing their mindset.
He says, “Take heed,” which means be careful. (Heed comes from the German word “hut,” from which we get the word “hat.” Thus, to “take heed” meant to cover your head, to be careful, or to guard your mind!) So God says, “be careful, be diligent, be mindful.”
Why was God so insistent about this, and how does it apply to us now?
In short, as we get older we can get discouraged. We can look at our circumstances–whether it’s 40 years in the wilderness or 40 years in the world of today–and quickly lose hope. We can look at our growing weakness and sigh in frustration and defeat. Or we can choose to “take heed” and “be diligent!”
According to God, the first battle you must win is with your own mind.
For discussion: Are you winning the mindset battle?
For action: How can we help each other maintain the right mindset?
Mike Shaughnessy is the founder of Grandly and lives in Lansing, Michigan.
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