Are you a human being or a human doing? That really is what God was trying to tell the children of Israel and, consequently, us when He gave them the choice between life and death.
He said, “I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to Him, firmly embracing Him. Oh yes, He is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors.”1
There really are only two choices we as human beings have today. Although He couches it in terms of life or death, blessing or curse, it really boils down to loving God or not loving Him. There is no middle ground for the blessing to be fulfilled.
Yes, this was the Old Testament and He was instructing them to obey specific laws God had given them. However, the principle holds true for us today. If we wish to take advantage of every good thing from God, we need to love Him.
What He’s talking about here isn’t a mushy kind of goo-goo eyed love, but an active, moving, serving, obeying kind of love. This is the kind of love that chooses the more difficult road of life and rejects the easy road to death.
What does it mean to choose life and what does it mean to choose death? If you were to make a list of things that are life-giving and things that are death-causing in your life, what would the lists look like?
None of us are exactly alike but all of us have some death-causing things with which we struggle. They may look different, but they probably stem from some of the same roots.
There is one way we are all alike. All of us reading this are alive. That means for this moment, at least, you have chosen life.
In addition, I know for a fact that none of us is perfect. We all sin and sin brings death. Grace, the operational power of God, covers our sin so that we can enter His heaven. However, grace does not cover the consequences of sin in the lives of all people here on earth.
Which brings us to the third point which is sin = death. Just a little death negates life. It’s difficult to just be a little dead.
You may think, it’s just a little thing, but can you stand just a little death in your life?
The majority of my life, I have had a problem with extreme weight gain, but even though I was extremely large I didn’t have any other mitigating factors until I hit year 44. That’s when everything started falling apart.
I had been consuming death by overeating for years, but my eyes had been blinded to what I was really doing. It wasn’t until a rude cardiac surgeon told me I would be dead in five years if I didn’t lose at least 100 pounds that I began to face my own mortality.
I had been choosing what I wanted for years, but I didn’t want the consequences of my choice.
I began reviewing things in my life that contributed to that choice. Chief among them was stress on multiple fronts—financial, relational, emotional and spiritual. They all overwhelmed me to the point that my medical issue nearly shut me down completely.
Years before, when I had prayed about my weight problem, I sensed God reveal to me what to do and I wrote it in my journal. “Stop eating sugar. Don’t eat so much bread. Eat more meat, fruits and vegetables.”
It sounded too difficult. So, I dismissed it and continued to eat what I wanted, gaining up to 430 pounds and landing myself in the hospital with an expiration date stamped on this cardboard container I call my body.
I wanted to choose life, but I had spent so many years choosing death that I wasn’t sure how to go about it.
God in His kindness granted me the years to figure it out by doing interventions until I could face the real death-causing issue which for me is addiction to processed sugar and flour.
Laying these on the altar was an act of obedience that activated monumental blessing in my life.
For some, the issue is not food. It could be alcohol, drugs, pornography, shopping, gambling, television or any other number of things.
It can be something that sounds good, but dumps an overwhelming amount of stress in your life, such as work, school, social functions, enrolling children in every sports event available, hobbies, civic clubs, religious activities or any number of other things.
Things that bring death in our life do it at the expense of our health and well-being. They are things we think we should do. They are things that make us focus on doing, rather than being.
God doesn’t care about what we do, He cares about who we are. Are we a human being or a human doing? Is it what we do for the kingdom that counts or who we are at our core?
Before he dies, Moses tells the children of Israel how they are to be: “Love God, your God. Walk in His ways. Keep His commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die.”2
What Moses was telling them is what they do should grow out of who they are.
Are you a person who loves God? Then you will walk in His ways and obey whatever He tells you to do. Then you will really live.
It won’t be trying to live or trying to do everything to earn God’s smile, it will just be smiling with God because He loves you and you love Him.
Maybe then you will be a human being God created just to love Him only.
What death-causing thing do you need to lay down in order to choose life?
1 Deuteronomy 30:19-20, MSG
2 Deuteronomy 30:16-18, MSG
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.