Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Best Advice from the Best Advisor

 

Our group-writing topic for this month is advice, and I thought it only right to begin with the very most important advice that I or anyone else could give. It was, of course, given by Jesus:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Those two commandments are completely the key to living a fulfilled and fulfilling life. The interesting and challenging part is that much of fulfilling the first – loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength- is wrapped up in fulfilling the second, as explicated in the Tanakh, the Sermon on the Mount, in the various Pauline, Petrine, Jacobine and Johannine epistles.

“He who loves me is he who keeps My commandments,” Jesus said, and I do love him, so I strive and struggle to keep those commandments. Afflicted as I am with tendencies toward the full complement of human vices, this means often that I come back in contrition and ask for the grace to live beyond the influence of lust, rage, greed, and self-centered thinking. It is easier in some areas than in others.

Loving my enemies has consistently been the hardest one. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus did not say “pretend they are not your enemies” or “the harm they intend you or inflict on you does not matter.” He only commands us to love them, which means seeking their moral good and their salvation. Not pretending the evil they do is good.

The evils we do aren’t good either, of course, but we are not meant to live in condemnation under their shadow forever, either. My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.

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  1. Saint Augustine Member

    Amen.

    • #1
    • February 7, 2020, at 5:14 AM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Arahant Member

    Hartmann von Aue: Loving my enemies, that’s consistently been the hardest one.

    Often it is a shift of thought that can make things easier. We have no enemies, only brothers and sisters in God. They may appear to be against us for a time, but God is working in and through them as He is within us. Love and pray for your brothers and sisters. It is far easier than loving and praying for an “enemy.”

    • #2
    • February 7, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. The Dowager Jojo Inactive

    Thanks, I needed that.

    • #3
    • February 7, 2020, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. Barfly Member

    Fear is present in all life, it’s nothing more than the need to be away from its object. Love is its opposite, the desire to be with its object. The failure of the East is to seek a balance between fear and love; the gift of Christ in his most brilliant Sermon is to lead us to affirmatively choose love. Thank you for reminding me, because the ones who’ve chosen to embrace the fear will always be more numerous and outwardly powerful.

    • #4
    • February 7, 2020, at 9:23 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the February 2020 Group Writing Theme: “Advice.” Stop by soon, our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #5
    • February 7, 2020, at 11:21 AM PST
    • Like
  6. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    I was pondering this recently. Thank you for sharing a needful reminder! 

    • #6
    • February 7, 2020, at 3:40 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Henry Castaigne Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Arahant

    Hartmann von Aue: Loving my enemies, that’s consistently been the hardest one.

    Often it is a shift of thought that can make things easier. We have no enemies, only brothers and sisters in God. They may appear to be against us for a time, but God is working in and through them as He is within us. Love and pray for your brothers and sisters. It is far easier than loving and praying for an “enemy.”

    Try to understand things from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. We have rivals for mates. We have competitors for status and power. We have different groups of vicious hominids cooperating within the group to destroy those outside of the group. The ‘all men are brothers thing’ makes sense within the group but our history (and pre-history) the pattern of competing tribes shows up more. 

    If we are made to be brothers to one another why is our DNA designed to kill and or subdue outsiders for our personal benefit and the benefit of the group we belong to?

    • #7
    • February 8, 2020, at 8:25 PM PST
    • Like
  8. Saint Augustine Member

    Try to understand things from the biblical perspective. There’s something called sin.

    If there’s something not exactly sin, it’s the effects of sin. Sin wrecked creation, right down to thorns and thistles and no doubt our own DNA.

    Maybe it’s all incompatible with evolutionary psychology. Maybe it’s compatible. But it is the biblical perspective.

    • #8
    • February 8, 2020, at 8:33 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Henry Castaigne Member

    Hartmann von Aue: My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.

    This is why I so often find advice useless. You are talking to people who already know how to ask for G-d’s wisdom and mercy. Presuming that Christianity is correct, your advice can’t help those who don’t already believe. 

    • #9
    • February 8, 2020, at 8:50 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Saint Augustine Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue: My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.

    This is why I so often find advice useless. You are talking to people who already know how to ask for G-d’s wisdom and mercy. Presuming that Christianity is correct, your advice can’t help those who don’t already believe.

    Sometimes a choir still needs preaching to.

    • #10
    • February 8, 2020, at 9:07 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Henry Castaigne Member

    Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that. As Dr. Johnson said, ‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’ The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; (Mere Christianity, chap. 3)

    • #11
    • February 8, 2020, at 10:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If we are made to be brothers to one another why is our DNA designed to kill and or subdue outsiders for our personal benefit and the benefit of the group we belong to?

    Because God is higher than our animal natures. You can be Esau, or you can step up to being Jacob, who becomes Israel.

    • #12
    • February 8, 2020, at 10:40 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that. As Dr. Johnson said, ‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’ The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; (Mere Christianity, chap. 3)

    Yeah, this is the idea that the law is written on the soul/heart as Paul puts in it Romans 1. Lewis’s idea of the Tao is just an outworking of it. 

    • #13
    • February 8, 2020, at 11:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes