Theme of the Week: Exodus
Bible Verse: “And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’” Exodus 20:1-2
Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:1-26
Some rights are inherent. We don’t have to do anything to earn them. They are ours simply by existing as humans. This is perhaps most famously captured in the Declaration of Independence of the United States (most famously, not necessarily best): “. . . that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Rights that our Creator gives for being human.
Other rights are granted. The right to vote, drive a car, etc. These rights do not belong to every human; even those with them may experience them differently. Governments, local and federal, can give these rights. They can also be taken away, either forfeited by our actions abusing those rights or because the government deems that something needs to change for the health of the populace.
Then there are rights that are earned. Often less formal than other rights, there are some rights that we, by our behavior or achievements, or sometimes by the expenditure of funds, can acquire. Access to certain places, specific financial considerations, associations based on profession or status—there’s a conference that I would love to attend every year, but it’s only for C-level executives. I don’t have the right to attend and may never have it.
Interestingly, God uses the language of earned rights in the Ten Commandments. Instead of beginning with the fact that He is the Creator of everything and everyone, which He could have done, He begins the expression of His expectations by reminding the Israelites that He is the God who brought them out of slavery. Many Bible scholars suggest an implied “therefore” between verses 2 and 3. “I brought you out of Egypt, therefore, you shall have no other gods before me . . .”
He had earned the right to place expectations on the Israelites. Of course, as Creator, they were also inherent to Him, but He did not claim those rights. He spoke in terms of their experience and how they had benefited from His power and deeds. The way they were to respond to this gracious and incredible kindness was to live in certain ways. And it wasn’t as if they had to figure those ways out; God outlined His expectations for them! Gracious indeed. Not only did I bring you out of that terrible situation, I will tell you what I expect from you because I did it.
The same is true for us. We have been brought out of our slavery to sin. God has moved in mighty ways in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to free us from our bondage. That gives Him the right to place expectations on those who have been saved. He graciously outlines those expectations in the life and words of Jesus and the rest of Scripture. Living into those expectations is how we respond to God’s gracious and powerful act bringing us freedom.
Prayer: God of deliverance, you have brought people out of slavery, delivering them from bondage. You have freed me. Please help me to live in response to your salvation. Thank you for showing me what that response should look like. Amen.
Reflection: How do you feel about God’s “expectations” in your life? Do you resent them? Do you strive to live up to them? Do you see them as a response to your salvation? How might your view of God’s expectations change if you remember that He has earned the right to place them by His powerful act of salvation?
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