But watch yourself! Don’t forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commands or his case laws or his regulations that I am commanding you right now. When you eat, get full, build nice houses, and settle down, and when your herds and your flocks are growing large, your silver and gold are multiplying, and everything you have is thriving, don’t become arrogant, forgetting the Lord your God:
the one who rescued you from Egypt, from the house of slavery; the one who led you through this vast and terrifying desert of poisonous snakes and scorpions, of cracked ground with no water; the one who made water flow for you out of a hard rock; the one who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your ancestors had never experienced, in order to humble and test you, but in order to do good to you in the end.
Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me. Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now. But if you do, in fact, forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, serving and bowing down to them, I swear to you right now that you will be completely destroyed.
When in your life have you felt closest to God? Take a moment and consider that before reading on.
Most likely, you’ll remember a time when things were difficult – a time of struggle with a decision, a relationship, a health challenge, or with your finances. If you think a bit harder, you may realize that you drew closer to God because you had nowhere else to turn.
Deuteronomy’s place in the scriptures is as a kind of last testament of Moses – final words before he hands leadership over to Joshua and passes on. The people of Israel stand on the cusp of entering the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness, being rootless for decades.
On the eve of success, Moses recognizes a danger. He fears that settling down, the absence of crisis, and material success will tempt people to forget God. He’s not wrong.
The challenge of success is in thinking, “I did this all myself.” When things are going well – when you’re comfortable and successful – faith doesn’t seem so important. Scripture calls that arrogance – the arrogance of forgetting the one who got you to where you are.
For Pondering & Prayer
Earlier you reflected on times you felt particularly close to God. What about times when you felt disconnected from God? Is there a pattern to the ebb and flow of your spiritual life?
Another important way of cultivating humility is through gratitude. Who are some of the people who have helped you become who you are? Who has mentored and encouraged you along the way? Say a prayer of thanksgiving or, better yet, reach out to them to say thanks!