I once enjoyed mowing the church lawn for two reasons: (1) for a whole hour no one would bother me, and (2) at the end of that hour I could look back at the neatly trimmed lawn and think: “I did that.”
Of course if I though for a moment or two about cutting the lawn I would realize that I did not really do it all by myself. The congregation provided gas and maintenance for the mower so it was ready each week. And a team of engineers and technicians and others actually assembled that mower. And I had done nothing for the growing of the grass, neither planting the seed, watering, or fertilizing, merely the mowing and that only most weeks. I had not provided the ground under the grass nor the sunshine. While I deserved to be proud of the nice straight even rows I had mowed, there were many other people and especially God who participated in giving that lawn its polished appearance.
Moses had feared that the people of Israel would make similar false assumptions, that the promised land was not God’s gift to them, but the result of their toil.
When you have eaten your fill and have built your fine houses and live in them, … and all that you have has multiplied, then to not exult yourself forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, … Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth …
— Deuteronomy 8:12-18 (NRSV)
I will have more to say about Deuteronomy 8:7-18 at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 26th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor