“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today” – Deuteronomy 8:1
This morning while reading Scripture, I had one of those times when I intended to read an entire chapter, but couldn’t get out of the first verse. In fact, I didn’t even finish the first verse. All I saw was, Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today. And what struck me hard was the word “today.”
Yes, I know that this chapter is referring to all the commands that God gave the children of Israel. However, there are still those commands that God is giving me for today which apply only for today.
I’ve often found that God will bring a sense to my spirit that something significant is going to happen and I need to be ready for it. Sometimes, He indicates that I need to be ready to encourage someone. And sure enough, He will bring someone across my path that needs just such a word.
Other times, I’ll have a sense that I’ll need to show an extra amount of patience or love. One time I was called to minister at a small church. Before I arrived there, I sensed God speak to my spirit. “Jim, be careful with these people, for they are the least of these.” And I knew exactly what God was saying. He was warning me that these people were the like those in Matthew 25 – hungry, thirsty, sick and in prison. They were the type of people our society overlooks, for we’re too busy following the next American Idol or whatever beautiful or handsome person is the talk of the week. I knew I could have harmed them with my words if I wasn’t careful, and God was telling me that the way I treated them would be the way I treated Him. It is God’s word today that I am still conscious of keeping.
However, there is another aspect of the word “today” that bothers me. Sometimes I tend to choose which commandments I’m going to obey today and which ones I’ll put off until a more convenient time. Patience can be one of those commands. I know I’m not supposed to lose my cool with that person who is really getting under my skin, but at this point, I’d rather ask forgiveness than permission. And after the incident is over, is it any wonder God remains silent?
This passage reminds me that I need to live more carefully than I ever have before. As I grow older and my area of influence in people’s lives grows wider, I must remind myself to put away childish things. What the Lord tolerated from Jim a few years ago is not something He tolerates today. Today He is commanding me to obey all His commandments, not just some of them. The blessings promised by God are contingent on my acceptance of all of His Word, necessitating I view Scripture as if all of it is a single, integrated command. For there is only one God and one Word, who is Christ, “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Today I have heard have heard His voice, and I will not harden my heart (Psalm 95:8).