Righteous Living Might Not Be That Complicated

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'  The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

There is no commandment greater than these."   Mark 12:28-31.
The religious leaders in the time of Jesus had made life very complicated for those who wanted to serve God. The rules imposed on people to be observed had become mountainous! The Ten Commandments which were meant to give people a solid path to a good, enjoyable and godly way to relate to God and each other, had been buried under piles of human traditions and regulations. But Jesus came to set us free from all those human additions so that we can relate to God in a genuine and uncomplicated fashion.

Jesus made it clear that all the commandments of God could be summed up in a very simplified way. First: The most important one is to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength.

Second: Love your neighbor as yourself.

As children of God, I wonder how our lives would be like if we put ourselves in "auto pilot" and allowed these two commandments to settle at the core of our beings? What if we were so in love with God that every action we took was informed foundationally by our desire to honor, revere and please Him? How about if we automatically asked ourselves: "Is the way I am spending my time, talents, and treasures pleasing to God?" In other words, are the decisions I am making reflecting my love for God? Does He have all my heart, soul, might and strength?

How about our neighbor -- the person I encounter in my everyday living? My neighbor -- my spouse, children, family, co-workers, fellow students, strangers on the bus or train, people I meet at the bank or the grocery store, or even fellow drivers on the road? How about if I simply had it as an "auto response" that I will love them as myself by treating them the way I would want them to treat me?

So, because I love my neighbor as myself I will not steal from him; I will not bear false witness about him; I will not lie about him; I will not take sexual advantage; I will not slander him; I will not gossip about him, etc.  Instead, I will treat him with the same love I expect from him; I will help my neighbor as far as it is within my ability to do so. 

Someone recently shared a story of how two individuals reached out to her and simply blessed her by using their time and talents to meet some rather critical needs in her life. They did it all for free. One of them actually spent several hours after work on two consecutive days to use his expertise in helping her. She was very grateful and asked if I could reach out to those individuals with "thank you" phone calls. The truth is: Those individuals could have charged her for their services but they saw an opportunity to express practical love to a "neighbor" and they did. They loved her as themselves by doing for her what they would have expected others to do for them if they found themselves in a similar situation.

Righteous living might not be that complicated after all. We can love God and love our neighbors with the help of the Spirit of God within us. Sure, we will blow it many times but genuinely loving God and loving our neighbor the way God requires of us is not impossible with the help of the Spirit of God. He gave us the commands so He can help us live them out!

Prayer: Father, in my own strength it is impossible to love you and love my neighbor as myself. I ask that Holy Spirit will help me to live out your word. Amen.