“When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12
It’s easy to pray when life is tough, when someone is sick, when finances are not where we need them to be, when physical pain is present every day, and when there is so much hurt around us that we don’t know where to turn. There will always be good seasons and stressful seasons in life, sometimes it seems like the good season will never come. If we are smart as Christians we will turn to God for help when we are in despair and cry out to Him to save us. But what about when things are good, when we get a good doctor report, when no one in our family is sick, when our finances more than cover our bills and even that boat we really wanted?
The Israelites had quite the “season” in captivity in Egypt, in fact many generations worth. The time of suffering eventually did end through God’s use of Moses to lead them out, but then they were faced with 40 years in the wilderness. Even through the grumbling and complaining, God was faithful and brought them into the “Land flowing with milk and honey.” The Promised Land was within sight and God shared the cautionary words with the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 through Moses.
This precaution came right after God had given them the instruction in verse 5 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” IF the Israelites simply kept this commandment, there would be no need for the warning about forgetting God! Loving the Lord with all your heart does not leave the option for forgetting the very God you love, right?
The problem with the Israelites and with us today comes from our affluence. We enjoy the gifts so much that we forget the Giver. The word in verse 12 for forget in Hebrew is “shakach” which can mean “to be oblivious from.” We have a problem when things are going well, that we are just oblivious to God. We don’t make a cognizant effort to say, “As of today in my great wealth, I forget God and all He is!” (Sarcasm implied). This obliviousness comes out of not having a strong relationship with God. If you have a strong relationship with your spouse you will cling to each other during traumatic events in your life and you will grow together in times of joy and abundance.
In work, especially business or commission based sales, there is a constant focus assessing your performance by “what have you done for me lately?” I often think back to successes I had a year, two, or five ago and how awesome it was and how much my boss should remember those accomplishments, but that’s not how it works.
Unfortunately as Christians, we think of God in the same way and ask (subliminally), “what have you done for me lately, God?” We have the danger of looking at our success at work, at home, or even at church or in ministry as what “we” accomplished in our own effort and strength. God is not something to be tossed aside when our perceived need of Him is no more.
Let me be clear here, God does NOT have to prove Himself to us… at any time. The gift of salvation He gave us which was more than we ever deserved, is enough for us to be devoted to Him for the rest of our life, with no strings attached.
With that said, I do believe, as Jesus states in Matthew 7:11, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” These gifts are not requirements but things our Father wants to bless us with because He loves His creation.
We foolishly look at our own life as something we have created, or built, or worked hard for. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 8:17-18, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant…” Ouch, so my hard work and my abilities are from God? Absolutely.
God gives us the strength in our being, He gives us the breath in our lungs, and He blesses us with good things. God is still on His throne through good times and bad, He does need to answer to us for why something happens. We must have a relationship with God that is substantial enough to last through any hill or valley we face. Follow God for who He is, the pure, omnipotent, loving Savior who desires a relationship with us and who gave us the best gift we will ever receive.
Discerning Reflection: How strong is my relationship with Jesus through the good times vs. bad? Do I pray daily even when I don’t need something? How can I not take for granted my blessings, but thank God for them?
Prayer: Lord, help me to see your hand in my life and be thankful for everything you have given me. Help me not be prideful of my own accomplishments and think they are accomplished apart from you. Keep me humble and reliant on your grace and love every day. Amen.
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