Warnings. Lengthy lists of cursing and blessing over matters of disobedience and obedience. Wouldn’t the choice be clear?
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NLT.
Shouldn’t the choice be clear? A choice between life and death–yet actions and attitudes steer on course or off, slight variances that don’t always seem so clear until viewed in hindsight.
I can’t help but squirm a little with a reading that’s all about warnings.
The Lord predicts Israel’s disobedience.
16 The Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17 Then my anger will blaze forth against them. I will abandon them, hiding my face from them, and they will be devoured. Terrible trouble will come down on them, and on that day they will say, ‘These disasters have come down on us because God is no longer among us!’ 18 At that time I will hide my face from them on account of all the evil they commit by worshiping other gods.” Deuteronomy 21:16-18, NLT.
A class discussion on Dante’s circles of hell, The Inferno, a note stands out: “The damned must deliberately harden their hearts to God in order to become damned.” Choice.
Warnings in the New Testament: against hypocrisy, earthly wealth at the cost of a relationship with God, money and possessions.
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12: 29-34, NLT.
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.” Luke 12: 35-38, NLT.
My lengthy lists look more like to-do’s, grocery lists, homework lists, book lists and wish lists. There are other lists too: complaints, wounds, annoyances, regrets.
Lord, help me to put you first at the top of my heart, seeking you and your kingdom. A hardening of the heart is a plaque that builds over time, thoughts and choices that take me off course–the repetition of these things (complaining, disobedience, poor attitude, etc.) makes me adept at them. I want to practice better things. Help me to wait well, dressed for service, ready.