It’s funny how everything I’m reading ties together today. As I’ve been reading through Psalm 119, I am inundated with the truth that God’s Word, his precepts, his testimonies, and his commandments are good, true, helpful and loving. It’s good to remember that when we live in a culture that makes Christianity and even Jesus himself seem irrelevant.
Matthew 5 this morning reminded me that the life Jesus calls me to live is hard. I read it and I think, “This is impossible.” Sure I have my moments when not sinning is easy, but the default is selfishness. The way blessings and relationships work with God are so much different than what I understand.
As I think about everything Matthew 5 says, I’m drawn back to a few verses in Deuteronomy today (30:11-14)
11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
There are a ton of laws. It seems utterly impossible to keep the law to me. But God says that it’s not too hard. He says that they (we) know what to do. The Word had already been brought to the Israelites. They didn’t have to seek out answers; they had them. Directions for living were literally handed to them. He says, “but the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
The words were in their mouths because they were talking about it. God’s laws were the topic of conversation. This makes me think back to Deuteronomy 6:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God wants us to talk about him and about his laws so that we don’t forget! He wants us to keep them in our mouths so that we can pass them on and live by them. We also know that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). How much do I talk about God’s laws? Enough? Is scripture the topic of conversation when I’m with friends? Some of them. Shouldn’t He be what I talk about most? I’m not talking about being self-righteous and talking about how well I’m keeping these laws (because I’ll tell you, I’m not keeping them well). I’m talking about simply talking about Jesus in a real way, talking about his heart, my struggles, his grace, etc.
This passage in Deuteronomy 30 also encourages me to hide his Word in my heart. He says that if his Word is in my mouth and my heart that I can do it. I have to let what I say sink into my heart if that’s not where it’s coming from. I mean that if I’m speaking from an overflow of my heart, that’s great. That’s how it should be. But sometimes we have to say what we know to be true even when we don’t feel it. So I need to let what I say travel down to my heart and make its home there.
I’m amazed that he says we can do it. The key is letting the truth be spoken and believed. My challenge is to pay attention to what I’m saying. Does it point back to the Word? Does what comes out of my mouth match what’s in my heart? When I excuse my sins because not sinning is hard, am I giving up too easily? I need to check myself, starting with my mouth and my heart.
Photo Credit: Claire Heely