by Charles R. Swindoll
Lists are everywhere. The sports page is full of them. Elsewhere we find lists of Academy Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and beauty contest winners. The publishing world has its best-seller list, the music world its gold and platinum album lists, the financial world its Fortune 500 list. Even the religious world has its list of super churches, largest Sunday schools, biggest worship centers, or those giving most to missions.
Usually after looking over such lists, I wonder, Who really cares? It is doubtful that God has ever been impressed with the size of anything. His Book invariably ranks quality above quantity. As a matter of fact, He seems to delight in reminding us that greater glory to Him takes place when victory occurs in spite of the odds. As in David vs. Goliath. Or the Hebrews vs. the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Or Gideon's few. Or Jesus' small band of disciples.
But about the time I'm ready to suggest that we ignore all lists, I come across a list in the Scriptures! Dozens of them, in fact!
For example, God not only lists the Ten Commandments that depict His holy character, He lists the things He hates to find among His creatures. Remember them? Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, one who spreads strife among brothers (Prov. 6:16-19).
The apostle Paul helps us out by listing "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23). Elsewhere, Paul lists the gifts of the Spirit in several of his letters (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11), Peter lists the qualities of a maturing Christian (2 Pet. 1:5-8), and John lists the first-century churches that represented examples worth noting (Rev. 2:1-3, 22). There are lists of qualifications for being an elder and also for being a deacon.
Lists, lists, and more lists! And since they are authored by the living Lord, we'd be wise to read and heed each one.
Even though it finds its origin in one whose life was not centered on Christ our Lord, Mahatma Gandhi's own list of "seven deadly sins" in the form of contrasts deserves our attention: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.
Now, there's a list to heed and not carry out!
The prophet Micah names the absolute basics "required" by the Lord.
The next time you're feeling that living for God is getting too complicated, blow the dust off Micah's list: to do justice,
to love kindness, to walk humbly with God.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.