One of my favorite Bible texts is in this chapter, but it might not be the one you think. Yes, there is the famous "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (vs 4) And there’s also the one Jesus quoted: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (vs 5) And both of those are nice, but neither is the one I’m thinking of.
The passage I love is this: "When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (vs 10-12)
This passage is all about two things: what God was going to do, and what the people were not going to do. They were not going to build, provide, dig, or plant, yet God was planning to give them cities, full houses, wells, and vineyards. Why, that sounds like getting something for nothing. Yes! That’s exactly how God works!
God is not an employer. He doesn’t pay wages. It’s not tit for tat. He doesn’t give us what we’ve earned or deserve. On the contrary, He gives us what we don’t deserve. He gives us what we haven’t worked for. He’s into gifts, not paychecks. Those Israelites hadn’t done one thing to deserve all the blessings God was about to heap on them, but He was planning to do it anyway.
I believe this is an important distinction — the comparison between paying wages and giving gifts. It’s a distinction Paul drew in Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." One Bible version says, "Sin pays its own wage. The wage is death." I think the comparison is clear. If you’re looking for an employer, one that will grant you exactly what you deserve, seek out sin. It’s a strict employer, and it pays a severe wage. But God is not an employer. He is a giver through and through. His gift is life, life, and more life! And, on top of that, He is anxious to give us every good gift — cities we didn’t build, houses we didn’t buy, wells we didn’t dig, gardens we didn’t plant......