Thursday, March 16, 2023

Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Several years ago I joined a group on a 10-day backpacking trip across the Sierra Nevada range. Everything we needed—food, clothes, cooking equipment, tent—had to fit in our backpack. Since the recommended load for a backpack is one third your body weight, I needed to keep mine below 60 pounds.

I had been on several weekend hikes before, but packing for 10 days is a far cry from packing for two days. I had to keep reminding myself to simplify. No fancy meals—only freeze-dried entrées that mix with boiled water. Not two coats to change into—just one. Not three pairs of pants—just the one pair to wear. Not six sets of underwear—just two. No extra shoes or towels. No books for evening reading. Every item had to pass the test: “Do I really need this item?” A friend of mine even cut off the handle of his toothbrush to eliminate excess weight. What a difference it all made while hiking on the trail. Every pound we left behind was a blessed relief those 10 days.

At times in my life I thought salvation was too complicated—at least the way some make it appear. It seemed as if reaching heaven depended on what I ate, how I dressed, where I went, how I interpreted Bible prophecy, how I chose to worship, and on and on. The simple formula of John 3:16 had become a 100-pound backpack.

But Jesus set the record straight. In a stern rebuke, He declared: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matt. 23:13, 14, NIV).

Simplify! Simplify! Salvation is not so complicated. The prophet Micah reduced it to three simple elements: “To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NKJV). Ah! Now that’s a load off my shoulders.

How could you simplify your life so the load you are carrying doesn’t weigh you down?

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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