Fox Byte #21: Pretend Soldiers

Three warriors who bent the rules to fight for their countries in time of war:  Calvin Graham, 12-year-old US Navy veteran of World War II; Frances Clalin Clayton, aka Jack Williams, who enlisted as a man in the US Army during the American Civil War; and Hua Mulan, who served in the army of ancient China in place of her aged father.

Three warriors who bent the rules to fight for their countries in time of war:  Calvin Graham, 12-year-old US Navy veteran of World War II; Frances Clalin Clayton, aka Jack Williams, who enlisted as a man in the US Army during the American Civil War; and Hua Mulan, who served in the army of ancient China in place of her aged father.

Now we come to something very important.  We should want to produce “good fruit” and store up treasure in heaven, but just doing good things is not enough.  Going through the motions to do good things because they seem right, or because someone told us to do them, or to impress someone, or for any reason other than what God explained really does no good at all.  And what did God say?  That is another question someone asked Yeshua.  He answered it this way:

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment,  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV)

Love, then, should be our motivation – love of God, and love of other people.  The Apostle Paul said as much when he wrote, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Galatians 5:14 NKJV)  But then we come to another question:  What is love?

There is only one definition of love that matters, and that is God’s definition.  After all, He is the One Who loved us first, He is the One we are supposed to love, He is the One Who makes it possible for us to love, and He is the One Who decides how He wants to be loved.  We cannot love others until we first understand how to love Him.  So did He tell us how to do that?  Yes, He did:

If you love me, keep My commandments.  (John 14:15 NKJV; see also Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10; John 14:21; John 15:10; and I John 5:3.)

But wait!  The rich young man who asked Yeshua how to inherit eternal life kept the commandments, and Yeshua told him it wasn’t enough!  How can it be enough for us?

In truth it can’t, if we are keeping His commandments for the wrong reasons.  If we are trying to win His favor and work our way into the Kingdom of Heaven, no amount of rule-keeping will do it.  Consider this.  What would happen if a young person who wants to be a soldier sets out to do all the things a soldier is supposed to do?  Let’s say he reads all the training manuals and practices marksmanship, first aid, leadership skills, physical fitness, and everything else he can think of to make himself acceptable to the Army.  He may even do things better than many soldiers do them.  But what if he never enlisted in the Army?  What if he was just doing it on his own, hoping the Army would notice him and take him in?  If that were the case, he would have been doing things on his own terms, not as the Army required.  Since he had signed no papers and taken no oath of service, he was not even committed at the most basic level to the Army.  Of course, that would be very foolish; his hard work would count for nothing at all.

That is how it is in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Our hard work means nothing unless we first “enlist” by putting our faith in Yeshua and signing up to obey His commands.  Only then will our heart be in it, because only then will He be able to change our hearts so that we can know what real love is and follow Him with the right motive.

Please click here to continue to Fox Byte #22.

Please click here to return to Fox Byte #20.

Please click here to return to the beginning of this series.

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

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