So You Think It’s Because of You…

We humans are curious beings indeed. You would think that after everything the Israelites had gone through, they would realize that the Lord was bringing them into the Promised Land not because of how wonderful and great they were. All the sins, failures, and miseries of 40 years in the wilderness would seem enough to cure anybody of self-righteousness. In spite of all of this, however, Moses deems it necessary to remind the Israelites that God had His own reasons for bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Take a look at this passage in Deuteronomy 9:

1 “Listen, Israel: Today you are about to cross the Jordan to go and drive out nations greater and stronger than you, [with] large cities fortified to the heavens. 2 The people are strong and tall, the descendants of the Anakim. You know about them and you have heard it said about them, ‘Who can stand up to the sons of Anak?’ 3 But understand that today the Lord your God will cross over ahead of you as a consuming fire; He will devastate and subdue them before you. You will drive them out and destroy them swiftly, as the Lord has told you. 4 When the Lord your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, the Lord will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness. 5 You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, the Lord your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

When I take another moment to think about what God is saying here, it doesn’t surprise me that much that Moses is giving this warning. After all, who else did God do all these miracles for? Which other people did God ever lead out of slavery into a land that was not their own? Who else has God promised to protect, deliver, and prosper as long as they follow His commands? Who else has He given His Law to? I imagine it would be very easy to begin to think that it was because they were so righteous that God did all of this. They needed a reminder that it wasn’t because of them at all.
Isn’t it funny how we can laugh at the Israelites for the stupid attitudes they display and the sins they commit and then turn around and do the same things ourselves? Corinthians does not say for nothing that all these things were recorded for our example! How often have I not thought that it is because of my righteousness that God has brought me here? The thought constantly lurks in the bushes that the reason God has anointed me to lead worship must be because of how wonderful and spiritual I am. Thankfully, God brings me back to reality time and time again and keeps reminding me it is because of His grace and for His glory, not because of anything I have done or anything I am in and of myself. 
I am fairly convinced I am not alone in this. Nothing is easier than to forget that who I am now and where I have come from has nothing to do with how good I am, how applaudable my actions, or how gracious my attitudes have been. In a world that praises people who make something of themselves, we as Christians do well to be radically different and remember daily that it is all Christ – from the beginning to the very end and everything in between. All we are, all we have been rescued from, all God has done, is doing, and will do in and through us is all and only because of His grace and His mercy, because of Christ, and for the glory of His Name. 
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