God showers us daily with unlimited blessing. We may not always appreciate or realize it, but they do come from His hand in a steady flow. Food, shelter, the beauty around us, even the breath of life in our lungs.
What does the Lord ask of us in return? He explicitly revealed this to the returned exiles from Babylon through the prophet Zechariah – that we acknowledge Him as Lord in our hearts and demonstrate it by our actions towards others. He explained that the peoples’ failure to do so led to their exile from Judah in the first place.
8 The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: 9 “The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another. 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder; they closed their ears so they could not hear. 12 They made their hearts like a rock so as not to obey the law or the words that the Lord of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of Hosts. 13 Just as He had called, and they would not listen, so when they called, I would not listen,” says the Lord of Hosts. 14 “I scattered them with a windstorm over all the nations that had not known them, and the land was left desolate behind them, with no one coming or going. They turned a pleasant land into a desolation.” Zechariah 7:8-14 (HCSB)
These words still have important meaning and application for us today. God’s priorities never change. Will we be perfect about this? Never. But He is perfect in His forgiveness when we fail if we turn to Him in repentance and seek to make right the harm we have done.
When asked about the two most important commandments, Jesus replied to love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Not easy to do, but it is important to Him that we make the effort.
Bad habits and attitudes are like weights that slow us down and trip us up on our life’s journey. They are addictive and hard to strip off without God’s powerful help. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. Romans 6:16-18 (HCSB)
We are righteous because our faith in Christ covers us with God’s holiness and purity. His strength helps us to put down whatever sin is entangling us and leads us away from those old familiar paths of destruction. We are blessed to live in an era of grace and mercy because of the loving sacrifice of Jesus. Let us not turn a stubborn shoulder to the amazing God who loves us so much that He did not even spare His own beloved Son for our eternal redemption.
Father God, through Your Holy Spirit make Your priorities the priorities of my heart. Forgive me for all the times I have shown coldness and hardness towards the vulnerable ones whom You love so much. Help me to make amends for my foolish words and actions, and to become a useful and holy instrument for Your purposes. Free us from harmful addictions or slavery to evil. We ask this in the loving and powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen!
1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1 (HCSB)