I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy (yes, on purpose!) about Moses’ long speech to the Israelites before they’re to finally enter the Promised Land. He reminds them what God has done in the past and what kind of behaviour God expects in the future.
What strikes me is the intent behind the litany of dos and don’ts: it’s not about following the rules, it’s about the Israelites’ lifestyle being a sign to the people around them. They’re to show how God designed humans to function, and how well He looks after those who trust Him.
Although the Old Testament proclaims Israel as God’s chosen people, it gives clear instruction to welcome the stranger and the alien and to allow them to learn about God.
The Pharisees got it wrong with their legalism. From the beginning, God asked for wholehearted love and obedience rather than rigidity. Peter had a handle on this when he wrote that we’re to live prepared to give an answer for the hope within us – we’re to live so that people can see we’re different.
What does it mean for us today?
- legalism is not the way
- personal holiness: not “I don’t do that” in a judgmental way, but “I do this because I love God”
- taking seriously what He says
- personal times alone with Him, again out of love and perceived need rather than performance or “earning points”
- care for the person who doesn’t see his/her need, because God does see the need
We need to live mindfully according to His ways, secure in the knowledge that He is powerful, good, and able to care for us. Deuteronomy 23:20b is one of many illustrations of Moses’ theme: live God’s way so that we don’t block the blessings God wants to give – for our sakes and for the sakes of those who see us.
I’m really struck by how much God wants to give, and I wonder how much we miss by our own choices and actions.
There is a lot of misrepresentation out there of who God is – what his character is and what he expects of us. We don’t measure up – that’s right – but there is a REMEDY! A remedy born out of the selfless heart of God that is hopelessly bent on redemption and restoration…
Thanks for this Janet. I’m loving him this morning too. Woefully inadequately in comparison to what he is worthy of, but oh, I’m loving him!
What a great post. Yes that is exactly what He wants of us. Why can’t we remember that – we don’t have to do, He will do what He wants in us if we just let hIm.
“Live God’s way so we don’t block the blessings. . .” That’s great motivation. What a thought. Lord, I want to live your way, for the sake of your kingdom and for my own sake too.
How I wish more people would understand the love of God the way you have shown it here. So many reject God because they view Him as judgmental, when they see “Christians” being judgmental — or, at least, that is how they choose to view the demonstrated precepts of God. Human reasoning can really complicate things that don’t need to get complicated. The simple truth is that God is good, God is love — and we can have peace and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
How we do complicate the simple truth!