Read time: 4m 18s
Because you did not serve the LORD your God
with joyfulness and gladness of heart,
because of the abundance of all things,
therefore you shall serve your enemies. (Deut 28:47-48)
PART 2: Be Glad
This prophetic indictment of Israel continues to guide us today.
First, God calls us to focus on the abundance we have from Him in Christ.
Brene Brown, the TED-famous sociologist of shame, talks about living in a world surrounded by “scarcity-mongers.” The world wants us to fixate on what we lack, how we are therefore victims, and what we must sacrifice to make up for it. The world aims to enslave us.
But this is not the true. We live in a world of abundance, where all the promises of God—restoring all we lost and more—are ours! And whatever we think we might need beyond this, we have extraordinary help for! (Heb 4:16)
Reality-check! We have “the abundance of all things.” The Holy Spirit is at work to help us see this. In John 16:14-15, Jesus says that the Spirit “will take what is mine and declare it to you.” And what is that? “All that the Father has is mine.” LOL! SAY WHAT! The Spirit’s job is to explain to us that, in Jesus, we have all that God has! Paul says it this way: “We have received…the Spirit who is from God that we might understand the things freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor 2:12) It is so important, from God’s perspective, that we see what we have in Jesus. The Father sends the Spirit to help us understand what we got when the Father sent the Son.
Second, nurture gladness toward God in your heart.
It’s easy to listen to a Christian song, read Scripture, sit through a service or class, and even spend time in prayer, without letting God in. We call this, “going through the motions,” but it’s not intentionally insincere. It’s just that we never put the question to ourselves the way the Psalmist does—“Why are you cast down, my soul?”—and so we’re never brought to the thing by which God means to make us happy. We glide above; we do not enter. We buy the album; we do not sing along. We accept the gift; we do not unwrap it. We pass the pizza; we don’t take a slice.
Get the gift! Receive the sweetness! Get gladness in your heart.
It’s every Christian’s primary job, every day, to get their hearts happy in God. Never mind about “still believing.” Are we happy, because we have this God alive, alert, active and involved in our lives? Are we full of joy, because the gates have opened wide and we have been welcomed? Because we have been dug up, resurrected, to a whole new life? Because we have been forgiven, washed-clean, and absolved of every misdeed? Because we have been taken from the grave, from death-row, from the gutter, and adopted? Because we sit at the King’s own table? Because we have Him who alone deserves fear, as a Father?
If we’re not happy, it’s not His fault. Joy is an appropriate expectation from people who’ve been through what we’ve been through and are now where we are now.
Third, these verses voice an ominous specter: “you shall serve your enemies.” So we must ask, “Am I actually serving my own enemies somewhere in my life?”
The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places, those passing judgment, rabble-rousers, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the boastful pride of life—there’s quite a coalition out there. And they have one goal: to subject us to their service, to steal gladness from our hearts, to keep us always unsatisfied and craving. None of us have escaped them fully. Yet.
And these are our enemies! They mean us harm! One of the abundant blessings God bestows on us is that His Word everywhere sounds this alarm: Wake up! Don’t be blinded! Don’t be led astray! See, the call of Repentance is not a mournful bell tolling for the happy debauched weekend-crowd to return Monday morning to the mines. It’s the bugle ringing out as the cavalry crests the hill on its way to saving us and setting us free.
Where are we serving our enemies? With our attitudes, our spirit? With our thoughts, our judgments? With our words, our silence, our hesitation, our hurry? With our actions, our inactions, our fantasies, our despairs?
We serve our enemies because at our feet we see a world of chaos and terror—uncaring, clamoring, ferocious, scarce—and with this fear in our hearts, we slip into our manacles and shuffle forward, safe, we think, but enslaved. But you only do one thing with slaves: work them to exhaustion and compost what remains.
But that is not true. Our world, in Christ, is new. All things working for God. The God of all comfort, comforting us in our afflictions. A God gracious, merciful, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. All His promises kept, His covenants redeemed, and delivered to us freely by Jesus. The fullness of God filling our hearts. His inexpressible gift. This is our world.
Let this good news enter your heart and make you glad. Serve the LORD. Not because you have to, but because you, well, just simply must.