The Dos and Do Nots

by | Mar 13, 2024

Dear friends,

In our journey of faith, it’s easy to become entrapped by our efforts to follow the "do nots" of the Bible. As off-putting as this may sound at first, it is possible to become so consumed with avoiding wrong that we forget that God invites us and calls us to a set of "dos" as well. Jesus emphasized this throughout His ministry. A striking instance of this is found in Matthew 23:23, where He rebukes the scribes and Pharisees, saying, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."

Here, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees because they meticulously adhere to ritual law while neglecting the active social elements of the law specifically justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They focused so much on the "thou shalt not steal from God" that they forgot about the command to show justice, mercy, and faithfulness to others. This critique is a reminder to us, not to simply avoid evil actions but to actively pursue manifestations of goodness and righteousness in our lives.

The Pharisees had a passive faith. However, to the layman, they perfectly followed the "do nots" and were an example of righteousness. But to God, who sees all, they were seen as the hypocrites they were. This discrepancy highlights a profound truth: Avoiding wrongdoing is straightforward, it is the displaying of active virtues that is the challenge. It is much easier to simply avoid evil than to put in the effort to pursue good.

Jesus’ teachings are rich with positive instructions, calling us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31), to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15), and to seek peace (Matthew 5:9). These directives invite us to engage in a proactive faith that shapes our actions, relationships, and decisions.

In practice, embracing the "dos" means actively seeking ways to serve others, to spread kindness, and to be a light that points to Christ in our community. It means prioritizing our time so we give ourselves opportunities to leave an impact on others. These actions are the fruits of a faith that truly put into practice the heart of Jesus’ teachings.

Let’s recall James 1:22 to mind, which says, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." This challenge calls us not to merely listen to God’s word but to actively embody it in our daily lives. It’s a call to action, to apply the teachings of Jesus in all areas of our lives.

Our faith cannot reach its fullness by following a list of restrictions alone; faith is a call to action, an invitation to participate in revealing God’s kingdom on Earth. Let’s not be distracted by the "do nots" but be propelled by the boundless opportunities to "do." In doing so, we live not by passive avoidance but by active engagement, not by negativity and critique but by exemplifying all that is good, just, and holy in the sight of God.

Friends, consider where you are today. Have you focused too much on the "do nots"? What "dos" could you choose to embrace this week to reflect the character of Christ in your life?

Let’s all strive to be doers of the word and reflect Christ through our active faith.

Topics: #Action, #Active, #Do, #Doer, #Faith, #Kindness, #Love, #Righteousness