The recent series of sermons on Hosea have benefitted many. I was touched by sister Qin Ting’s honest response in last week’s bulletin – on how the good things in her life could be worshipped as other gods.
I believe each of us have our own daily dilemmas. When we are faced with whether to accept good things such as – a promotion, buying a car, upgrading to a new house, sending the children to enrichment classes, spending lavishly on food and drinks, etc. – how do we decide? Is God just a stern Father waiting to wag his finger at us? As Christians are we to constantly live under a shadow of guilt and uncertainty, wondering if our decision pleases God? Every now and then we will come across alternatives to choose from, or decisions we need specific guidance from God. But for now I ask us to consider putting something in our hearts; so that fortified by it, we are so much more at peace when it comes to making decisions. I call this something – “more of God”.
In Mark 12, a teacher of the law came and asked Jesus a question. From a commentary I read, the teachers of the law had taken the 10 commandments which Moses gave the Israelites, and expanded them: 365 negatives (you shall not…) and 248 positives (you shall…). So, it was easy for the Jews to think that their faith was just about a series of dos and don’ts – something quite transactional.
In response to his question “Of all the commandments which is the most important?” Jesus, immediately answered him:- “The most important one 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 neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus’ answer was not transactional at all. To me, He was saying: it is good that you teach the people the dos and the don’ts. But, first and foremost, all these actions in your lives must flow out of your love for God, and your love for the people God brings into your lives each day.
We can practise many different ways to increase our love for God. For me one of two things I strive to do each day, apart from spending some time in a short devotional, is to cultivate the habit of conversing with God through the day. “Lord, I am facing a difficult question now; what do I do?”, I often say to Him in the middle of my working day. I often get peace and then use my training, intellect, and the collective wisdom of others whom I consult, and decide.
When it comes to things that tempt me to sin, I often pray: “Lord, this thing is not of You, it displeases You – take it away from me as far as the east is from the west.” After a while, the temptation’s attempt to get a hold over me is dislodged, and my heart is settled once again. No doubt each of you can practice different disciplines to grow in your love for God and your neighbour. As well as the rejection of the things the Evil One throws our way constantly to prevent the former.
May God help each of us as we seek to say to Him each day, “Father, give me more of You today”.
By brother Daniel John