Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 25:14-30; Romans 12:1-8; Psalm 71; Deuteronomy 5-7
Deuteronomy 5 repeats that great summary of biblical ethics, the Ten Commandments. It also provides the general structure for much of the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. Although the later chapters will at times seem to be a disorganised collection of rules and cases, scholars have shown that the book is highly structured. The basic pattern is that Deuteronomy 5-26 elaborates on the Ten Commandments in the same order as they are presented in chapter 5.
We begin with the first commandment, to worship no other gods but God. Worship is also addressed in our New Testament reading in Romans 12:1-2, to which we will return. Moses elaborates on the first commandment in Deuteronomy 6-11, probably most clearly in 6:5 when he declares, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus was to repeat these words as the first and greatest of the commandments (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). To worship God is to devote every aspect of our lives to him and to his glory. It is not simply a matter of turning to him once or twice a week and singing his praises. Romans 12:1 states that worship means presenting our whole lives to God as a sacrifice. What we think, what we say, what we do is given to God to use as he sees fit.
Why should we do this? Moses introduced the Ten Commandments by reminding the people of Israel that God first rescued them from slavery. They were not chosen because of anything great in themselves, but rather because God first loved them (Deu 7:7-8). In response to God’s love and salvation, they were called to obey his commandments. And if they did, their lives would prosper. The same applies to us. Out of gratitude for what God has done in our lives, we should be willing to follow his guidance. This begins in the mind, by renewing our thinking. We do this by learning God’s precepts and judgments. These should become so familiar to us that we talk about them as we sit at home, go walking together, and when our children ask us about them (Deu 6:6-9, 20).
Jesus also said that the first commandment leads into the second: to love others. Much of the rest of Deuteronomy elaborates on specific instances of this. Paul does likewise in the rest of Romans 12, which we will examine tomorrow.