Editorial: A New Standard

On the plains of Moab, Moses addressed the people of God. Egypt and the wilderness lay behind; Jordan and Canaan lay ahead. God was preparing the land for the people, and in his four sermons which comprise the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was preparing the people for the land. Among his instructions he said: “If thy brother … sold unto thee … Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore, I command thee this thing to day” (Deut 15:14-15, KJV).

John Newton, who penned “Amazing Grace,” had inscribed over his desk, “Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt.” There is no greater incentive to faithfulness and devotion than a reminder of the amazing grace we have known.

Over 14 times in Deuteronomy Moses enjoined the people to “remember;” an additional four times he urged them to “forget not.” Obedience and faithfulness flow from a remembrance of grace received.

But the citation in Deuteronomy 15 had another purpose. Whether it was higher and deeper is left for you to discern. They were to treat others with the consciousness of how they had been treated. They were recipients of the “releasing” grace of God and were now expected to treat others in the same manner. They had known the liberal hand of God in giving them a land that they did not work for; houses they did not build; vineyards they did not plant. They in turn were to be marked by liberality in their dealings with others. They were to “open their hand wide” to their brother in need. Thus, grace received was to lead to grace displayed.

We who have known redemption from a far greater bondage, who have received grace abounding, and who have been blessed with every spiritual blessing that the omniscient mind and loving heart of God could give, should have a far greater response to that grace than the nation of Israel did.

The challenging question then is: “Do I treat my fellow believer in the same manner that God has treated me?” Am I willing to “release” them from offenses by showing a readiness to forgive? Do I deal liberally with them in all my interactions, showing a liberality of kindness, care, compassion, and even material things when needed?

In John 15:12 the Lord Jesus established a standard synonymous with the spirit of Deuteronomy 15:14-15. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” The bar has been set very high for us as believers: to show the same grace to others that we have known; to show the same love to others which Christ has for us. The tragedy is not that we fail to reach the standard, but that we make so little effort to reach it.