Start with the Basics

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We tend to think it’s complicated to know God’s will. We like to complicate things. Perhaps we feel smarter when we understand complex concepts. Or maybe tackling difficult jobs increases our feeling of accomplishment. 

But the Gospel is straight-forward, and simple enough that even a child can understand it. Both Christ and his teachings were simple and practical. And because we complicate them, we tend to think, “How can I ever know his will?”

But knowing God’s will, or finding his purpose for our life, though not easy to put into practice, is much more simple than we make it.

I am God Most High! The only sacrifice I want is for you to be thankful and to keep your word. — Psalm 50:14

“That’s all God wants from us?” we ask.

And thinking that’s too simple, we add our own lists. Pray a certain length of time daily. Attend every church service. Tithe. Never, ever get angry. Thinking that making these ‘sacrifices’, makes us pleasing to the Lord. And while these things are all good, they over-complicate, and risk drawing us away from God, making us think we’ve got to be good enough. “If I’m good enough, surely God will speak, and show me his will.”

Micah 6:8 is one of my favorite Scriptures:

The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: ‘See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.’ — Micah 6:8

But Micah presents a sad story.

You store up stolen treasures and use dishonest scales. But I, the LORD, will punish you for cheating with weights and with measures. You rich people are violent, and everyone tells lies. — Micah 6:10-12

Going through the right motions, while failing to obey

God was speaking to the Israelites. His people, who already knew right from wrong. They knew God’s will—what he wanted, but chose not to do it.

Yet, they continued their religious life. Going to the temple, praying, and offering sacrifices. They taught, they preached. And on the surface, it seems, they wanted to know God’s will. Undoubtedly they asked the ‘prophets’, “Tell us what God is saying.”

God spoke, revealing this will, through Micah and his contemporaries: Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. But they didn’t listen. They were too busy fulfilling their own religious requirements.

Likewise, until we listen, God cannot show his will. We hinder him. He’s working and speaking, but we’re too busy tending to things ourselves. The Israelites evil actions kept them from hearing God or following his will. But evil is not the only thing which can hinder this.

Back to the basics

We often get so busy making ourselves good and religious, that we get in the way. Almost always, in God’s dealings with his people, he called them back to the old paths. Come back to the simplicity of my Word and my ways.

And still today, God calls us to this. We’d like to know his will for our lives, jobs, marriages, and in our service toward him. We’d like to get more from our time in the Word, and our times of prayer.

But we skip the basics. We’d like to know the deeper things, when we haven’t mastered the basics, and still don’t put them into practice. Sort of like a child trying to read before learning the alphabet and phonetics.

The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: ‘See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.’  —Micah 6:8

“He’s already told you what to do,” Micah was saying.

“Now he’s waiting for you to do it.”

And God is still saying the same thing today. “You have my Word, but you neglect it, and don’t put into practice the things you already know. How can I show you more?”

My marriage with Mario has changed through 37 years together. It’s deeper, and more profound. Why? Because we know each other’s thoughts and feelings. Through time together, we come to know each other better year after year.

Would you like to know God’s will? His purpose for your life? He has told you what is right, and what he demands. Start doing that which you know to do, and he will continue to make things clear.

The Gospel is simple. And so is following God. Never easy, and true discipleship will cost everything. But it’s not hard to hear a voice you know so well. And not hard to obey a heart tied to yours.

We know the basics— doing justice, loving mercy, and obeying what we already know. If we start with them, the rest will come!

[Image via: PublicDomainPictures]

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