Imagine that your only daughter just came home and announced that her boyfriend had proposed and that she accepted. But before you could react, she added this little tidbit: Along with the diamond ring, he gave her a list, all too short, of what he was willing to do as her husband. He would work a full time job, and carry out the trash and mow the lawn, but that was it. In return, she came up with her own list: she is willing to keep the house clean and cook five nights a week, but that she will only do three loads of laundry per week and expects to be taken out to dinner on weekends. Would you be happy for your daughter and advise this marriage to take place? Does this marriage sound like it is based on love, one that will last until they part through death? It sounds very doubtful, doesn’t it? (Analogy borrowed from Shauna Manfredine of Lighted Way Ministries www.lightedway.org)
Scripture repeatedly likens the church to the bride of Christ, and uses marriage as a symbol of the relationship between God and man. God has already done everything from love that He could do by giving the life of his only begotten son to save us from our sins. Yet in return, we as the bride seem to have a short list of what we are willing to do. We see examples for our admonition in Scripture that are different from what we do today, and we come up with all kinds of excuses. I think that was just for Israel. Times have changed. It tastes good. It isn’t convenient. I’d lose my job. It would interfere with my usual routine. In other words: Sorry, God, but that isn’t on my short list.
A weekly email newsletter I receive (www.thinkredink.com) illustrated the short list concept with an analogy to trying to buy fire insurance for the cheapest possible price. If your attitude toward God’s ways is, “Do I have to …(insert item here, such as tithe, refrain from sexually immoral behavior, keep your Sabbath, avoid pagan holidays, etc)…to be saved?” what you are really saying to God is, “What is the very least I can do to avoid the flames of hell?” But the truth is this: if you expect to get to heaven while giving God the least possible amount of your time, resources, and heart, then you should accept the fact that you are probably going to hell anyway, and you might as well sin to your heart’s content and enjoy it, without concerning yourself with the “drudgery” of trying to serve him part way. Clearly, with that attitude, you don’t have a love for him anyway.
We seem to think that getting into heaven is a bit like passing a test in school. As long as we profess our faith loudly we act as though we can slough off on the works part, and who cares if we get a D minus, because we still get the diploma. As long as we just do barely enough, maybe we can sneak into heaven on our short list. Does this show God our love for him? If we truly loved him, and made him the Lord of our lives, we would be anxious to turn aside every sin, and be obedient to every bit of guidance he gave for our own good. We wouldn’t be asking “do we have to?” every time we see an example that Jesus set. Instead, we would anxiously, gladly, earnestly walk in it, and keep mining the word for more.
When we have truly committed to give God our full heart and live in obedience, rather than thinking that with our short list we have dutifully performed our share and deserve some type of reward, we will have the humble attitude found in Luke 17:10, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our duty to do.’”
Rather than maintaining a short list as “fire insurance” to avoid the flames of hell, why don’t you focus instead on removing all disobedience and sin from your lives, and truly committing to living your life as a suitable bride of Christ? You can do this by following every bit of the truth that he has shown you so far, and continuing to seek more and more of his truth.