Recently a young man was found fleeing his car on a roadside near our city. He had driven it over 110 miles per hour “to see what would happen,” he told TV reporters. Answer: the engine blew and caught fire. Only charred metal remained.

Like this young person we are free to do as we please. Some choices are wise, loving, and responsible, while others are foolish, evil and just plain foolish. What guides us to choose well?

The third-century pastor St. Augustine had an answer: loving God prompts us to live well. Specifically, he wrote: “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.”

Some people quote just the first part of this well-known phrase—love God and do whatever you please. Left unexplained, that teaching seems wide open for chaos. It is the second part that explains that when our soul is trained in love for God, we will do nothing to offend Jesus the beloved Son.

What types of things do not offend? Answer: Loving things. Like loving our neighbor and even our enemies. Like acting justly and showing mercy with everyone. Like forgiving others seventy times seven. Like not holding a grudge toward anyone.

Loving others brings freedom because we ourselves are made free by Jesus’ love. However, the cynic might push back and say, “But these are rules, and rules constrain me!”

Ask yourself honestly, then. What would happen if… You hated your neighbor and especially your enemy? You were unfair with people around you and never showed mercy? You held that grudge and did not forgive?

After all that, how would you feel? Free? Would you know the bright freedoms of new days? It is more likely that you would experience the dread of entangled relationships where you no longer trust others or relax in peace.

The young driver was free to do as he pleased. And now he must pay a fine and finance a new vehicle. We can do without that kind of freedom.

Dear God, How wonderful and merciful are your ways that youwould make “doing good” freeing for us. May we follow your lead in sacrificial care for our neighbour, fairness in our dealings, and forgiving offenders again and again. May we be trained in your love so that our heart, soul, mind and strength vibrate with your Spirit. May we relish going about doing good as Jesus did.

Throughout the Day: Do a kind thing for someone in your life today that you normally would not do. See how it makes you feel. Freer or constrained? Empowered or weak? Joyful or drained?

Tags: Daily Devotional Mark 12