When my husband, Greg, was a little boy, his father used to give him a kiss and say, “That’s for nothing. Now do something.”
I used to think that was kind of pointless. Why kiss (reward) someone, and then tell him to do something, ostensibly something worthy of a kiss?
I supposed it was to show Greg that his father’s love was unconditional—he loved Greg because he existed, not because Greg earned his love.
The second part didn’t have to be a qualifier; it could have meant that he had every confidence Greg was capable of doing great things.
It wasn’t until recent years that I had a deeper insight into that simple ritual. It’s a lot like what our Father in heaven does with us. He loves us and invites us into His kingdom, not because of what we’ve done to deserve it (nothing), but because of His righteous desire to bless us and transform us into the image of His Son. And what does He ask from us in return? To love Him completely, and to love each other with great care (Matthew 22:37-39). This love is expressed in our actions (do something), showing mercy, working for justice, and walking with God daily (Micah 6:8).
My Bible study group is studying Martin Luther’s treatise on The Freedom of the Christian. I’ve been struggling with it. How am I free from sin? What does it mean to no longer be under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14)?
We’re back to Matthew 22 again, verses 36-40. When you love God completely and your neighbor with great care, you are fulfilling the law; it has no power to condemn you. My sin is forgiven; I no longer concentrate on the thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots. I am free to live according to a new operating system: love.