Faith of Heart, Not of Deeds

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Mark 12:28-37

Well would you look at that, a wise scribe! I love how the scribe states that the greatest two commandments are much more important than burn offerings. It’s so easy to become like the Pharisees and get legalistic, to worry too much about what you are doing. Worse, we like to compare our deeds to the deeds of others to reassure ourselves of how righteous we are! But faith is not some checklist for us to keep. It’s all about loving God and loving others. And if we really and honestly love like that, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our actions will fall into place naturally.

This is hard for me. It is way easier for me to, for example, abstain from drunkenness than it is for me to be filled with the Spirit. (see Ephesians 5:18) Maybe it’s because of how tangible deeds are, so it’s easy to see whether I’m doing it right. But it is way easier for me to control my actions than my heart. And maybe even the language I use gives a clear idea why: trying to control my feelings! You can’t make yourself feel love, it just sort of washes over you. But it’s hard to feel such an intense emotion all the time. Maybe that’s why helping your neighbor can be easier sometimes than loving your neighbor. I wish Jesus gave more advice on how to live this way.

The question about David’s son story confused me, but I found the way it was worded in Matthew to be more helpful. Basically the point is that the Messiah can’t be David’s son because He has to be God’s son. Which I guess the crowds loved, but is the main thing the Chief Priests will use against Jesus at His trial.

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