Most of us are very familiar with the “thou shalt not” commands of the Bible. Those things we’re NOT supposed to do, be, or think. Actually we’re so familiar with those we tend to forget that the heart of all Biblical commands is something we are supposed to DO.
Love the Lord your God. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Avoiding the forbidden is a crucial part of loving God, but avoiding wrong actions and thoughts is not the extent of Biblical obedience or Christianity. If we think it is, we will quickly grow bored, independent, and disinterested in God himself–to say nothing of living in disobedience to God.
Have you considered that a person could NOT lie, NOT steal, NOT worship a carved image, NOT commit adultery, NOT murder, NOT gossip, NOT slander, NOT curse, NOT cheat on their taxes, NOT lose their temper, and NOT watch pornography and STILL utterly fail to obey God? Those who have been justified by grace have no hope of achieving righteousness on their own, nor should they think that just by NOT doing these things they are fulfilling their calling as God’s new creations.
God does not call us exclusively or even primarily to NOT do things. He calls us primarily to DO two great commands, filled out and expressed in countless Biblical ways every day and every year of our lives.
What are they?
Love God–love him by reading his Word, talking with him, asking for his power, representing his gospel, declaring his majesty, hoping in his promises, trusting in his peace.
Love Neighbor–love by speaking the truth in love, by encouraging, by serving, by comforting, by bearing burdens, by warning, by sharing, by rejoicing with and weeping with, by dying for.
Unfortunately, we tend to reverse this order and assume that this list of TO-DO commands is for the extra-spiritual, but that normal Christians should rest easy as long as they are avoiding the DON’T activities.
Nothing short of full obedience–saying NO when God has said no, and saying YES when God has said DO, reflects the new nature God has given us, reveals the power of the Holy Spirit, and demonstrates our union with Christ. So, let’s keep avoiding the THOU SHALT NOT. But lets get to DOING the commands. Let us not dismiss sins of omissions as less serious. Let us join the adventure of doing all that God has saved us to do.