If you are a parent, a boss, a co-worker, a caregiver or in position of authority, you know full well that obedience is not in the hearing, it is in the doing. If you asked your son to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, the only way you know he obeyed your command is to see the laundry in the actual dryer.
James 1:22- 25 says:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
How often do we forget to show God we have heard him by acting on his word? And as James points out, acting on what we hear is not just for God’s benefit, it is for ours! We will be “blessed” in what we do.
The Great Commandment taught by Jesus wasn’t the great suggestion, like 10 tips for a better life. Let’s examine it, this time from Matthew 22:37-40:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Did you catch that? Jesus said that everything that has ever been commanded and taught about the Kingdom of God hangs or hinges on these two commandments.
|LOVE||GOD||WITH ALL YOUR HEART, SOUL, MIND (AND STRENGTH-Mark 12:30)|
|LOVE||YOUR NEIGHBOR||AS YOURSELF|
What a relief, actually! If we can just concentrate on these two commandments we can rest assured that everything else will be taken care of. Following Jesus is not about a bunch of endless rules and regulations, it’s simply about love. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it is certainly simple enough. Give love. Receive love. Think about love. Act in love. Focus on love. Make all of your life revolve around love.
But the Truth Is…
Many of us have said, “YES” to loving God. We have come to a place of belief. Our belief has encouraged us to make our lives more and more like Christ’s. We have learned the lessons. We have memorized the verses. We have read our scriptures. We have joined a church community…
The question is, “Have you said, ‘YES’ to loving your neighbors? At first, you may think, “Well, of course!” But ask yourself the question one more time. Have you said, “YES” to God that you will make your life about loving your neighbors? This is a crucial question and it demands a decision by each one of us. And just for clarity, this is not a decision that your pastor makes for you or your church makes on your behalf. This is your decision.
Just as each one of us must make a personal decision to love God, each person must make a personal decision about loving our neighbors. This is a commitment you make. It’s a vow. It’s a stake in the ground that marks obedience to the Great Commandment… This is the kind of decision that aligns you with the heart of God.
This is an excerpt from The Neighboring Life, a new video-based small group curriculum by Rick Rusaw, Brian Mavis, Kevin Colón & Krista Petty releasing June 2017. To stay up-to-date on how to order the curriculum, subscribe to our newsletter.