Deuteronomy 11:26-28 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse— the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Moses did all he could to be as clear as possible. The thing is, though, that God’s truth has to be written on our hearts, and then we have to choose to obey it. Transmission of information about God and what He has said to us is vital, but information by itself accomplishes very little. What matters is what we do with the information we have received. I am reminded of how much information the US had about what Japan was doing before the Pearl Harbor attack, and how that information was largely ignored. People in “Christian” nations generally know the outline of the Gospel at least, but far too few of them apply it to themselves in their daily lives. There is a Japanese phrase in this passage which occurs many times throughout the Bible that translates as “hear and obey,” or “obey hearing.” The thing is, we can’t obey until we have heard, but just hearing isn’t the same as obedience. One problem for the Jews was their pride in having the Law of God, without applying that law to their lives and from their hearts. Many Christians are exactly the same way. The Bible is a valued decoration, but little more. Moses here speaks of a curse for disobedience. It’s not that “God will get you for that,” but that failure to follow God has its automatic consequences, and explaining those as a curse is a clear way to help us understand them. It’s precisely because God is love that He wants us to follow the way that will lead to the greatest blessing for us.
As someone who grew up immersed in the Bible, this couldn’t be more applicable. All of my life I’ve struggled with applying consistently the truth I know. As Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17) As a pastor I struggle with training people to apply the truth that I share with them. One pitfall of having Teacher gifting is that I tend to feel subconsciously that all I should have to do is shovel truth on people for them to receive it and be transformed, but that is seldom the case. I should know that from my own experience! I need to grow in walking alongside people to help them apply the truth that will indeed set them free, to the degree they receive it and make it part of themselves. (John 8:32) Just telling them the truth doesn’t make them know it. Intellectual assent isn’t the same thing as obedience.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the video You led me to last night of the young man who spoke so powerfully of his struggles with doubt after having been raised in church. Thank You for the victory You led him to, for your grace toward him and toward me. My path hasn’t been the same as his, but I’ve been in as much, if not more, danger. Help me remember that each person is unique, but Your grace is sufficient for us all. May I never stop speaking Your truth in love, living it out so that others too may do so, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!