Readings for October 25, 2020
Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
When I was young, my parents attempted to keep me away from bad behavior. They did this by instructing me in what not to do. “Don’t do that” or “stop that” or “stay away from that” were meant to be instructional in the simplest, least questionable way. Unfortunately for my parents, that still doesn’t mean that I listened. I found myself “doing” and “going towards” many of these bad behaviors. Eventually though, I did start to learn for myself that what my parents’ deemed “bad” was, in fact, pretty bad. Once they could see that I had learned this, my parents’ instructions began to change. Instead of being told what not to do, the focus turned to what I should be doing. Fortunately, thanks to an increased maturity, I seemed to respond much better to the instructions on what I should be doing.
God seems to follow a pattern similar to my parents. In Exodus, He instructs the Hebrews on what not to do. Do not treat the aliens badly, do not forget the poor, etc. In fact, even the entirety of the Ten Commandments are patterned after this same type of instruction. Thou Shalt Not seems to ring true to a parent’s attempt to keep children from bad behavior.
But then came Jesus to turn things around with phase two of God’s plan. No, Jesus doesn’t change the rules, but he starts to expand on them and to tell us what to do, pointing us to the source and summit of the Law. Love–love God, and love others as we love ourselves. The Law, and everything we’ve been told by the prophets, proclaim these two “greatest” commandments. More than mere Cliff’s Notes, the command to love is an all inclusive, perfectly stated summation of all that God has been trying to teach us since the day He formed Adam from a puddle of mud.
Simply, everything we do should reflect a love for God, our omniscient and ever merciful Creator. And, all that we do to others, those He created in the same love as He created us, must dignify that love. The two are inextricably linked. If we love God, then how we treat ourselves and how we treat others needs to mirror the love God has for us.
Certainly, love isn’t always easy. But it is always sanctifying. Because by doing so, what has been undeservedly gifted to us is deservedly returned to Him.
Lord Jesus, your love is my strength. Help me live out that love with those whom I encounter, whether alien or family, poor or influential. May I make a return to the Father with the love I share with others. Amen