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What Should We Do?

February 24, 2019
By Rev. David French

Have you ever wondered what God wants you to do? As you probably know from your own reading of the gospels, last week’s lesson was the first half of the sermon Jesus gave on the mount and later finished on the plain. After the healings and the proclaiming of blessings and woes, He continues with a list of things for those who hear Him, that means believers, to do. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “What does God want me to do?” then this is your lucky day.

This, of course, is not the only list God gives us. For example, when Jesus was asked by the rich young man in Mathew 19 what he had to do to be saved, Jesus basically said obey the commandments. When told, I’ve already done that, Jesus repied,”If you want to be perfect sell everything you have and follow Me,” and then young man turned and went away sad. A few verses later the disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them (and is looking at us as well) and said, “With man this (or salvation) is impossible, (and here’s the key for all biblical lists) but with God all things are possible.”

So today Jesus gives us another list of things for those who hear Him when He says in Luke 6:35, “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great.” But this list is no more doable than any other list we might find. The truth is, what we’re asking isn’t really what should we do. We all know the difference between right and wrong, as God revealed through Jeremiah, “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”  Don’t we, who know Christ, know that when we show love and goodness, it’s the result of God, the Holy Spirit working through us? Have you not found in your own life the truth of Paul’s words, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out.”?

The truth is, we don’t want a list that shows us our sins. We want a list of things we, not God, can do, and so prove to ourselves and to others that we’re saved or at least doing our part toward our salvation. But that implies that we still think that there’s something we can do to earn our salvation.

Tell me, why do you think that we, in our heart of hearts, continue to believe that we need to add to what Christ has done for us? You know that on the cross of Calvary Christ poured out His blood to pay for your sins and mine. You know the words Jesus cried out “It is finished!” You know that Jesus was raised from the dead for your justification. You know the Scriptures teach that everything that needs to be done for your salvation has been done.

So, what is it after years of living in God’s kingdom that leads us to continue to ask, “what should we do to get God’s kingdom?” The fact is, we’re still living in a world that calls good “evil” and evil “good.” We see, experience, feel, and live our sin every day, and we only hear about our forgiveness. We continue to struggle with our sinful nature and wonder why, but the truth is, we will always have that struggle on this side of heaven.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Defending the truth that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone is a battle that the Church has been fighting since the time of her beginning. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. ... This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you” (1:6-7, 2:4-5).

The questions we have about our Christian living are serious, and I believe they come from concern, not doubt. But, I know they’re not going to be answered by me suggesting another list of things to do. I can only point you to the cross of Jesus Christ, because it is the power of His gospel that gives us the ability to live as His children.

Being a Christian isn’t about what we do, even when it’s good. It’s about what we are, as children of God. That’s the point of the lesson for today. It’s not about loving or blessing or praying. It’s about the gospel changing hearts; a change that happens in response to God’s love, a change that leads to our loving and blessing and praying as His Spirit guides us. 

All of these things are good - when they come from a heart that believes the forgiveness we ourselves have received is real. It is God’s word alone that creates and sustains the faith that trusts in Christ alone. So, no matter the question, I will continue to point you to Christ and His cross where all of our questions were answered when our sins were paid for.

Certainly, we try to live God-pleasing lives. We do that by following the commands He has already given in His Word and written on our hearts. These are pleasing to God unless they come from hearts that see these as things that will earn God’s love instead of things that are fruits of God’s love. As we read in the book of Hebrews 11:6a, “And without faith it is impossible to please God ….”

The question we should be asking is, “How can we do what God has already told us we should do?” not, “What should we do?” Look at our lesson for today. After Jesus goes through this list, He basically says to do all these and your reward will be great. Now look at the next words where He defines that reward, “And you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and evil.” That is, He is kind to you and me, who as you well know, though we may try, we daily we fall short of His command to love.

Of course, we want and should let our light shine before men so they can see our good deeds, but remember the rest of that verse is ... not so they will recognize and admire us or so we can prove we are who we say we are. The verse found in Matthew 5 reads, “...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

If you want to know what you should do, I would say, “Be who you are, a forgiven child of God. Be in His Word so that your faith will be sustained in your daily struggles. Be regular in your use of His Supper, the gift of His very body and blood given and shed for you and the forgiveness of your sins. Be in prayer because there is great comfort offered to all with His promise to always hear and answer you. And always remember your baptism, for it was there that God made you His child and promised, to always with you.”

In His Name, Amen.

Tags: Luke 6:27-38