Monday, October 26, 2015

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Believing, Behaving and Becoming

KEY TEXT: Deut 6:4-9 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

KEY THOT: The heart of the Law is summarized in verses 4 & 5: that “the Lord (Yahweh) our God, the Lord is one.” One is used here not only in the sense of unitary but more so in the sense of being unique—the one and only. So, because Yahweh is uniquely one and only, Moses commanded Israel to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” The three-dimensional aspect of the human personality is implied: with “all your heart” (spirit), “all your soul” (soul), and “all your strength” (body). In other words, we cannot separate our “spiritual life” from other aspects of our daily life. We don’t put on our “spiritual” hat on the weekends when we go to church and put on our “secular” hat on weekdays when we return to our homes, schools and offices. Our soul (mind, will and emotions) are to be fully engaged to love God and so is our physical being. It is not biblical to talk about developing our “spiritual life” that is apart from our thought life, our personal habits and our social and work relationships. 

That is why Moses further instructed parents to teach God’s word to their children—not just on Sundays in church, but daily in the homes: you “shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It should also govern what we do with our hands (“as a sign on your hand”), how we think (“as frontlets between your eyes”) and as we go out from our homes into the world (“on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”). Greek education focuses on acquiring knowledge but Hebrew education focuses on the use of knowledge in daily life (wisdom). The goal of Hebrew education is not just developing the ability to think. But more importantly developing the ability to do. For it’s in the doing that our character is formed and ultimately transformed. 

Right believing produces right behaving; and right behaving produces right becoming. Biblical faith is believing, behaving and becoming. Believing is the start of our faith journey, not the end. The end point is becoming and this is possible only when we start behave according to what we say we believe. If we say we believe (“I trust God”), but behave differently (constantly feeling stressed and anxious) then our behaviour reveals we don’t really believe. But if we truly believe, our behavior shows and ultimately we become what we believe. Moses instructed Israel to behave according to God’s commands so that they may translate their profession (believing) into possession (becoming): “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly.”

As an introvert, I’m more likely to focus on thinking about issues than doing them. But I’ve begun to realize that God’s word remains academic facts (knowledge) until they are put into practice when they become experiential truths (wisdom). The more I step out in obedience, the more I transform what I am believing into who I am becoming. Moses did not just instruct the Israelites to believe the commands but to behave accordingly with the goal of becoming a holy nation, a special people in the midst of pagan nations. So, also I must not be content with believing God’s word: I must behave accordingly to its precepts and principles in order that I may become the person God wants to become—like Jesus Christ Himself.

Father, what glorious commands You have given us in Your word. Your word is no longer burdensome to us because You have given us Your Spirit to enable and empower us to behave according to what we believe that we might become like Jesus. Amen.

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