1 Corinthians 4:7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? |
While the whole world sat in the darkness of idolatry and superstition, Israel was being given the Light which enlightens everyone (John 1: 9; Psalms 119:105). At that time, only Israel knew about the Creator of Heaven and earth; only Israel had the Light of Torah and was given the parameters of morality, of right and wrong, of pure and impure, of edible and non-edible.
As the people made ready to conquer the Land, God reminds them not to think highly of themselves or that they will be victorious because of their own righteousness and knowledge of Torah. He tells them that it is solely because of the wickedness of its inhabitants that they will win the Promised Land. Yes, while in the desert they learned all about righteousness, but reminding them of their failings and those of the previous generation, the Father tells them that they are a 'stiff-necked' people so to not glory in themselves (Deuteronomy 9). Paul uses the same rhetoric, What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it, he asks the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:7)?
We recently organized a graduation party for my son. My wife's ninety-nine year-old aunt from Sweden commented, "I don't understand Americans and their graduation parties; you don’t deserve a party because you were faithful to go to school and graduated, you go to school because you must!". In the same way our obedience to study the word or obey Torah doesn't deserve any accolades. Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zacchai, a sage who lived at the time of the destruction of the second Temple and who certainly knew about Yeshua said, "If you have learned much Torah, do not claim credit for yourself, because for such a purpose you were created."
Our Rabbi and Master also taught along the same lines. Using the Talmudic idea that the Torah is our yoke of service comparable to that of an ox serving his owner He says "Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:7-10).'"
May we as we learn and grow, and as we benefit from God's miracles of supply and protection, always remember that the righteousness to whom we owe our blessed state is not ours but that of our Master, Yeshua.
Patrick Gabriel Lumbroso
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