When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
Do you know the difference between sedatives and stimulants? A sedative is designed to “take the edge off” and help you fall asleep. A stimulant is designed to “sharpen the edge” and keep you going and going and going. I want to share a story with you about a time when God’s people allowed past blessings to act like a sedative rather than a stimulant. God’s people allowed themselves to be sedated into a sense of sinful, self-centered security, rather than stimulated into a season of sold-out, Savior-centered service.
After Israel spent more than 400 years in bondage in Egypt, God sent His servant Moses to deliver His people from slavery. God used a series of miracles to deliver Israel—the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, water from a rock, and guidance by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night—but these many blessings acted like sedatives on God’s people.
Paul described the tragic outcome of their sinful thinking in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Israel’s past blessings sedated them into a season of self-absorption, because they focused on the blessings rather than the One who had graciously given them. And here is Paul’s warning to you and me: “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (1 Corinthians 10:11). When we shift our focus from the Giver of our blessings to the blessings themselves, they act like sedatives; we slumber and sin begins to overtake us.
When past blessings sedate us, we are lulled into a false sense of security. We begin to see past blessings as a present promise. We begin to expect only good from the hand of our good God, as if we are somehow deserving of it. We lose our sense of appreciation for the many good gifts we have received from the hand of Almighty God. But when past blessings serve as stimulants, we shift our focus from the gift to the Giver of the gift; when we do, we never lose our dependence upon Him. We understand that past blessings can be exchanged for present burdens in an instant. So we keep our spiritual eyes on our Savior, which keeps our hands and feet from slackening into sinful self-reliance.
Let me ask you this: Have past blessings sedated or stimulated you in your walk with Jesus? Is your focus on what you have been given? Or on the One who has given it to you? Remember, our greatest gift is God, not what He so graciously gives us. Keep looking up, and let your past blessings stimulate you to a life of sold-out service to your Savior.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!