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Often when I contemplate what my duty is to my fellow man, I couch it in the crass and frequently cold terms of political efficacies. But lately, thinking of the world around me in those terms seems insufficient at best, and harmful at worst. The recent spectacle of cities decimated by hurricanes and the least of these marooned by those in power further shows that there is a missing piece of the social puzzle that must be answered using a different framework. While I often balk at the thought of mixing politics and religion, it follows that when the political issue at hand addresses how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is entirely appropriate. And fortunately, how we treat humankind was oft the topic of choice for the Savior during his time on earth.

In the Gospel of Luke, we are given in no uncertain terms the mistake of concerning oneself with living within the letter of law and not within the spirit of Christ. Luke chapter 11, verses 39-42 states:

"You Pharisees [the societal leaders of that time] clean the outsides of cups and dishes, but on the inside you are greedy and evil. You fools! Didn’t God make both the outside and the inside? If you would only give what you have to the poor, everything you do would please God. You Pharisees are in for trouble! You give a tenth of the spices from your gardens, such as mint and rue. But you cheat people and you don’t love God. You should be fair and kind to others and still give a tenth to God.

Relief to Others

God is not simply satisfied with our reluctance to break the speed limit and our willingness to pay taxes and tithe. What is expected of us is a way of life that brings not comfort to ourselves, but relief to others. God is the giver of all blessings, and if we are to serve him we are bound to bring blessings upon others. Christ rebuked the Pharisees not for their insistence on obeying the law, but rather their insistence on obeying the law only. The life we are called to lead is a life of sacrifice, and we are asked to do so by he who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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By Garrett Gladden. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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