“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:28–29, NIV84)
It’s not very often that Jesus told someone that they were correct. But He did to this young man. The man came to Jesus wanting to know what he needed to do to enter eternal life. Jesus answered him with a question, “What is written in the law, how do you read it?” The man properly answered, “to love God with all your heart and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” To this answer Jesus replied, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” WOW! He didn’t quote the 600+ commandments of the Pharisees. The man rightfully understood the Word of God and the spirit behind the law. He understood its true meaning. But something was gnawing at the young man. Seeking to justify himself, he was seeking a clarification. He asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He was looking for some qualifications. He wanted there to be some small print under that command. Surely God doesn’t expect me to love everyone. Hence, Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan. But there is something very important for us to take from this section of scripture.
The distance between knowing something to be true and living according to that truth MUST be traveled. It’s not enough to know something to be true. The Bible tells us that the demons know God but shudder. True knowledge and understanding of truth must show itself in how we live. What about you and me? I am afraid that we are much like this young man who can postulate and even declare the truths of God’s Word, but can’t/don’t live according to them. Now in one sense it is impossible to live a perfect life. That is why Jesus came to live, die, and rise again to redeem and save us. But once saved, are we honestly working to live the transformed life God would have us live? It’s not enough to learn theology. One must live a life consistent with that theology, or they are simply hypocrites. You and I must work constantly to allow the truth of God’s Word to transform our lives so that the distance between knowing and doing is appropriately bridged.
I pray that we might offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice, that we allow the Spirit of God to transform our minds and our lives so that there is a consistency between what we believe and live. (Rom. 12:1-2)