These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath. – Zechariah 8:16-17 (NRSV)
When it comes to pithy descriptions of the life-of-faith essentials, we generally turn to the prophet Micah—do justice, love mercy, walk humbly—and that radical lover Jesus of Nazareth: love God with all you’ve got; love your neighbor as yourself; and, by the way, that includes your enemies.
These precepts are clear, expansive, even beautiful. They steer us away from reliance on grandiose and sometimes hollow religious rituals, and direct us toward what matters most to God: how we treat other people. To put it another way: How we treat other people is central to how we love God.
And still I appreciate Zechariah’s specificity. Here’s how The Message renders Zechariah’s message from the Holy One:
Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest.
Is that so hard?
It’s a trick question, of course. If keeping our lives honest and free from evil were straightforward tasks, we’d surely be much better at them. But we are a wounded, wanting, and willful people.
And still. For those of us hoping to help build the kin-dom, it helps to have someplace to start.
Thank you for clear instructions. When I make things complicated, bring me back to simple, honest, truthful, and reconciling.