Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth . . . Deuteronomy 8:17,18
When I relapsed into drug use several years ago, I had previously been clean for a while and at the time, had a couple of acquaintances who were new at recovery. As they thought I was living in recovery, they would occasionally ask me questions. Even in my relapse, it was easy to know what they should do.
When looking at another, it is usually easy to see what is right, but when I’m making the decision for myself, suddenly, What is right? Becomes, What do I want? My wisdom evaporates when applying it to my own life.
Most of us do this. When we’re objective, we make good decisions. When our thinking is distorted by focusing on ourselves, we make poor decisions.
This seemed to be the issue Moses addressed in today’s passage. In it, Moses recounted how God was in the process of giving the Israelites the promised land. He warned them, that in their success, they must not distort their perspective and claim the victory for themselves.
With any accomplishment, it is our nature to engage in this distorted self-perspective. Whether it is our career or sobriety, our normal inclination is to exclaim, Look at what I have done! Just as it is our nature to seek our own preference in all things, it is our nature to take credit for what God has given us.
The danger is not only that we fail to give thanks to God. In turning our gaze to ourselves, we make poor decisions. While looking at God, we ask, What is right? While looking at ourselves, we ask, What do I want?
If we want to walk in faith, if we want wisdom, and if we want to follow God, we must continually keep our eyes on Him. We must continually recognize when we are self-focused, and we must do whatever it takes to turn our gaze to God.