WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT FROM US?
To listen to people talk today, you might think all God expects of us is to be kind to one another. Somehow, by treating others with kindness, we fulfill what God is asking us to do. Sadly, that is not the truth.
We all know God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. These are His expectations for us, to teach us right from wrong. Not all these commandments are aimed at other people however.
Jesus summed up the ten commands best in Matthew 22. When asked which was the greatest commandment, He responded, “‘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.”
You will note that the greatest commandment doesn’t even mention our fellow human beings. It only speaks of God. What Jesus is saying is our first responsibility is always to God, even before others.
Why even bring this up? Because the tendency in our culture today is to leave God out of the picture and focus only on how we treat others. But, when we do this, we totally ignore the greatest commandment. “Love the Lord your God ….”
How do we do this? Well, let’s go back to the original Ten Commandments from which Jesus drew his two greatest. What do they say about God and His expectations.
The commandments tell us to put God first in our lives and not let any object, person or desire take His place. They tell us not to misuse the name of God, including swearing and all forms of cussing (Ephesians 4:29). We are to observe a day of rest each week where we do no work.
The commandments go on to say we need to honor our parents, not just acknowledge them, but honor (respect) them. Don’t lie or gossip. We should not murder. Sex between two people not married to each other is always wrong (whether they consent or not). Do not steal. And finally, do not yearn to possess something someone else has.
If we look at the world today, we can see practical reasons behind each of these commands. The truth is failing to observe these commands always leads to trouble. Yearning to possess what someone else has doesn’t sound all that bad at first glance. Yet how many people have gone deeply into debt because they need the latest popular items, or because they have gambled what they do have away in search of greater wealth? Imagine if they would have given that money to those in need instead.
Sex outside of marriage seems harmless until a child is born from it or a marriage is broken up. Our bodies have limited physical energy and this is why we need a day of rest.
Of course, God still wants us to be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God says something similar in Hebrews 12:14, but with an added note. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
What does it mean to be holy? Again, we look back at the Ten Commandments. These are God’s outlines on how to be holy.
“But, no one can keep all those commandments,” you might be saying. That’s right! None of us can.
And that is why we need to understand the rest of God’s plan. Next time, we will take a look at that.