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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 6, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Deuteronomy 30:9–14

And the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

“Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. (NRSV)

When I was young, I was enamored with the board game Mouse Trap. The object of the game was to build an overly complex mousetrap in the style of a Rube Goldberg machine, which uses a series of indirect steps in a chain reaction to accomplish a very simple goal. Rube Goldberg machines are not exactly an engineer’s model of elegant efficiency.

Occam’s razor is a philosophical principle that states that, when approached with a problem or a mystery that one wishes to explain, the simplest explanation is the most plausible. In other words, it is the opposite of Mouse Trap and Rube Goldberg machines. And perhaps the opposite of the way we conceive of following in the way of Jesus.

Sometimes we make discipleship endlessly complicated. Take the oft-invoked words of Micah: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Or perhaps Jesus’ two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor. Much ink has been spilled and many pages written to guide us in these precepts. What’s more, many of those texts and our own minds seek out exceptions to these rules in order to avoid the inconveniences of what God sometimes asks us to do. And yet, as the Deuteronomic text reminds us, the word, the law is very near to us—on our tongue and hearts. Often we know in our souls what we should do. Call it moral instinct. And what is required is for us to keep our attempt at constructing Mouse Traps at bay.

May you find moral courage this day that comes from the word of God dwelling deep within your heart.

God, your love is steadfast, and your way is simple. Give me the courage this day to follow your law of love wherever it might lead. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Community Engagement

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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