First Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-8

The Pride and Burden of God's Law

1 Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and to the ordinances, which I teach you, to do them; that you may live, and go in and possess the land which YHWH, the God of your fathers, gives you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you.

6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who shall hear all these statutes, and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." 7 For what great nation is there, that has a god so near to them, as YHWH our God is whenever we call on him? 8 What great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you today?

Have you ever pondered, "how do foreigners judge us as a people?" We Americans stand tall not only for the quality and diversity of our people; we proudly proclaim our ideals. Remember the opening lines from the Declaration of Independence. We hold that God created everyone equal and gave them inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Foreigners hold us to that ideal. They judge us based upon that standard.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the people of the great gift God had given them in the Law. His ordinances were a point of pride and a burden. Israelites could crow about the Torah only to the extent that they held true to it. They shouldn't modify it for the sake of convenience. They shouldn't ignore it to gain advantage. The Law defined them as a people. It declared YHWH as their God and Israel as His servants.

As American Christians, we cling to our identity as free individual who chose to follow a Jewish Messiah. Our choice defines our identity and implicitly gives others a yardstick to measure us. If we hold fast to that identity, we will be found worthy and influence others, even as they point to us as examples. And, who knows, they might even join us.

How have you obeyed God's will this week? How have you given others good example?