“After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he sower to your others, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)
To encourage good behavior, my son Paxton has a sticker-chart. Whenever he does something good, he is rewarded with a sticker. If he is kind to his brother Barkley and shares, then he gets a sticker. From a young age, we are programmed to believe that we should REAP what we sow. The Bible says this, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) Thus is the law of the Bible, and also the law of nature.
Yet, we fall into a dangerous trap when we begin to see ourselves as DESERVING of a certain kind of life, thing, or reward. When we begin to believe that we are entitled to riches, success, or luxuries or when we begin to believe that our righteousness buys us certain privileges, we become focused on self and lose sight of God’s grace.
Paxton has reminded me that many times our human spirit misleads us to believe we are “owed” certain privileges or even normality in life. Perhaps we believe we are owed a certain kind of upbringing, family, journey, or job. It is in these moments where we believe that we are “owed” something that our pride sets in and dishes us the lie that it was not God’s Grace that saved us in the first place, but our own “hard-work, righteousness, merit, or good-works.” The thanklessness of the Israelites proves to us over and over again that our human spirit needs this DIRE reminder over and over again. We have all been saved by the grace of God and our harvest was subject to God’s grace. HE provided the rain, the sun, and the good soil. HE provided the rich fertile grounds. In truth, we are still subject to his mercies day in and day out, and to remain thankful, we must grasp that the land we now possess was never our own in the first place. We were never “owed” anything, but given the land and LIFE by God’s gracious LOVE. To understand what we were truly “owed,” look to the cross. We deserved death on the cross, but an undeserving Jesus took it for us. He took our sins upon Himself and graciously took what we deserved.