We, humans in general, make things so complicated and convoluted. But God keeps things simple. Yes there are 613 laws in the Old Testament, but Jesus Himself says that every law is based in two simple all encompassing things:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
Why should you reimburse a neighbor for killing or injuring their livestock? Because it’s the right thing to do based on the law of love.
Why shouldn’t you commit adultery? Because the law of love invites you to do the right thing and honor & respect your spouse.
Not complicated. Is it?
Paul repeated it in His letter to the Galatians in regards to true freedom…
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” Galatians 5:13-15 NLT
Point to ponder while you wander…God does ask us to give things up, and let things go so He can help us grow up and walk with maturity in what He has for us. But He doesn’t require us to literally sacrifice anyone or anything. What He requires is simple and straight forward:
”Should we offer Him thousands of rams & ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good & this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:7-8
Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.
Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!
“But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP
I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16.
And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.
I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.
But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.
I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.
Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.
Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.
Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?
It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in.
And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.
So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.
Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV