As a kid I was taught that there are certain rules of life that I should follow. I was taught that I should always do what is right and always do what I say. I was taught to be respectful toward everyone.
I was taught that hard work will always be rewarded. I realize that I don’t always do what is right, although I try; an affliction we all possess. I have also learned that hard work is not always rewarded.
However, I understand that the first rules are not negotiable, but are commanded by God. I understand that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do, even if I am not rewarded. These are some basic rules for living.
The rule of love was given to us by Jesus Christ. When asked which commandment in the law is the greatest, Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40, et al)
By practicing these two commandments and all that they embrace, we are doing our best to live according to the law and the prophets. We will not always get it right.
Yet, the rule of love tells us that we must practice certain responsibilities. The rule of love demands that we accept everyone as a beloved child of God. It reminds us that we are all longing to be accepted, and that we have no right to reject others. The rule of love frees us from the burden of judgement.
The incredible weight of judging others can crush our own spirit. I don’t want to carry the weight of judgement. It is dark and dreadful. It keeps us from fully experiencing the beauty and diversity of God’s creation.
We must celebrate our differences, not separate ourselves because of our differences. The rule of love tells us to uphold the dignity of one another, even strangers and our enemies. It is a tall order, but it is a commandment, not a suggestion.
When Jesus was teaching His first disciples to pray, He included the phrase, “Forgive us our sins (debts, trespasses, shortcomings, differences), as we have also forgiven others of their sins.” (Matthew 6:12).
Then He goes on to say, “If you forgive (accept, respect, value) others, God will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14-15). It’s a give and take proposition.
The weight of judgement is lifted from our shoulders when we decide to forgive, accept, and value others. Everyone wants (needs) to be loved and accepted. If there were ever a time to begin practicing the rule of love, the best time would be now. Wouldn’t you agree?
Blessings and Peace to You All,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at noon on Thursdays and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.