Deuteronomy 4:1-20; Luke 6:39-49; Psalms 68:7-18; Proverbs 17:12-13
OT: “Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to follow, so that you may live, enter, and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you… Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today? Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 5-9 CSB)
Deuteronomy means “second law.” It is a retelling of the Law to the new generation of Israelites that are about to enter the land that God promised to them. 40 years had past since the Israelites had left Egypt. The generation of Israelites that had rebelled against God had all passed away in the wilderness (all except Joshua and Caleb). Moses was 120 years old and was nearing the end of his days. Deuteronomy was Moses final opportunity to communicate God’s commands to his people before he died, Joshua took over, and the nation began to take the promise that was given to them. What is Moses’ main concern? He wanted to make sure this nation listened to God’s commandments, followed them, and taught them to the generations to come. The key to taking possession of the land and fully enjoying the abundance of the land was to carefully follow the statutes and ordinances that we given by God so that God would remain near. The key to continuously remaining in the blessing and favor of the Lord was to diligently keep watch over and guard their hearts and minds from the intrusion of other gods and cultures, and to teach the generations to come.
NT: “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the beam of wood in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the splinter in your brother’s eye. A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit… A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.” (Luke 6:41-43, 45-49 CSB)
Right after Jesus taught His disciples to not judge (condemn) but instead be merciful and forgiving, He went on to say that we are to judge between right and wrong – and we are to help our brothers become free from their sin, not condemn them for it. In order for us to be able to accurately help others get free, we must first make sure we are free. We need to honestly take a look at the fruit our lives are producing to make sure we are producing good fruit. For how can we graciously help someone get free from their entanglements, if we are producing bad fruit? Not judging doesn’t mean that we stop identifying good and evil, righteous and sinful. We are to do that, but we are to do so in a loving and gracious way… and definitely not in a hypocritical way. How are we able to do that? We must make sure that we aren’t just hearing God’s words and intending to follow them, instead of actually following them. Intention is not the same thing as action. If we aren’t applying the Lord’s words to our lives and actually following the things He says, then He really isn’t our lord and we really aren’t His followers. Having a rock-solid, unshakeable, uncompromised life requires applying and doing the words of the Lord first to our lives. Then we will have a solid foundation to stand on and can accurately and graciously help others to find the same freedom and stability that we have found.