Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the Lord, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish.” (Dt 30:15-18a)
As a people, we often bargain. We learn at a young age that we can get someone else’s possession if we trade something of ours. Later, we come to learn that we can trade other things as well, i.e. promises, favors, and other tangible and intangible things. We even learn that bargaining, dickering, and almost fighting works in certain situations. In all of this, we get what we want.
That is why we often become uncomfortable in our relationship with God. There is no bargaining with God. There is no dickering. There is no threatening. God is God and we can do nothing to change that. We need to learn to “play by His rules.”
God’s commandments are not burdensome if we embrace them in the manner in which they were intended. They were, after all, given not to enslave a people but to make a people more free. When we follow the commandments, we free ourselves up from the bondage of sin and live as God’s people. Living as God’s people, we find it easier to love, to forgive, and to be examples of God’s love in our world.
Isn’t that what we really want?
Oh, sure, there are all sorts of things that we can put on our desired list. We want plenty of things in life. We want plenty of people in our lives. However, that is thinking in the short term. We need to remember that we have to have our eyes set on the long term as well: heaven.
If we are to have any chance of living in heaven with God at the end of our days, we have to live by God’s commands rather than have Him acquiesce to our plans. It all comes down to choice. God does not force us to accept His commands. He never has and He never will. God gave us the gift of free will so that we can make all of our choices on our own.
The choice is ours today, just as Moses delineated so long ago: embrace the Lord and live or embrace other gods and perish.
FAITH ACTION: Examine your thoughts, your speech, and your actions. Do you wholeheartedly keep the commandments of God? If not, make a plan to change.