In today's passage, Moses reminds the children of Israel to be humble and recognize that God's blessing of the Promised Land is not a result of anything they have done but is solely by grace. He explicitly tells them, "You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity" (Dt 6.5 CSB). In fact, he continues, "Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God in the wilderness. You have been rebelling against the LORD from the day you left the land of Egypt until you reached this place" (v 7). There must be no mistake. Israel was not delivered because of their own merit, their own goodness, or their own will. On the contrary, they stumbled over and over and over, transgressing the commandments of God repeatedly.
Sound familiar? It should. The story of Israel is our story, too.
St. Paul picks up on this in 1 Corinthians when he writes, "These things happened to [Israel] as examples, and they were written for our instruction...so, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall" (1 Cor 11.11-12 CSB). We must never think of our redemption, salvation, justification, sanctification, or any blessing as anything we have earned or deserve. On the contrary, we deserve nothing but condemnation for our sinfulness and heart-heartedness. Such a message is very unpopular in our therapeutic culture with its aversion to the mere mention of personal wrongdoing. Though we thrive on pointing out the wrongdoing of others and revel in shaming others via news or social media, we refuse to look inward and admit our own guilt. Certainly it is easier to concentrate on others' sins than to wrestle with our own, but the Bible will not let us think that anything good we have is anything but a gift...in spite of ourselves.
May the mercy and grace we have received from Christ lead us our knees in thanksgiving and cause us to grant mercy and grace to others!