In the first six verses of Deuteronomy 9, Moses reminds the Israelites three times that it is NOT their righteousness that “made God” take them to the promised land. Here, the Hebrew meaning of the word ‘righteousness’ is ‘right relationship with God.’ He spends the rest of the chapter reminding his audience of all the wicked things they did and the times they walked away from God in utter unbelief to drive home the truth that they never had a right relationship with God. God did not owe them anything. God called the Israelites out of all the nations because He loved them (Deuteronomy 7:8).
What was true for the Israelites is true for us. God did not adopt us as His children because of anything we did. King David and Apostle Paul recognized this when they wrote, “No one is righteous – not even one” (Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10). Just as God showed His love for the Israelites, “God showed His great love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). We can do nothing to earn God’s love. We can do nothing to be adopted as His own children. It is His gift to us because of His love for us.