I think I learn best with positive reinforcement, but God knows that not everyone is motivated by affirmation. Sometimes we also need to be aware of the negative consequences of a situation. After a detailed description of the blessings that would come from following God’s ways, we read more than fifty verses that describe what will happen (in heart-wrenching detail) if God is not obeyed. It is tragically sad that these warnings foreshadow what will take place in years to come for the Israelites.
The Book of Proverbs, written later in history, wisely warn us to guard our hearts. That is what Moses seeks to convey as he retells the story of the Israelites, preparing them for their future. Everything we do flows from our hearts, where we decide and then act upon the options before us. I pray we would stay near to God and value His love and wisdom above all else. “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ ”
The consequence for a rebellious attitude is severe. No matter how much we might try to rationalize the situation, when we are separated from God we are far from safe. Beware, beware! Stubborn independence is not a virtue but a strong vice. Although we may feel free, God warns us that an obstinate mindset is a lethal trap.