This is one of those weeks when I seemed to have no inspiration to write an article for the ABC Messenger. I allowed my mind to flit all over the place, but nothing came. Finally I picked up a random book from my office shelf. It was Check Book on the Bank of Faith: 366 Precious Promises for Daily Readings, written around 1888 by the great English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I decided to turn to his scripture text for March 28 and see if any light would go on. Here’s what I read:
The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail. (Deuteronomy 28:13)
My reaction was, “Huh? I’ve never heard that before. Is it really in the Bible?” So I read the whole chapter from the ancient Book of Law. I found that this is in a very powerful statement about all the blessings we will enjoy in life if we do things God’s way, contrasted with a list of “curses” we will experience if we don’t. This verse is part of a summary paragraph after a series of blessings:
The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom-if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I am commanding you today, either to the right or to the left. (verses 13-14)
I remained fascinated with the first clause, and I was anxious to read Spurgeon’s comment about the head and the tail. Here’s a portion of it:
“It is for saints to lead the way among men by holy influence; they are not to be the tail, to be dragged hither and thither by others. We must not yield to the spirit of the age, but compel the age to do homage to Christ . . . How can we be the servants of custom, the slaves of human opinion?”
I understand and accept Spurgeon’s point, though it seems to be colored by his British perspective of a State Church and a Christian Nation. He’s echoing what the Apostle Paul was saying when he exhorted,
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within” (Romans 12:2, J.B. Phillips translation).
But having the knowledge that God wants me to be the head and not the tail impresses me in other ways as well. First, it encourages me to stand tall and be more confident. If I feel like a tail, just dragging along, I’ll begin to act like a tail, always following where others lead me. God wants me to take more initiative than that, to have creative ideas, act on them and follow through to completion.
As I was contemplating further, I realized that accepting God’s authority as Head of my life doesn’t make me into a tail, just wagging in compliance. This whole chapter is about obeying him, following his laws and doing his will, all of which may sound subservient, even slave-like. Yet, he wants me to be the head, not the tail. Somehow, these ideas don’t contradict each other. He expects me to be in charge of my own life and to strike out in bold directions. The surprising thing is that submitting to him doesn’t turn me into the tail, grovelingly passively. When I make him my Head and determine to do his will, he still expects me, in some way, to be the head of my life. My being the head becomes a fuller expression of his being the Head. Amazingly, the best me becomes the best manifestation of him in my world. I have been created in his image, and that means I’m the head and not the tail.
Spend the rest of today thinking about what this means in your life:
The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.
— Pastor George Van Alstine