Psalm 98; Deuteronomy 32:44–47; Mark 10:42–45
What are your two pet sins? Or, what sin of others sets you off (lying, adultery, etc.)? And, what sin of yours do you just try to brush off as not being that significant?
Most of us have these. It may be severe, and it may be mild. Regardless, we rarely appreciate either our response to others’ sins or our own sins being confronted.
The end of Moses’ speech (the entire book of Deuteronomy) is all about a disciplined relationship with God. Yes, disciplined. All of our relationships have some sort of discipline. Moses helped provide the guidelines of the discipline.
Discipline, in this sense, means to control oneself. Control oneself so that one doesn’t walk away from God and toward all the things of the world that can pull us away.
As hard as the law was to fulfill, it was also filled with grace and forgiveness when people failed. There were ways out.
Yet, in Moses’ words, there is a foreboding sense that he knows that his words (and God’s) will be tested. From Moses’ perspective and experience, following God is life. For him, the Israelites choosing to follow God or not would determine whether all the trials were worth it.
Moses didn’t have much trust in the discipline of the Israelites.
In the Christian life, discipline is not a solo initiative. We need people around us, while they too need us. The real struggle, of course, is being willing to put ourselves in both the place of being held accountable and truly holding others accountable. Both places are uncomfortable.
Jesus’ words to his disciples provide some limits—discipline—to what this relationship is supposed to look like. We are not to hold things over one another, for that is a relationship of power. When we hold one another accountable, it is as a servant, meaning we look to the improvement or betterment of the other. Of course, there is a trick to this, which is also what Moses was addressing. The improvement and betterment is toward God not automatically “improving” ourselves. Theoretically, they should be the same, yet much of the world’s self-improvement is not toward becoming more Christ-like, but becoming what Jesus warned his disciples against.
Who are you helping to be disciplined, and who is helping you do be disciplined?
Lord, help our hearts to follow your words that we can build each other up. Amen.