- October 4, 2023
- Posted by: Carolyn Mahal
- Category: Devotions
“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. – Deuteronomy 8:11-20
I like the TV show M*A*S*H. There were 251 episodes of the show, and I am certain that over the years I have seen them all multiple times. I liked the show in its early years – before the writing and the focus became more political. But even after it jumped the shark, the show was still one of my favorites.
The character of Hawkeye Pierce was the biggest politician on the show. In several episodes, he took his angst out upon President Harry S. Truman by writing him a letter. One of these episodes featured a letter with a simple question: “Who’s responsible?” In that instance, Hawkeye wanted to know why they were in Korea. The letter caused a stir, Hawkeye got in trouble, but he was able to escape the consequences and live not so happily ever after. A bit corny and contrived, but what TV show isn’t after that many years on the air?
Who’s responsible is a question that many people ask in their daily lives. Who is responsible for the things going on in my life? Look at society as a whole and you see so many people jockeying to take responsibility for certain things and working equally hard to deflect it for others. It’s like a moral game of hot potato.
Who came up with that great idea? I did!
Who made them so angry? Uh, that was him!
But it goes beyond the simple day-to-day problems. When a lady can set a cup of hot coffee between her legs while driving, hit a bump, burn her lap and win a lawsuit against McDonald’s because they didn’t warn her that the coffee was hot – that’s absurd. When a man can attempt suicide by jumping in front of a New York subway train, fail, and then sue the city and win millions of dollars in a settlement – that’s absurd. Fewer people today want to take responsibility for what they do and those who are strong enough to be responsible end up taking so much blame for what happens around them, they often buckle and decide it’s not worth it. And then we wonder where our leaders have gone.
Deuteronomy 8:11-20 speaks to all groups. To those people who look to take credit for everything they can, God reminds them who is ultimately responsible for everything we receive. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, provided for them in the wilderness, established them in the promised land and made provision to give them every good thing (verse 13 provides a glimpse of what God had in store for His people). But what did the people have to do? They needed to remember who was responsible. God is clear in verses 17-18, “You may say to yourself, ‘my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
So, when this breaks down, who is responsible? The answer is obvious, but because of our sinful pride, it is hard to accept. The leaders had to remind themselves that it was God who would continue to provide for the people victory in battle, nourishment for their bodies, and direction for their lives. Their role was to follow that leading. Following the commands of God then fell upon every member of the nation of Israel. The leaders couldn’t blame their obedience issues on the people, the people couldn’t blame their struggles on the poor decisions of the leaders.
We too must understand that while it is not easy to do, we must silence our own desires to take credit for what isn’t ours. We also need to be willing to take responsibility for what truly is ours, even if it’s not that desirable. Thankfully, we turn to God for the strength to do that as well. God is big that way. Relying upon Him can be hard, but it is rewarding to those who put their trust in His commands.
*Used with permission
Devotion by Richard Schumacher
Senior Director of Operations