Saturday, September 4, 2010

We Get Out Of It What We Put Into It.

I remember when I attended elementary public school, the whole school seemed to be governed by one rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Any time there was an argument or a shoving match in the school yard the teacher or principal would lecture the offenders on this rule. I was a bit confused when I discovered it in the Bible; I had no idea they were quoting scripture to us. During those days it was referred to as the "golden" rule. It was the rule that summed up everything. That is what Jesus taught:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

It sums up the Law and the prophets. This leads me to conclude that it also sums up the two greatest commandments:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " '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." (Matthew 22:36-40)

When I look at what Jesus said, "So in everything..." I also look at the context and note that it is recorded in the context of "Ask, Seek, Knock". As I consider all this I begin to realize that when Jesus said "So in everything ..." he was also referring to our relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

This is more than a rule to govern children's behaviour on the school ground and it is more than a rule to guide adults through life. This rule also guides us in our relationship with God. Makes sense.

We need to put effort into our relationship with Jehovah. Too often we put very little effort into it at all, yet we expect all the benefits. Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock when we have needs. Did you notice that these three things take effort? You actually have to have conversation in order to ask. You need to walk up to the door and use effort to knock. It takes more effort and time to seek. We want blessings from God but we forget we need to bless God as well. We desire love but we forget that giving love often makes our hearts receptive to receiving love. We need to put into the relationship what we hope to get out of it, just like a marriage.

In a marriage, if you have one person giving all the time and one person doing all the receiving, we are soon going to find heartache. Such an important relationship as this requires effort from both people, gladly giving and gladly receiving in a growing, vibrant relationship. A marriage cannot survive if one partner expects all the benefits of marriage without putting any effort into the relationship. It is wrong and unfair to be selfishness in such a thing as this and it will soon lead to all kinds of problems if you are, such as resentment, anger, even hatred. Thankfully our God is much bigger than this and certainly more gracious. At the same time we could never come close to out giving him, however, in order for the relationship to grow we must give back.

Do not mistake what I am saying. I am speaking about growing an already established relationship. We cannot earn God's grace. What he has done for us, rescuing us from the penalty of the law for our sins, was not done because we earned it or bought it or even deserved it, but because he graciously offered it. Only the sacrifice of Jesus has the power to restore us to the Father. What I am speaking of here is what needs to govern "all things" in our lives in our relationship with the Father.

We are a people who should never hold back our affection and adoration for our God. We are a people who should give generously in our time, talents, and tithes in response to the love and mercy he lavishes on us every day. We are a people who should be actively pursuing a greater, stronger, deeper relationship with our God.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

I really think this is Jesus polite way of saying that "we get out of it what we put into it" when it comes to our relationship with him, the Father and the Spirit. Sit back and put no effort in it and you will not recognize the blessings or the love of the Lord; press forward, giving generously to the relationship in every way and you will richly receive in return. Just like a marriage.

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