Mark 12:30-31

30 AND YOU SHALL 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, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NASB)

This is Jesus answer when asked about the greatest commandment. The scribe asking it agreed with Jesus answer, and the scribe commented that God wanted this obedience more than all sacrifices. Jesus told the scribe that he was close to the kingdom of God.

For the Jews that he spoke to, this would have been a summary of the Old Covenant Law. This was their standard, and anything short required repentance and sacrifice. The scribe’s comments seem to indicate that he understood the concept that sacrifices were not an end unto themselves.  They were required, because we could not keep this law perfectly. God preferred obedience, rather than sacrifice. Knowing this, the scribe was close to accepting who Jesus was. Perhaps when Peter spoke at Pentecost, this scribe accepted the Gospel and became a believer.

How can we apply this passage as New Covenant believers? We are not under a law of rules and regulations, but under the law of love. Does this passage not detail the “requirements” of the law of love? We, too, cannot keep this law perfectly, but our sacrifice has been made by Jesus, God Himself. Therefore, we are free to live this out (with the Holy Spirit’s help) without the shame and guilt of condemnation.

Christmas Letters

I have been thinking on the tradition of Christmas letters. I was first introduced to the tradition by good friends of our family. They were like second parents to my brother and I. For years, they were the only one that I knew that sent them.

Fast forward to my college years. My roommate for two of the years in college was Lori. Her mom sent out Christmas letters each year. After she got married, she continued the tradition, as did her sisters. I enjoyed keeping up with my friends in this way, so I was inspired to begin the tradition. I don’t do it faithfully, but I do get it done in some years. Lori passed away 11 years ago, but every time Christmas comes around and I get letters from her mom and sisters or I actually get a letter out, I know she smiles down from heaven.

This year, I did not get it accomplished before Christmas, so a I am going to break with tradition, and send out a “New Year’s” letter. It has been several years since I sent a letter, and I don’t want to wait until next year. Perhaps I will start a whole new tradition…Or maybe I’ll go back to the pre-Christmas timeframe for next year.

A Day on the Road

I had a good drive from Florida back to Georgia today. The vast majority of it was just normal traffic. However, there was one incident that stood out.

After filling up the gas tank in Cordelle, I was getting back onto I-75. On the ramp in front of me was a tanker truck. There were two lanes on the ramp, but the right lane was labeled to merge onto the left lane before merging. The tanker, which was accelerating slowly, moved to the right lane. The drivers let me accelerate past him, then he slid back to the left lane to continue up the lamp.

Such a simple gesture of politeness. He obviously knew that he would be slow up the ramp and that he could easily let me by. I was surprised by it, and it dismayed me that I was surprised. Simple politeness in traffic is so rare, and that really is a shame. Like this truck, most of the time politeness wouldn’t even cost us any time or real trouble. It just takes thinking about those around us.

I hope this experience reminds me to think about the other drivers around me, and to think of their needs, rather than just my own.