In case you’re curious, I’m a middle-aged man. Do you know what that means? It means I don’t
The Greatest Commandment is Love
have to listen to my mom anymore. My mother did play a vital role in my life way back when I still lived at home. She taught me right from wrong. She taught me to be responsible and kind, to share and mind my manners. Indeed, I had rules. Then I turned eighteen. That’s when I moved out. I didn’t have to. Mom said I was welcome to stay so long as I earned my keep. I chose to leave. Since then, I’ve been free. I am no longer under the same set of laws. Now, many of Mother’s rules I’ve kept in my heart. I keep them not because she makes me but because I want to. Honestly, they have proved to be very beneficial. But I have also embraced many liberties I never had as a dependent youth. I can stay up past ten if I like. Sometimes I refuse to eat my vegetables. Or maybe I will eat them, but I keep my elbows on the table the entire time. Then there are those moments when I feel especially daring and run with scissors.
Do you see where I’m going with this? We once had a similar relationship with the law. It taught us right from wrong. It instructed us to be responsible and to mind our manners. But it was a temporary covering, a schoolmaster. Now we are free in Christ. This does not mean we no longer follow rules. On the contrary, the two most important ones are etched upon the tablets of our hearts: love God and love others. So long as we abide in Jesus, we have the capacity to keep these commands. Not perfectly, of course, but the desire is generally there. And when we keep these two golden rules, all the law is fulfilled. You see; if I love God I won’t take his name in vain or bow down to idols. And if I love others, I won’t murder, steal or commit adultery.
When Jesus is in your heart, you operate under a totally different incentive. You don’t submit to laws because you have to, but because you really want to. Honestly, I tried to be a keeper of rules before I accepted Christ. I felt I had to even though I didn’t always want to. But then God gave me a new heart. Now I really want to follow His statutes because I see they are all about love, and love benefits everyone.
With the exception of the law of love, no other rules get etched upon our hearts. Only two out of twenty-thousand made the cut. Aren’t you glad it wasn’t the other way around? The good Lord was quite thoughtful to allow us a lot of wiggle room. Some prefer to call this wiggle room “Christian liberty.” Others simply refer to it as grace. However you look at it, we only have two rules. As for any other guidelines, we allow the Holy Spirit to deal with our consciences. This means that you must work out on your own whether or not to eat pork, have beer with your pizza, vote outside the Republican Party or get a tattoo on your backside. Those are just a few examples; there are a host of other liberties as well. I do hope you take advantage of a few. Those who decline the privilege never seem to enjoy themselves much.
Most likely there are several rules you have adapted besides “the big two” because you have found them to be personally beneficial. That’s fantastic, so long as you don’t judge others who may not subscribe to those same rules. This would certainly violate the much higher law of love. On the other hand, you may choose to indulge in liberties that others do not have. They may even be liberties some find offensive. Those are the ones you need to watch out for. If someone is stumbled by your liberty, you have compromised the law of love. Love always considers others first. And love is also the greatest evidence that Christ is in your heart.
From ‘My City Was Gone’ by Terry Michaels
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
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