We faithfully teach our children in Sunday School the following instruction:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesian 6:1-3).
How does the last phrase, the blessing attached to this commandment, become a reality? Is this a promise for long life per se? Certainly, there have been very obedient children who did not live long upon the earth, so it must mean something more.
Whether it is Christmas or a birthday celebration, children will often receive a gift which has two dangerous words printed on the packaging: “Assembly Required.” At that point, an adult steps in and assembles the lovely gift. Instructions probably accompany the project. If you obey the instructions, you will be able to enjoy the gift. If the child, follows the instructions for using the toy, they will be able to enjoy the gift. There may come a point where the child’s disregard for the gift’s design could damage the toy or themselves. An adult may have to intervene and take away the gift for a time until the child’s maturity indicates that they can handle the toy correctly.
God promised the special land to Abraham and his descendants. It was a gift beautifully wrapped by miraculous events. The Israelites, as the descendants, were the rightful possessors of the land, but whether they would be able to enjoy it or not depended on their obedience. The first generation of the nation of Israel who stood at the threshold of the Promised Land refused to obey and honor God their Father. This disqualified them from enjoying the land. Their children were the ones to whom the promise was extended. Children, obey…and you will live long in the land.
Deuteronomy 28 is a full disclosure of God’s instructions for the gift of the Promised Land. As long as they obeyed God’s instruction, they would be able to delight in the gift. If they refused to obey, they would not enjoy the land and eventually, they would be removed from the land. The key was for them to learn how to live in abundance:
“Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things…” (Deuteronomy 28:47).
Clearly, most Americans are wealthy compared to the rest of the world. Moreso, believers in Christ are loaded with heavenly riches. We have many gifts, but the secret to enjoying them is using them to serve the Lord with joyfulness and gladness. When we use the abundance of all things incorrectly, for our own desires, we are failing to follow God’s instruction. This means we forfeit the privilege to fully enjoy those blessings.
How will you use the many blessings, physical and spiritual, God has given you? Will you follow the first generation of Israel’s example of disobedience? Will you respond like their children? Live obediently in the abundance of things.