In this passage from Deuteronomy, God makes clear that life and death, blessing and curse, are set before us. Our task in this world is to choose life again and again. The heart of discernment is to recognize that life presents a call to make choices each moment and to follow the life-giving way. This way may be the most challenging work any of us can face. Life is full of ambiguities and ambivalences.
Sometimes we choose what appears to be life but which ultimately is destructive to those involved. Our world has become more complex. Choices even about what we eat each day are connected to a web of issues like pesticides, labor practices, cost to the environment.
The psalmist invites us to walk in the law of God. Walking evokes a sense of embodiment. We don’t merely think about the law of God or apply its principles in the abstract. I am reminded of a line from Antonio Machado’s poem where he suggests that we make the way by walking.* We follow this path step by step, not as a predetermined way but as a call to listen to our life and how it unfolds toward goodness. We allow every tendon and sinew to respond to God’s invitation to love, and we trust that we must continue to walk in that direction.
When we look for rules to follow rather than act from love in all choices, we fall into a legalism that ultimately makes our world smaller. We are invited into the expansive messiness of life that demands discernment and listening and the risk we may be wrong.
*“Proverbios y cantares XXIX” in Campos de Castilla
Giver of Life, help me to choose love each moment of the day. Bless my footsteps so that generations to come may know the grace of life over death. Amen.
This week we continue to explore the importance of Christian morality. We do not earn God’s grace by our actions; rather, our obedience is a response to God’s grace. In Deuteronomy, we read that the choice of life will bring prosperity and is the proper response from a heart of gratitude. The psalmist echoes this sentiment, for blessed are those who follow the Lord not just with words but also with actions. The Corinthians have not understood this so they continue to act like those in the world around them, living by the flesh instead of by the Spirit. Jesus pushes us even further. God sees not only what we do on the outside but who we are on the inside. A true life of obedience begins on the inside and flows outward.
Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20. When have you experienced the choice God sets before us of life or death, prosperity or adversity, blessings or curses? How have you discerned how to obey God?
Read Psalm 119:1-8. How does following God’s commandments bring you joy?
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Consider the forms of love Paul and Saint Valentine display in their letters. What types of love help you serve God, who gives growth?
Read Matthew 5:21-37. When have you experienced legalistic interpretations of scripture? How do you get to the heart of scripture?
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