Keep It Simple Silly
Have you ever tried to condense your life down to what is truly important? What is it in this life that matters the most?
There are certainly a multitude of “things” that take our attention and time. Most of them are not necessarily a waste of our time (though they can be), but instead they are often the necessary “things” of life that require bits and pieces of the precious amount of time we do have to give.
Some of those things are work, laundry, making meals, homework, cleaning house, paying bills, social commitments, entertainment, sports, grocery shopping, phone calls, and so on. This is far from an exhaustive list of “time suckers”. It’s true that none of these things are bad for us, in fact they are all good and necessary! If we stop doing any of those things for to long, trouble is certainly on the horizon. Yet, as important as these things are, they are not the most important things.
So what is?
Let’s look at what Jesus has to say. Seems like a good place to start right?
Once Jesus started His earthly teaching, the Sadducees and Pharisees (religious leaders of the time) were always trying to trip Him up. (Good luck with that guys!) Jesus spent a lot of His time answering questions. Some of them were honest and legitimate questions, meant to bring understanding to the asker. However, a great deal of them were some kind of test, meant for Him to fail, so that they could justify their jealousy and allow them a verifiable cause to have Him arrested. (Which, of course we know, they eventually did anyway unjustly.) That’s a message for another day perhaps! Back to our story…
In this passage of scripture, Jesus has just shut down the Sadducees, and the Pharisees are up next. They were certain that they had the one question that He couldn’t possibly answer correctly according to their law (and all the add on laws that they incessantly created).
- But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question. “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.’ (Deut 6:5. 38) This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev 19:18. 40) The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Jesus simply dialed it down to 2 things. The Pharisees were famous for adding impossible laws and customs for the people, to the point that no one could EVER live them perfectly (except for themselves, in their self righteous state). Jesus, creator of heaven and earth, sustainer of life, redeemer and savior, tells us all right here what matters MOST to Him.
Love God and love people. In that order.
Seems easy enough, right? But is it? Do we? We all have this in common: We WANT to put God first in everything we do, we WANT to give Him the first and best part of our hearts and devotion, we WANT to honor Him with our lives.
So let’s dial it back ourselves a little bit. How do we “love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind.”? An article on lookingforgod.com puts it this way, when it comes to defining loving God with all of our heart in the following areas;
LOVE GOD WITH:
- our Desires – conforming our desires to those which will please and honor God
- our Affections – that we love those things that God loves
- our Purposes – that we pursue those things that God would have us pursue
- our Will – that we choose that which is good in our lives
- our Feelings – that we subject our feelings to the truth of God’s Word
- our Character – that we pursue holiness, godliness, and purity
- our Thoughts – that we meditate on the truth of God’s Word, and live everyday in the light of it.
It’s quite a list, but I find it very helpful to direct my heart and soul toward loving God simply, and meaningfully. Love is not just a word, or an emotion. Love is action. If I am to love God with my heart, soul, and mind, this gives me a glimpse into what that really looks like in my “flesh”. It’s not a to do list, designed to restrict and control, but rather, a heart check. Am I on the right track? Am I working toward exercising those actions and thought patterns?
And what about “Love your neighbor as your self.” That one seems easier. We might think to ourselves, “I don’t hate anyone. I am never intentionally rude, or mean. I try to do right by people. I’m ok.” And I am willing to bet that those are true statements about each of us (at least I hope so!) But is that what Jesus really meant here? Possibly, but maybe there’s more to be done. A wise friend once told me “the easy thing to do is seldom the right thing to do.” It’s easier not to get involved, to protect our own pride and heart. But is that the BEST thing?
We may have these thoughts:
How can I reach out and help someone? What if I’m wrong about their situation? I don’t want to hurt their feelings. I don’t really know what they need. I don’t have much money to help them. I don’t want to get wrapped up in their drama. I have my own life and issues to deal with.
That’s all true. But still, that’s what Jesus said. Love your neighbor as yourself.
If we break that down, loving our neighbor communicates concern. I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of using all of the above reasons, to keep to myself, and stay “safe”. But there have also been times when I have taken that plunge, and reached out to someone. And I know that the latter always feels better. Always. Often times, nothing more is required of me, but the individual knows that I care and that help is available if they truly need it. Sometimes my action has cost me financially. Sometimes it has only cost me some time in prayer. Other times my concern has cost me some loving, encouraging words. And every single time, I have been blessed. I know that the Lord sees my heart.
Ephesians 6:8 “Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do…”
When we choose obedience to the word of God and we invest in others, we fulfill the second greatest commandment. That’s a tall order for any day, but it’s not to hard. Not really. He will lead us to those that we are supposed to invest in. I promise, He does not expect you (by yourself) to fix everything for everyone all the time. Start with those whom He specifically draws to you. You’ll know. It will feel right.
And you will get the biggest blessing of all. Let’s all look for a way to put our faith into action today. Let’s be “hearers of the word and not just doers only” James 1:22. Just do it, reach out.
Love God, love people.
Image by Jackson David from Pixabay