Gifts you did not earn: thoughts on Deuteronomy 6

The first chapter in my plan to meditate on scripture is Deuteronomy 6. The gist of the passage is that the people of Israel are being reminded of the law before they enter the Promised land after 40 years of wandering in the desert. For several days I read through the chapter multiple times using different versions: New Living Translation, NASB, Amplified Bible, etc.

A few years ago Larry Warner taught me to meditate on scripture by reading a passage and then identifying the portions that I felt resistance to or that I felt particularly drawn to. Through this technique, I’ve seen God use scripture to radically transform my perspective of who He is, who I am and who others are. As a teenager I was actively involved in inductive Bible studies through Precept ministries. One of my favorite techniques from those studies was (and still is) identifying keywords and themes that repeat throughout a passage. As I mentioned recently, my perspective on the Gospel has been radically changed as a result of several books written by Elise Fitzpatrick. She challenges readers to look at passages in terms of who God is instead of what we’re supposed to do. One thing she said has stuck with me. The paraphrase is: in our quest for godliness have we left God behind?

So I’ve started my reading/meditation with these 3 things in mind: looking for what a passage says about God instead of just identifying “action items,” looking for keywords, and listening for what resonated in my soul (whether positive or negative).

And what stuck out to me was the phrase “which you did not” in verses 10-12: “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities which you did not build, And houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, Then beware lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

As the Old Testament story continues it is clear that the Israelites did in fact forget the God that gave them all these things that they did not build, fill, hew or plant. Which made me wonder why God gave them these things since they simply took for granted. Why does He graciously give any of us anything? Day after day He gives me things that I did not work for; He has graciously provided job after job that I didn’t apply for, He has brought so many mentors into my life, He has provided not one, but two families, to allow me to live with them rent-free during tough times. My life is filled with things that I have been given that I did not earn. I am afraid that I will forget the Lord. I also proudly think, “there’s no way I could forget who He is and what He’s done.”

And that’s where it became apparent how quickly I take a portion of scripture and drill straight into action items. (i.e. I need to make sure I don’t forget the Lord.) What does this say about the Lord? He gives abundantly. He fulfills His promises (Deut 6:23).

What do you think? What has God given you that you did not earn?

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