Thoughts on Deuteronomy #5 — The Original “You didn’t build that!”

19th January, 2013 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

Regardless of your political affliation, we all must admit that Obama’s words during the recent campaign, “You didn’t build that!” sparked lots of emotional responses. Many people were angry (and understandably so) to have their hard efforts of building new businesses and enterprises minimized. Most of us recognize that we couldn’t accomplish what we do without some assistance from other people, but the assistance of government in these efforts are questionable to be sure.

Whether or not President Obama was aware of it, he was not the first to use the words, “You didn’t build that.” Moses actually said it first in his lengthy address to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 6:10-12, Moses said, “When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers … a land with large, flourishing cities you didn’t build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant …”  The inhabitants of Canaan had built a flourishing civilization. In giving the land to the Israelites, the LORD God was also providing everything His people needed to begin a new life. Cities, houses, vineyards … these are all there just waiting for the people to conquer the Canaanites and then settle down into a new and prosperous life. What a generous and faithful God the Israelites worshipped!

Why did Moses emphasize the fact that the Israelites would be taking advantage of benefits that they themselves had had nothing to do with creating? Moses follows his words with this warning, “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  In these verses and in later passages in Deuteronomy Moses tells the people not to forget the LORD, and rightfully so, because it didn’t take long for the people to turn from the LORD and either simply forget Him or also worship the pagan gods of the people who still lived in the land.

Making an application for today is this: we don’t want to minimize the diligence of those who struggle through problems and setbacks to establish a new business, to make a new product, or to write a new book. The self-discipline and perseverence to do these things are to be commended. At the same time we all must remember that without the talents and resourses God has given us and the presence of the Lord each day guiding and going before us, we could not be successful in our efforts.

Think about what you have done by the grace of God to make a difference in the world. I think about the books I’ve written which never would have been completed without the direction of God’s Spirit and His encouragement to finish the task set before me. When we think about the words, “You didn’t build that!”, let’s thank the Lord that we could do what we did and that He helped us do it.

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