Rev Moss

I love crossing off items on my to-do list. Sometimes when I’m writing a to-do list, I’ll even list jobs I’ve already done… just so I can get the satisfaction of crossing them off straight away. It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something without having to do any extra work.

Sadly, I sometimes reduce my relationship with God down to a to-do list. I fall into the trap of thinking that his love for me increases the more I can cross off his to-do list. I believe that my relationship with God all depends on how much I can do – like some of the relationships we have with other people. It is a mistake that many of us can make.

But in God’s kingdom, God is always more concerned with the state of our hearts than the state of our ‘to-do lists’. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus challenges our reliance on rule keeping. He says,

21‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.’

Most of us would say that we’re able to cross “You shall not murder” off the list. However, when Jesus digs down to the heart of the law, it leaves us all exposed. That’s because anger and murder have the same agenda: to take life from people. Anger is just like murder, except it’s a non-physical attack. Jesus is talking about anger that builds up and lashes out at people around us.

When Jesus exposes the heart of “You shall not murder”, we learn that none of us can cross it off on our to-do lists. Every single day, our hearts are exposed and turn away from God.

However, Jesus’ motivation in exposing our hearts is not to burden us with guilt but to help us recognise our need for his grace. God has enough grace to forgive us and enough grace to continue offering us a life-giving relationship with him. Where we have failed, Jesus has succeeded. It’s his righteousness, not our own, that allows us to claim a relationship with our creator. What amazing grace.