In the Peanuts comic strip, Peppermint Patty once asked Charlie Brown if he knew any good rules for living. This was his list: “Keep the ball low. Don’t leave your crayons in the sun. Use dental floss every day. Don’t let the ants get in the sugar. And always get your first serve in.”
Many people today are asking, “What should I do?” Some people who ask that want someone simply to give them a list of things to do. Then they will have someone to blame if everything goes wrong, thereby relieving them of personal responsibility.
Because people have always come to the Church to ask what they should do, many churches have developed a formal list of dos and don’ts. You may have been in a church like that. Most things on the list people wouldn’t do anyway if they just read their Bible. But for some reason, people prefer to have a list of rules to follow.
In the Old Testament, God gave Moses 613 rules for His people to follow. The Mosaic Law contained many dos and don’ts. When Jesus came, He gave us a new covenant and a new law. No longer do we follow a long list of dos and don’ts. In this New Testament law, the law of love, there are only two commands. Jesus gave them to us in Mark chapter 12.
MARK 12:28–31 (NIV)
28 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?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
If you ever wonder what you should do, or more specifically, what you should do with your future, I will make it simple: Do what the Bible says. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you love God and love your neighbor, you’ll find that everything else falls into place.
In any given situation, when you have to decide whether to do something and you wonder if what you might do is right or wrong, examine the situation in the light of the law of love. Ask yourself, “If I do such-and-such, will that be loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, and strength and loving my neighbor as myself?” If you ask yourself that question every time, you won’t have to ask whether the situation is right or wrong. The law of love will never lead you to sin.
These two commandments are a complete conduct guide for Christians to live by. Most people want to make it complex, but the Bible makes it simple: Love God and love your fellow man.
When you love someone, you don’t steal from them, gossip about them, or lie about them. This is how the law of love guides our conduct. And yet, there is no legalism in the law of love. There is no list of dos and don’ts.
Love can’t be legislated. It isn’t something you can be forced to do. Love is something you begin to do by saying, “I will obey God.” Love is strictly being obedient to do what God said to do.
When my children were growing up, I wasn’t as concerned with how good they acted while I was around as I was with how they acted when I wasn’t nearby. Sure, they would behave as long as Daddy was there. But the mark of whether I did a good job raising them was how they acted when they were away from me.
In the same way, love has to be a part of you. When it’s your way of life, you love no matter who is around. Jesus said that love is to be our rule of conduct. If you love God and love your neighbor, you’ll find that everything else falls into place.
The Code of Love
These two principles—loving God and loving your neighbor—are not a matter only of the heart but of behavior. Love begins in the heart. But when what is on the inside changes the outside, love becomes an action. The way you act toward someone reveals the way you feel about them in your heart.
When we love someone, we do what we can to help them. Jesus gave us a great way to remember how to treat people. It’s often called the Golden Rule, and it’s found in Luke 6:31 (NIV): “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
What are we to do? We are to love God with all of our heart—everything within us. And we are to love our fellow man, doing to others as we would have them do to us.
Before you say a word or react to someone facing any circumstance, ask yourself, “If I were in their situation, how would I want to be treated?” If you answer this question honestly, it will probably change the way you treat that person.
People who gossip often say, “If I were in that situation, I would never have done anything like So-and-So did!” But you don’t know what you would have done because you’ve never been in that person’s shoes. So instead of passing judgment, follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way you would want them to treat you.
We don’t always see a quick return on the love and kindness we show. But if we sow love, we will reap love (Gal. 6:7).
As Christians, we are to live by the code of love. We are to love God with everything we are and everything we have. And we are to love people in thought, word, and deed.
The answer to “What should I do?” isn’t complex or dramatic. It’s very simple: Love God with all of your heart. Love your neighbor and do to others as you would have them do to you. When you follow the law of love, you will live the abundant life and find joy and peace that you never had before.
Kenneth W. Hagin
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