December 19

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; Psalm 19:7 

All who obey his commandments abide in God, and God abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. I John 3:24 

Many times people are not so happy if they have to follow all the rules. We have rules for many things, parents have rules for their children to follow, and there are rules when driving a car, earning money and filing taxes, safety rules and lots more. There are many rules/laws that no longer make sense and may sound silly, but that are still on the books. Then, if a person doesn’t know a rule, they don’t follow it and there are problems. Rules are in place to keep us safe, to help us live in harmony with others, and to keep society functioning. Sometimes it seems there are just too many rules for any one person to actually know so that they can follow them. 

Then we look at the rules that God has set out for us to follow. The psalmist tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect – no silly rules, no extra rules – just the rules we need to live as He intended. The Talmud says that there are 613 commandments that are laid out in the Torah – 248 Positive ones (the do’s), and 365 negative (the don’ts.) There is however no list of all these commandments in the Talmud. (If you would like to see a list, try Chabad.org, they have one). At the top of any list are belief in God, one God and no other. Then to love Him, fear Him and sanctify His name. You might like # 608, He who has taken a wife, built a new home, or planted a vineyard is given a year to rejoice with his possessions – Deuteronomy 24:5. 

 Of course we have the 10 commandments to follow, and the great commandment that Jesus gave us – to love the Lord our God above all and our neighbors as ourselves. That really sums it up, whether for God’s laws or our own society’s rules, Love God and others. This is not complicated; there are no detailed rituals to follow, or specific words to say. In the Psalm it says the simple will be made wise through God’s work, all we need to do is read it and follow. 

From the Good News translation the verse from I John reads: “Those who obey God’s commands live in union with God and God lives in union with them. And because of the Spirit that God has given us we know that God lives in union with us.” This is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises that He will be there with us, forgiving us when we stray, and giving us wisdom as we strive to learn about and follow His commandments to love one another. 

Spirit of God, enter our hearts and stay for a while. Help us to love you above all else. Remind us of your commandments, for too often we do forget. Give us the simplicity we need to see you at work in the world and give us the wisdom we need to submit to you at work in our lives. Renew and increase in us your Spirit and empower us for your work today.  Amen

Chris Gabel