“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13 NKJV)
Subtlety was not a teaching strategy when I was growing up. At home, my parents never “beat around the bush” when telling us exactly what was expected of us. In school, the teachers did not mince words when it came to making their expectation for behavior clear. Noncompliance was not an option.
As I read Deuteronomy 28:13 recently, I remembered a former teacher’s words to us: “If you do not listen and follow directions, you will always wind up being the cow’s tail. The cow’s tail is always last.” That made an impression on me. I had no desire to be the cow’s tail, so I resolved to listen and be obedient. Besides, I loved my teacher and wanted to please her. Love always spills over into obedience.
In the Scriptures, God does not mince words. He is not concerned about our fragile egos or worried that we might take offence. His desire is not to harm us, but to prosper us and to save us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Therefore, clarity and honesty are of the utmost importance.
In the tradition of Deuteronomy, Jesus was also clear. He said: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21 NIV)
On the other hand, He says: “Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24 NIV) True, lasting and whole-hearted obedience always hinges on love and respect.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
You are I AM. We love, respect and fear you with reverent awe. Thank you for loving us enough to send Jesus to pull us out of the dark pit of sin and into the light of your presence. We love you, because you first loved us and revealed to us what we must do to be saved. Today we make pleasing you our top priority.
In the name of Jesus, who is the head of the church and Savior of the body,