A Spiritual Checklist

I was thinking about all the things Jesus told his followers to do. Me? I don’t do many of those things. Am I ok? Are you? Go through this checklist to the key at the bottom and see for yourself.

I’ll start the checkpoints with the less stressful and move up to the harder sayings (at least for me). In the end, it will feel like a trick checklist. But that’s because it is. By design it echos the paradoxical nature of grace: in our weakness God’s strength is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:9).

The Checklist

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  1. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5-6)
  2. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind . . . .” (Luke 10:27)
  3. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
  4. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:5-6)
  5. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
  6. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)
  7. “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:40-42)
  8. “Now if your right eye is causing you to sin, tear it out and throw it away from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

How Do You Check Out?

Careful, here! If what follows were always accepted by all Christians, we may never have had the Reformation, including the bloody history that led up to and away from it. So you might find yourself disagreeing with what I offer. That’s ok. This checklist is to make us think, not to define us.

Click here for the evaluation key

The key for #1-8 is that most of us will have had to put down “Often, even Almost Often” or “Never or Almost Never” for several if not all of them.

If you have “Always” on most or all of them, I want to interview you!

Rarely do I give away what I am wearing and rarely do I lend to strangers (#7)—we know from the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus meant strangers. Frankly, I’ve never plucked out an eye literally and rarely figuratively (#8).

All of these pronouncements from Jesus are quite important, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are on his checklist (nor that he has one). Nor nor does it mean that they were spoken with the expectation that his listeners would painfully eek them out with all the self-righteousness they could muster. We saw what happened when Peter tried that.

Watchman Nee—among others—assures us that the reason Jesus could raise such a high bar was because he believed so fully in his ability to live his life through us by our faith.

Here are the final two checkpoints:

  1. “Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'” (John 6:28-29)
  2. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life . . . .” (John 3:36)

When we get to #9 and #10, faith kicks in. Believe that Jesus already offered his life to you so he could live through you, and you are on the road. You can admit to him that you need help with everything. It’s his ability and not yours that makes the good news good. My wish is that we would all be able to put “Often, even Oftener than Not” for #9 and #10.

If the checklist has any value, it is to remind us to rely on Jesus, to learn to be quiet and trusting, to give thanks in all things, to make our requests known to our Father, to cast all our cares on him, knowing that he cares for us.



Publishing Info
This post was first published on: June 3, 2024. If this article is significantly updated, the publication date beneath the title may change, just as it might change in order to bring current posts to the top (or bottom) of the directory.

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