Deuteronomy 30: 8-14 (NIVUK)
8 You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. 9 Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.
So you have a chance to get one over on your rival by cutting a corner and slightly breaking a rule. Unless the rule is burned into your soul and heart it’s very easy to break the law (such as being honest when you handle the ball at football…).
It's said of the great sports managers and coaches that their players and teams would walk over hot coals and do anything for them, such was their respect and trust in them. This includes doing things that, on the surface, seem to be just plain daft, which they nonetheless did believing their coach to ‘know better’. An elite athlete, coming from a culture quite contrary to Christian attitudes to sexual mores, told me how strange he found the new recommended training for growing intimacy with his girlfriend. However, such was the respect held for his mentor, he simply obeyed and went with it. Once married he was able to reflect, with appreciation, for the wisdom of keeping intimate sexual activity for life-long commitment and marriage.
The command to forgive someone who damages you, or someone you love, may be an impossible ask at first. How do you internalise and fully embrace such a counter-intuitive rule? There may be a gamut of grief to be worked through; but accepting the command and committing to its obedience as a journey towards healing and resolution can lay out the track along which to run a marathon. When Jesus told us to be ready to forgive 70 times 7 could he have been referring to the number of times it may take to forgive someone till you are fully released from the influence and effect of their aggression or thoughtlessness? Of course, the Good News of Jesus’ death for our forgiveness and our own experience of Jesus’ deliverance will soften our own hearts and make us more ready to have our attitudes transformed to exude the forgiveness of God.
Compassionate and Counter-Cultural Coach,
Captain of Salvation
and Wisdom Incarnate in Christ,
we thank you for your patience with us.
Help us to hear, heed and happily obey your commands, especially when they go against the grain of our ‘growing up’.
Teach us to live well: to love you with our all
and love our opponents
as we love our self.