Deuteronomy 22:1-2   If you see your brother’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him.  If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is, take it home with you and keep it until he comes looking for it.  Then give it back to him.

I find it challenging to read through these chapters in Deuteronomy and reflect on the simple ‘rules’ God laid down for the establishment and functioning of a happy, contented, ’well-oiled’ society in the Promised Land.  But it is sad to see how far we have moved away from his simple manifesto that was always intended to bring BLESSING, and to witness how much harm, hurt and hardship we are thus bringing upon ourselves.

The sinfulness of the human heart makes us BLIND to this obvious reality as we are subtly indoctrinated into believing that the ‘secret of life’ is to look after ourselves first, to put SELF at the centre without getting too involved in the cares and struggles of others.  I remember as a child in the school playground operating on the maxim: ‘Finders keepers, losers weepers’, as if this was the best outlook to have.  But, even at a young age, I soon came to see that it always seemed the best policy for ‘finders’, but never for ‘losers’.  And our society today seems more and more to be suffering from the overall effects of this playground indoctrination.  I once came out of a supermarket in Auckland, NZ, and discovered from the docket that the girl at the checkout had missed one of the items in my trolley.  I went back to rectify the mistake and the girl was so surprised she had no idea how to process it!

Perhaps the most comforting thing I get from reading through Deuteronomy is that it shows me how necessary and gracious it was for God to send his Son INTO this sin-ridden mess to teach and demonstrate God’s manifesto, and then to die in my place so that God had a basis on which to FORGIVE all MY contributions to it!  Jesus summed up God’s manifesto with the well-known (but not always well-observed) ‘Golden Rule’: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12).  We see this principle affirmed by the Apostle Paul: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honour one another above yourselves.  … Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.”  (Romans 12:10, 13).

At least it is comforting to know that the more we seek to shape our lives according to God’s manifesto, and the more we seek to live ‘Christ-centred’ and ‘others-centred’ lives in a self-centred society, the more obvious the need for a Saviour will be.

– Bruce Christian