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Sharing the Word: Mandates: God’s or Man’s

By HARRY MARTINEZ

Many of us have grown up in a religious atmosphere of man- made do’s and don’ts.  Specifically, we found ourselves trying to live up to a list of behaviors that somehow became the supposed standard of being spiritual.
Yet within each of us there existed that nagging thought that behavior is a form of works that can never match up to the perfection and character of God.  How encouraging it was to come to an understanding that God deals with us in grace and the do’s and don’ts of Scripture deal with our fellowship and spiritual growth, not our standing or relationship with Christ.
Our spiritual standing is based on faith in Christ, not on behavior.  However for the sake of our spiritual well being, the Scriptures admonish us to heed God’s mandates and not fret when we see those who are practicing evil seemly prosper …
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Ps 37:1).
When Scripture declares a “don’t,” it also gives a positive alternative of greater importance and power. The Psalmist states … “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Ps 37:3-8).
By putting into practice the positive commands that David gave us through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we demonstrate a mental attitude that is free from worry, competition, and vindictiveness.  An attitude of appreciation, thankfulness, compassion and humility characterizes our life style.
We are able then to fulfill the commands given to us by the Apostle Paul … “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro 12:15 – 21). Instead of worrying and reacting to adverse situations, the Christian is encouraged to commit his every need to the Lord …
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).