More than a checklist
I’m a checklist kind of person. I like to know what I need to do then get at it so I can check off items from the list. I suppose it is my personality type but I love the process of marking off to-do’s because I feel I’ve accomplished something with my time and efforts. Unfortunately, we as Christians have a history of creating checklists to live by. The Pharisees in the New Testament were notorious for their many religious practices, dos and don’ts. Over the last 2000 years, the church has gone through stages where the focus was on accomplishing the checklist… how far we have strayed from God’s intentions!
Today as I reflect on my Christian walk, I must ask myself some tough questions… When I pray and read the Word, is it to grow closer to God or to check Christian practices off the list? When I give my time or energy to help the less fortunate, am I doing it to share God’s love or to mark off Christian duty? When I go to church, is it truly to worship and encourage my fellow Christians or is it to just because it is what a good Christian is supposed to do?
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus which commandments were the most important. Jesus quickly replied-
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12: 30-31
To which the Pharisee surprisingly replied-
“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33
How shocking to hear such words from a Pharisee but how spot on there are! Old Testament laws required a number of offerings and sacrifices just as today we have created in our minds a list to check off- pray, read the Bible, go to church, tithe, help the poor, etc. While the list is inherently good, if we approach each act with the attitude of ‘get it done and check it off’, we miss the point! Loving God and loving our neighbors is to be our focus. We can do both the loving and the list IF we do so with the right heart and motivation.
Lord, reveal to me where I need to change. Show me where I have turned acts of love into items on a checklist. Jesus never minded having his plans interrupted by people who had needs because he was more focused on loving them than on accomplishing items on a checklist. I want to be more Christ-like! As a teacher, I want my first priority to be my students feeling the love of Christ coming from me even over my curriculum. As a parent, I want my children to see me in love with my Savior and not just working to check off a list so I can be good with God. As a Christian leader, I want others to see my passion is on loving God and others more than following a list! Yet I know I sometimes fall short and revert back to lists so help me to change, Lord, in the ways I need to. Amen!