Moses asked the Israelites an interesting question: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
The answer to the question, of course, is: “Nothing.”
God doesn’t ask for anything else, because he’s already asked for EVERYTHING. What more could you ask for than complete and unreserved fear, obedience, love, and service? What’s left after that?
That might seem like a big ask, if it weren’t for the last phrase: “for your own good.”
We’re tempted to think that God asks us to obey His commands for His own good...
...as if God needed our obedience.
...as if God were on a power trip, throwing his weight around.
...as if God were dependent on us.
...as if God got a kick out of giving orders and being obeyed.
No, God gives us his commands for our good. Moses follows up this question by giving some reasons why fearing, obeying, loving, and serving God are for our own good (and just make sense).
1) God is the Creator, and we are part of His creation. He made us, so it follows that He knows what is best for us. (v. 14).
2) God chose us to belong to Him, not because we deserved it but because He loved us. Such a God can be trusted. (v. 15)
3) God isn’t like the other so-called “gods,” whom you can bribe or manipulate to your will. The one, true God is all powerful and will judge impartially. It’s far better to submit to His ways. (vv. 16-17)
4) God is good. He is just and kind. Like Him, His commands are good, just, and kind. His commands reveal who He is. He doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done. (vv. 18 – 19)
5) God saved us from bondage and gave us freedom. His commands don’t make us a slave again. They keep us free. They lead to life. (vv. 20-22)
We live in a culture that considers the greatest evil to be any restrictions or limitations on the right of the individual to express what he or she feels. The fancy word for such thinking is antinomian (Greek anti, “against”; nomos, “law”). The antinomian believes that resistance to all social, religious, and moral norms is for our own good.
Except it never turns out that way.
Saying “Yes” to all our desires is easy, but it lands us in slavery. It’s not for our own good.
Saying “Yes” to God’s commands is often the harder choice, but it leads to freedom. It’s for our own good.
May God give us grace by His Spirit to choose His ways for our own good.