The Christian ethos is perhaps the simplest in the world.
And the hardest to live.
Its difficulty might be why so few people, including the great majority of Christians themselves, rarely attempt to follow it.
Instead, we Christians, at least, spend a disproportionate amount of our time railing about godless government officials or the war on Christmas or who’s going to pee in whose restroom.
I think it might be healthier for us to return occasionally to Christianity 101 — which is to say, to the New Testament. It’s a real eye-opener, you know.
As fodder for thought, I present here some straightforward, and tough, sayings from Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles.
Good luck in mastering these commandments. If you can, you’re a better person than I am, that’s for sure.
▪ Never get angry with your fellow travelers, even if they’re idiots.
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” —Matthew 5:21-22.
▪ If someone you dislike demands you do something you don’t want to do, then voluntarily do far more than he demands.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” — Matthew 5:38-42.
▪ Be merciful to your worst enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” — Matthew 5:43-46.
▪ Choose poverty over wealth.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19-21.
▪ Forgive endlessly.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” — Matthew 18:21-22.
▪ Want to be a leader? Then become a slave.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’” — Matthew 20:25-28.
▪ Always treat everyone fairly — and never grumble about your pay.
“Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.’” — Luke 3:14.
▪ Release your worries and fears; instead, trust God.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” — John 14:27.
▪ Just be nice. All the time.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” — 2 Timothy 2:24.
▪ Remember that you don’t know everything.
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’” — 1 Peter 5:5.
How you doing so far here, friends?
Yeah, me neither.
It might behoove us to spend less energy railing about others’ failings, and more energy working on our own fallen natures.
Paul Prather is pastor of Bethesda Church near Mount Sterling. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.