I was reading the other day, and thinking about how often we read the Bible with preconceived notions. We sometimes think the Bible is a guide that tells us what to do or not to do. But a good portion of the Bible tells us, not what to do, but how to be. Even the Ten Commandments don’t tell us what to do— rather they tell us what we should NOT do.
God has given each of us free will, and created us with distinct skills and personalities and sets of circumstances. We will not– indeed we cannot– all do the same things. God doesn’t expect it of us. And He does not expect us to earn our salvation by what we do. What He does expect is that we will do those things that bring us closer to Him and closer to the people we were meant to be. His power will take care of the rest.
We have a tendency to get caught up in what we (and what others around us) are doing; we tend to judge and compare and criticize. Instead, we should concentrate on who and what we are becoming:
- We want to learn–but do we want to be teachable?
- We want to make money– but do we want to be generous?
- We want to build a reputation– but do we want to be honest and reliable?
- We want to have friends– do we want to be available?
- We want a family–do we want to be intimately known and knowable?
- We want freedom–do we want to be responsible?
- We want justice– do we want to be just?
- We want happiness–do we want to be content with what we have?
Jesus didn’t give His disciples a long “to do” list. He didn’t give them detailed lists of things to do. He gave them “Beatitudes”– “Be” “Attitudes”
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3-12
Of course, much of who we are and who we become depends on what we do. And it is important to do what is right and honorable, just and compassionate. But it’s the “being” that is the goal, not merely the “doing.” God knows we cannot “do” what it takes to be perfectly righteous in our own power. But He will give us the guidance, the strength, and the encouragement to “become” more like Him as we live out the above attitudes.