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We seem to be a people very skilled in arithmetic.  Oh, we would not see it that way, and we might even say we are not good in math.  But I beg to differ.

Let’s start with addition.  Don’t you find that we’re always adding to our list of essentials, making more and more things seem necessary all the time?  What was once enough no longer is.  The term “less is more” is a recognition of that and a call to return to something simpler.

And boy, are we ever good at taking away.  If the truth doesn’t quite suit our needs, we just overlook a fact or two and we’re looking good once again.

Mulitiplication?  Well, that’s just glorified addition.  It’s cipherin’ on a grand scale!  But division, now that’s not just taking away many times over.  It draws lines.  It separates and categorizes and causes all sorts of trouble.  It creates everything from minor squabbles to world wars.

So this got me to thinking about laws, specifically God’s laws.  He started out just saying one thing, but when people couldn’t handle that, He had Moses write down 10 more.  Then there were a few books written to explain how to live out those 10 essential things.  This was not overkill.  This was necessary.  But here’s the thing:  Some folks got all tangled up in the particulars of the law and they forgot why the laws were written in the first place.  Then, instead of thinking for themselves and applying a few principles to their lives, they became more concerned with the fine points.

Enter Jesus.  He has such a beautiful way of boiling it down.  You know what He said?  He said the most important thing we can do is to love the Lord our God with everything we’ve got.  That’s it.  And when we do that, we will love other people just as much as we love ourselves, which is really quite a bit.

That is the sum total of what God wants of us.  It’s all about love.  We must not take away from what He said, nor should we add to it.  If we do things because of love, it’s love.  If we do things without love, it’s meaningless.  And when we love Him, the rest comes naturally.

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I heard two young women talking after church one morning.  I was standing nearby, trying not to be obvious about the fact that I was listening in, but I was.  They were talking about faith and works, mostly faith.  (That is the more spiritual subject, isn’t it?)

One said to the other, “The Christian life is not about works.”  The other agreed, nodding her head as they both recalled the sermon we’d just heard, and were trying to apply it.  After all, we’re supposed to figure out how what we just heard from the Bible applies to our lives today, right?

I’ll never forget their looks of surprise when I interjected my opposition.  “Yes it is.  The Christian life is all about works!”  I went on to explain that it’s a “which came first” thing.  We don’t work our way into right standing with God, but we express our faith by doing something – doing a lot of things, good things.

The Bible says, in the New Testament, that God made us for this very purpose.  It says that this was all planned even before the earth was created (Ephesians 2:10).  The things we are supposed to do were all set in place.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  The need has always been there.  There’s always been something good to do, something to set right, something to make better or more beautiful.  Now, we are to “walk in them” – in other words, do the work!

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