Music is an important part of most of our lives. An interesting study recently found that the characteristic of self-promotion is far more prominent in pop music today than it was in the last quarter-century. The authors of the study noted that the level of self-promotion and out right bragging in 1990 was basically confined to rap music genre. Compared to that time period, popular music in 2010 and later were found to have more content with self-promotion included in the songs.
The authors concluded that the hit songs we listen to “represent the increasing individualistic and narcissistic tendencies in the culture and convey that self-focus is acceptable.”
In Deuteronomy 8, we see a call on life that is the opposite of narcissism and self-promotion. This call is to view being humbled by life or circumstances as valuable. It is inevitable that the biggest self-promoter in life will at some point be humbled by circumstances. Life has a way of knocking everyone off his/her high-horse. When that happens, will you see and experience the value of being humbled? Trusting in God, we can see two distinct values from being humbled by circumstances (Deuteronomy 8:1-6).
Value #1: To Discover Who You Are (vv. 1-3):
There is a difference in who you pretend to be and who you really are. You can sometimes fool yourself the best. But usually when circumstances in life squeeze you enough, what is in your heart and who you really are comes out.
In this story, Moses is preparing a new generation to meet the challenges of conquering the Promised Land. From his own experience of wandering in the desert for 40 years, he appeals to them to: “be careful to follow every command I am giving you today”. Moses is pressing upon them the importance of not just understanding the truth revealed in God’s Word (“every command”), but to “follow” where the truth leads. Second, Moses points out that God led them to this desert experience “to humble you and to test you”. “To humble” refers to adversity that weakens you and helps you experience your need for God in life. “To test” refers to refining your character to be more in line with Who God is.
The gift and value of being humbled by circumstances in life is to show you who you are. You cannot allow God to change you for the better until you are first aware that you need Him to. Being humbled by life gives you that opportunity.
Value #2: To Grow in Your Faith (vv. 4-6):
For an athlete to make progress he/she must do more than study technique — the athlete has to work-out! An athlete has to put his/her body under the strain of training. Humbling circumstances in life can serve as training to grow in your faith. Notice what Moses reveals about God in v.5: “the Lord your God disciplines you.” This doesn’t mean to punish; this Old Testament usage means to instruct or to train. In those humbling moments in life, God will affirm what is right in your life and correct what is wrong. In choosing to embrace the value of being humbled, you experience God’s faithfulness. He will not give up on you.
Secondly, you will experience personal transformation (v. 6). This transformation is expressed in two ways: One, by “walking in His ways” — you will follow where the truth leads you. Two, by “revering Him” — you will develop a genuine reverence for God. This means you will desire to honor God with your life.
The truth is that being humbled in life is a given, not something you can avoid. When such times arrive in your life, will you allow Christ to show you and help you experience the value of being humbled?
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in His ways and revering Him.”