Earlier this year we looked at the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Unlike us, Jesus did not need to be baptised (because he was without sin) and John was reluctant to baptise him. But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires. So John agreed to baptize him” (Matthew 3:15). That raises the question in my mind, “What does God require?”
Are the things God requires unreasonable and impossible? No, in fact, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” (Matthew 5:6) So instead of being an unfair burden, doing what God requires in the way to live a full and satisfying life.
So, what does the Bible tell us God wants from us? Fortunately, there are a number of verses in the Bible that clearly answer that question. One of the most basic answers is found in Deuteronomy 10:12, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.” Very simply, God wants us to believe in him, worship him, love him and serve him.
God also wants us to treat other people as he has treated us. Micah 6:8, “O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Mercy and humility are two qualities that he wants to see developed in us.
In The Message, Eugene Peterson presents an interesting thought. “Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved” (Matthew 24:13). I have often thought that perseverance is perhaps one of the most under-rated requirements of living the Christian life.
Doing what God requires can produce many results in our life but there is one very important thing it cannot do. It cannot save us from sin. “For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned” (Romans 3:20). Although confession, repentance and faith are all required for God to save us, salvation only comes through the grace and mercy of God. “By the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free” (Romans 3:24).
Here is a question for all of us to think about through the coming weeks, “Is it our greatest desire to do what God requires?” If it is, God promises to satisfy us fully.