June 22, 2019
No Extra Credit Needed
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 (NIV)
My husband James was working hard with the kids in the front yard, fixing parts of the fence and driveway. They had been sweating for hours.
I didn't even put him up to it.
Our neighbor dropped by and made a comment that caught my attention: "You must be scoring some major extra credit with your wife!"
In my neighbor's mind, chores like sealing the driveway and fixing the fence were almost direct "commands" from a wife's honey-do list. In his mind, I must have been the happiest wife in the neighborhood! But in my family, I don't notice things like creaking fences or chipping driveways.
I'm pretty oblivious to those details. I can't remember ever making a home improvement honey-do list for James - partly because of the way I'm wired, and partly because James always tackles the home improvement projects way before I perceive them.
As I thought about the assumption that my husband was scoring major extra credit points with me, it made me think of God.
There are times when I do something and think, Wow, this will really score some extra credit with God! But in reality, maybe I'm just busying myself with things God never asked me to do.
Perhaps some activities filling my calendar need to be deleted to make room for the things on God's to-do list. Thankfully, the Bible helps us understand what's most important to the heart of God.
Consider today's key verse from Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Another Scripture defines true religion: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27, NIV).
When one of the religious teachers asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, Jesus replied with these truths straight from the Old Testament, "... ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31, NIV).
These things matter to God. To steer us toward them, we can ask ourselves questions like:
How can we use our time and finances to help the poor?
How can we show justice, not just in a courtroom, but in a living room when our kids bring us a problem?
How can we walk with God daily, making our social media feeds a fragrant offering to Him?
Sometimes my kids miss homework deadlines. Then they must get busy doing extra credit to make up some of their lost points. That's not how God works. He's not a teacher waiting to "grade us" on our Christianity.
What a great reminder: We don't have to put in extra credit to get in God's good graces. He's already our loving Father who simply wants to walk with us.
Heavenly Father, how amazing that You, the God of the universe, want to walk with me! Help me understand what is important to Your heart. I want to love You and love people, serve the poor, and act justly. Keep me on Your path and away from sin. Keep my heart unspoiled by the world. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (NIV)
1 Samuel 15:22, "But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.'" (NIV)
Fears. Faults. Failures. Frailties. Every woman at some point wonders: Do I have to overcome all my weaknesses before God can use me? The answer is no; He can use you right now. You have not missed out - there's still potential in the season you are in. Learn more as we study Hidden Potential by Wendy Pope. Our next Online Bible Study begins Monday, June 22! Click here to register for free.
Parents can sometimes get stuck focusing on stuff that's not very important. Arlene Pellicane's book, Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What's Right, will help parents prioritize what matters. When implemented correctly, these eight strategies will make a radical difference in your home.
Stop by Arlene's website today for more encouragement to keep following God's heart.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What activity could you alter or remove from your schedule to give you more time to focus on what's eternally important?
In the past, what have you done mostly because you wanted to earn favor ("extra credit") with God? Consider your motivation. In the future, make the choice to serve out of love, rather than a desire to get on God's good side.
Join the conversation! We'd love to hear from you in our comments.
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