We’ve all been there before. We all remember in school how our teacher would help us remember that we already knew the answer to a question. With the wise guidance of our teacher, we all know how to search our minds and our hearts to find the right answer for a variety of questions. But no question is as important as, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10.25)
The Gospel tells us a story of a certain lawyer who wanted to test Jesus by asking a question for which he already knew the answer. Jesus responded to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10.26) After the lawyer precisely quoted from the Law, Jesus said, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Yet, the lawyer wasn’t satisfied with his attempt to challenge Christ as he pressed on “wanting to justify himself.” (Luke 10.28)
We all know how God wants us to live. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10.27) But are we satisfied, or do we want to press Jesus further? It is obvious the lawyer didn’t really desire to have eternal life. Why else would he press further once the Lord approved of his answer? The Gospel says, “wanting to justify himself,” because his heart was not pure.
It wasn’t enough for the lawyer to know the answer; he needed to justify his own actions. The same is true for us. We already know how God wants us to live. The real question is, “Are we living how He desires or are we seeking to justify our own actions that fall short of God’s will in our lives?” God knows the condition of our heart, and when He says, “Go and do likewise,” He means it.
I invite you this week, as we begin our Christmas Fast, to commit to doing what you already know you need to do. We are surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of people who need our help. This year is our opportunity to be the ‘Good Samaritan’ for our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends, rather than to spend the next six weeks justifying ourselves.