I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.– Hebrew Scriptures, Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV
While on a mission trip in Africa in 2007, I saw a sign posted on the back inside wall of a small village church in Johannesburg, South Africa, that read, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are but small matters compared to what lies within us.”
That posting changed my perspective about many things. I began reflecting on the many times I had allowed others to determine my blessings. And it would appear on the surface that, because of the current bleak economy, blatant lawlessness and political confusion, not many people consider themselves blessed. It seems, rather, that the majority of the people with whom we associate are attitudinally one blessing shy of spiritual and emotional bankruptcy.
Being blessed is that state of mind where things turn out well, regardless of how negative things look. Being blessed is receiving the favor of God in all situations. And being blessed is also a choice that we can make in spite of external circumstances.
The Rev. John G. Butler, longtime pastor and Bible commentator, is known for his affirmations, alliterations and applications of biblical texts and truths. He helps us understand this “blessing” situation with his commentary on the book of Deuteronomy.
Butler says God’s leader Moses reviews three major areas of the Jews’ lives.
First, he reviews the care that Jehovah has given them. It’s the kind of care God has given Israel from the Exodus through the wilderness (in which their shoes and clothes did not wear out in 40 years) to the recent conquering of Sihon and Og and the parceling out of their land to several of the tribes. God took care of them in very difficult times.
Second, Moses reviews the consequences of obedience and the consequences of disobedience by the Israelites. And, then, the consequences of repentance are also reviewed by Moses.
Third, Moses reviews Israel’s choices: “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Israel had two choices: They could obey or disobey. They could be good or evil with the resulting effect of living or dying. We have these same choices today. If it’s to be, it’s really up to each person. It’s our choice.
Now, it must be noted that there are several impediments to receiving God’s choicest blessings:
• Pride, thinking too highly of one’s self
• Partiality, thinking too much of others
• Prejudice, thinking too little of some
• Pacifism, and avoiding needful compassionate conflict
• Passivism, indifference to the need for change
It’s really not that complicated. Just decide to become separated from evil know-it-alls and segregated from corrupt party-goers, gamblers, liars and players. Decide to get saturated in His word, stimulated by His wisdom and satisfied with His ways, renewing your vows, rejoicing in victory and renouncing all evil influences.
Then you will be situated in a place, a spiritual space, where the Lord can constantly feed you with more, protect you from more and provide you with the assurance that you are not better than anyone else but better than you would have been had you not been sanctified for Him.
So, say this prayer: “Lord, I choose life and not death. I choose a relationship with you and not just religion. I choose your revelation to me and do not trust just my reason. When I err, I choose repentance and not resistance. I am fully yours and I know you want to bless me. Amen.”
The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com