Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NIV, 1978)

In this passage that focuses on the Shema, the great foundational teaching of the Hebrew people, Moses not only brings attention to one of the greatest commands of obedience in all of Scripture, but he establishes it as a basic principle of life that is to be communicated from one generation to the next. Was it taught in the synagogues? Of course. The intent, however, was that it was be communicated in a more personal manner through the unique history and experience of family. No two families are the same and neither are their stories of God’s provision. That’s what makes this passage special.

Many of us were the beneficiaries of great legacies of faith. We loved Jesus and trusted in God before we were old enough to know that we could—simply because those we loved believed for us—until we had the evidence to believe for ourselves. So, when it became our turn, we took our kids to church and prayed with them at night until they understood that they could trust Jesus on their own.

It’s been more than ten years ago when I heard one of my favorite pastors say in a Sunday morning message, “What one generation does in moderation the next will do in excess.” To be honest, I have all too frequently interpreted that statement to refer to the behaviors, habits or addictions that have exploded in recent generations. Perhaps it’s not what the generations have done, but rather, what they have not done? I wonder if somewhere we simply forgot to “impress them on our children” because we took God’s goodness for granted. Or, even worse, our families became too busy to sit, walk, lie down, or get up and notice His blessings clearly in front of us.

If this generation doesn’t, the next generation won’t.