“And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.” (Deuteronomy 6:24)
The Israelites are standing at the edge of the Promised Land. After wondering around the desert for the past forty years and witnessing a generation die off in the wilderness because of their own lack of faith, Israel now stands ready to claim their inheritance. Moses, who has been the humble, and at times unwanted, leader of this great group of people is preparing to give up the commands of leadership to his trusted aid Joshua. Moses, who is failing to enter the Promised Land because of his own sin, is desperately wanting this new generation to learn from the mistakes of their ancestors and to follow God boldly into the land. And so, in his last act of leadership Moses recounts the law, the same message he had received from God at Sinai forty years ago, to this new generation.
He begins with some history, how they got from where they were in Egypt to where they are today. Then he recounts to them the law, beginning with the 10 commandments, helping them to remember the covenant they are blessed to be apart of. At the beginning of chapter six Moses recites the Shema; “Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord alone. Worship the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” He then encourages them to pass these commands onto their children by making them a daily part of life, talked about at all parts of the day, and lived in powerful ways. And as he nears the end of chapter six Moses makes a very bold claim; these commands that the Lord your God has asked you to follow are actually for your good.”
Imagine that, the commands of God are for your good. It’s not just that God has created this random set of laws because he was bored on a Friday night and wanted to come up with something new, they are for our good. This ethical life that God has called us to; a life in which others are placed above ourselves, in which we are called to moral and sexual purity, in which we are commanded to not lie or cheat or steal…this life is actually for our good. God designed this life and called us to it because it’s actually the best way to live. It’s not that God is mean and he just wants us to live his way because he likes making rules. God wants us to live his way because it is the best way to live. Sexual purity is the best way to live. Not lying is the best way to live. Refusing to get angry is the best way to live. Loving your enemy is the best way to live.
But do I believe it? Do I really believe God when he says all of these rules and regulations and this lifestyle are for my good; always for my good? Do I believe that what God is wanting to do in my life is actually for my good? Do I really believe that when I am surrendering my own will to God’s will, when I am sacrificing my desires to honor his, when I am biting my tongue to not respond to the snide remark, when I am turning off the television screen when the sexually suggestive commercial comes on, when I am refusing to listen to gossip, that I’m really living into the best life imaginable for me? Do I really believe that God’s way is really always for good?
In the secular culture that we live in; when political correctness is more important that religious conviction, it is often difficult to live into God’s reality. At times it seems easier to make it in life by hiding our religious beliefs and convictions in order to fit in and not be ostracized. Yet God’s way of life, his ethical demands, really are for our good always. They are the best way to live and create the best outcome for life. May we all have the courage to live out God’s commands because there is no better way to live.