I woke up this morning with this title phrase on my mind. It comes directly from the lips and pen of Moses as he closes his final sermon to the people he has led from Egypt through forty years of wandering in the wilderness to the very brink of the Promised Land.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live . . .” Deu. 30:19
I recently completed my Advanced Health Care Directive providing health care professionals with a general (and in a couple cases, specific) instructions and interests regarding decisions related to health care in the event I am not physically able to communicate these instructions myself. (If you have not completed a Directive, or at least named a health care representative, you really should. Sooner rather than later. You can not assume health care providers will honor your marriage relationship, if you are married, as legal grounds for decision making. They will not.)
Filling out the Directive made me think about life and death and the choices we make. There are a couple scenarios where I have pretty much decided I would rather let life happen without intervention even if the outcome is death. (What is death, after all, for a believer, but a moment in eternal life already begun through faith in Jesus?) There is a certain level of care need, expense, and projected outcome where I would prefer (not being at that level at the moment) to leave my personal course of history to the hand of God rather than the gloves of doctors. That’s the background that led to thinking of Moses’ admonition and asking myself, “What does Moses mean, ‘choose life?'”
The words come at the close of a section where Moses recounts what God will do for His people after they abandon Him and cause Him to apply to them the curses included in the covenant. After they turn away from Him and to other gods, and He justly and rightly exiles them and drives them from the Land, Moses reveals God’s further plan. When the people repent, God will bring them home.
When God’s rebellious people again take the covenant seriously and faithfully, He will restore their blessing. Their change of fortune comes on the heels of their change of heart. And that change of heart has a very specific description. This is what Moses reveals:
“If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply . . .” Deut. 30:16
God’s blessing hinges on love. When love for God motivates faith and obedience blessing follows. And the blessing of faithfulness is life. Consider the sentence that follows Moses’ command to choose life:
“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him for He is your life and length of days that you may live long in the land . . .” Deu. 30:19b-20
Choosing life is more than choosing medical intervention rather than palliative care. It is more than not shooting rather than shooting. It is more than adoption rather than abortion. It IS all these things, but it is more. To choose life is to choose God, to love Him and to demonstrate your love for Him through faith and obedience. Do you see it? Do you see the three components of life Moses sets before us? Love the LORD your God, obey His voice, hold fast to Him. There they are love, obedience, faith. To choose the three is to choose life.
So I urge you today, as you make your life choices, choose life. Choose to love God. Choose to obey His word. Choose to hold fast in faith to Him. Choose life.