Once we live together in communities, we have to have rules to live by so we can all get on. Sometimes the rules are developed by all, refined and then agreed by all and finally implemented. Sometimes rules are imposed on us and we have little input on what they are and how they are implemented. In our Christian community, the rules are known as the Ten Commandments and most current Western-type societies have these as their basis of law. Since the early simplicity of just ten, current law in most countries, including our own of Australia, have exploded in number.

Jesus was obviously a believer in simplicity – He summarised all the commandments in just two simple statements.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If you do so, then you will do things with that in mind – so you would try to act as God would. Note I use the word “try” because as much as all of us would like to live to those ideals, too often we fall short (I know I do, so I apologise to those who are able to act to their ideals).

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you do, then treatment of others is guided by how you would treat yourself. Generally, you wouldn’t hurt yourself, so you wouldn’t hurt others – that’s physically, mentally, emotionally or any other way.

Now those commandments, or rules, are straightforward. Theoretically, we could all implement them easily and life would be so easy. But if we hurt due to another’s actions or words, we tend to inflict pain if we act without thinking. If we get upset with what someone has done to us, we tend to upset others if we act without thinking. How do we follow these commandments and not allow our instinctive reactions to govern what we do?

We stop before we do something and think – and pray. How many have gritted their teeth and muttered silently or vocally, “God give me strength!” when faced with a person or a situation? I know I have. Sometimes the answer to that prayer is to just say or do nothing – immensely difficult in many situations. Sometimes the answer is to do something against your instinct. Perhaps the most unexpected is to return hate with love – to turn the other cheek when faced with violence. “Smile – it confuses people” summarises the concept that contentment in the face of adversity is not usual, but it can be done. Let God be with you in your daily life and help you follow those great commandments – and take the time to pray when you need help.