You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself… I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. (Exodus 19:4, 20:2, NLT)
These are some of God’s words to Moses and the people, right before God gives them the Ten Commandments.
God does not give the people the Ten Commandments as a standard to help Him decide whether or not He will save them. God does not tell His people that they will only be worthy of being rescued if they perfectly follow the Ten Commandments.
No, God rescues them first.
They were slaves, and God sets them free. He takes care of their physical needs, leading them to safety and feeding them. He lets them put His care for them on trial, and gives them water gushing out of a stone. He empowers this ragtag group so they can beat the trained army of the Amaleks.
First, God demonstrates, in ways both practical and astonishing, how much He loves them. And then, God details how rescued people live. He shows them how grateful people respond.
This order is important. You do not have to prove that you are worthy of being rescued. In fact, you cannot prove your worthiness — both because you will never behave or think or feel or be perfectly enough, and because God has already declared you worthy of being rescued by rescuing you. Your own worthiness is beside the point. You’ve already been set free. Which is something to be grateful for.
Gratitude to God is the bedrock of all the Commandments. It has the power to push back against the bitterness, rage, self-righteousness, obsession with our own worthiness, laziness, greed, and fear that are the kindling that fuel the infernos of murder, adultery, idolatry, stealing, covetousness, fraud.
So live as a rescued person, with gratitude.
Bitterness, rage, self-righteousness, obsession with your own worthiness, laziness, greed, fear – they’re going to happen. Don’t let them ride unchecked. Fight back with gratitude that you don’t have to prove a thing: God has already carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Himself, just as you are.