Tag Archives: Law

It’s Not My Law

I’m sure you’re familiar with the scenes.

  • Someone smokes where it is forbidden
  • While driving there is always that driver that just has to speed past everyone else
  • The driver treats the stop sign as a yield sign
  • A person cuts a few corners on their taxes
  • A witness commits perjury
  • A group of friends set off fireworks after posted hours
  • Parents let their underage teen host a party where alcohol is consumed

This one may not be familiar but it fits. From the Detroit News: “Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday she would not enforce a state abortion ban if federal protections are overturned…” (1)

While there are many more examples these, hopefully, raise the question of the day. Why do people feel it’s okay for them to break the law? Why do they feel they can say and act as if “It’s not my law?”

I believe the answer is quite simply “Pride.” To knowingly and willingly break the law is to say, in essence, “I’m special. This law doesn’t apply to me.” “I think it’s a stupid law – I know better so I can ignore it.” Pride puts us in a position of feeling superior, better than and different from others. Pride allows us to make laws and set boundaries as we see fit. After all, it’s not my law.

But make no mistake about it; we’ve all been similarly prideful and willingly broken laws at some point in time. And I believe it stems from our rebellious, sinful nature. We saw it with Adam and Eve when, because their pride placed them above God and rejected His law, they ate the forbidden fruit. The reality is every time we sin we are saying to God “It’s not my law.” The testimony of Scripture is clear.

First, there is law. God has firmly established His law within the world He created and “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure… Your statutes, Lord, stand firm…”  (Psalm 93:1&5) “The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved…” (Psalm 96:10) “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.” (Psalm 111:7-8) The truth is it’s not now and never is ‘my law.’ It’s God’s law.

Second, we all break God’s laws. (2) “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:9-12 & 23)

Third, there are consequences for breaking the law. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) A basic theme of the book of Judges is that when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, there is chaos in the land.

Fourth, the power to obey comes from loving Jesus. He proclaimed, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:15-17)

Fifth, there is great reward in loving Jesus. Jesus said “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)

Why this brief overview and summary of Scripture? Because the bottom line is that obeying God’s laws compels and enables us to better obey human laws and to live with joy. The better we understand it the better off we and our world will be; because, after all, “The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved…”

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No Smoking Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

(1)https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/04/16/nessel-id-never-enforce-michigan-abortion-ban/3487903002/

Gavel – Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

 

Sailing Through Life – Part 5 When You’re Getting Nowhere Fast

While sailing at sea my wife and I tried to get in a walk each day. As we did so I was struck by how the direction and speed with which we walked created a clear picture of another life lesson. If we walked in the same direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were making more and faster progress than we really were. On the other hand, when we got to the other side and walked opposite the direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were losing ground with each step. It seemed that for every step forward we went backwards 2 or 3. On this side of the ship all I could think of was the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” The image that came to mind was trying to walk up a down escalator. (1)

Have you ever felt that way? That you’re getting nowhere fast – that for every step forward you are taking 2 backward? That instead of gaining ground you’re losing ground? That the faster you go the further you get behind? The harder you try the wearier you become. Yet, you hesitate to stop or slow down for fear you’ll not complete your task on time, if at all. And the strength fades as the fatigue sets in. What to do?

Not surprisingly, the Bible has an answer. The wise preacher declared, “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is not our speed through life that counts. It’s our efficiency and strength – managing our body and soul well. When the losing ground feelings arise it’s time to slow down. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:8). God is saying, “Slow down. Stop. Let go. I’m here to help.”

Certainly God knows whereof He speaks! Recall what happened after 6 days of creating the world: “… on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) What’s good for God is good and necessary for us. So God addressed the need for and importance of rest when He laid down His 10 commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11) God repeated the command often – as in Exodus 31:15 (Good News Translation): “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me.” (2)

It only stands to reason, then, that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath Day but also disciplined Himself to rest. Often he withdrew from the crowds and disciples to a mountain in order to rest and pray. He also wanted His disciples to develop the habit of resting. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31) Jesus also invited us to develop this ‘rest discipline’. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

So when you’re going up that down escalator remember: Slow Down! Stop! Let Go! Get in the habit of not only setting aside the Sabbath day weekly, but beyond that, set aside some portion of each day.

Try taking time to pray this prayer:

“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations of slowing down; to look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one; to pet a stray dog; to watch a spider build a web; to smile at a child; or to read a good book. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Then when you run you’ll run faster, when you step ahead your steps will be farther apart and your strength will be greater. And it will be amazing where you’ll go and what you’ll get done in the strength of Jesus.

Keep in mind what lies ahead: I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.” (Revelation 14:13)

(1) Creator: Einar Kling-Odencrants — Copyright:x-default .

Restriction of Freedom

freedomcloudOne of the consequences of our ‘me first’, ‘I demand my rights’ culture is a misunderstanding of freedom. Freedom is far too often taken to mean a person is free to do whatever, whenever, wherever. Freedom is viewed as having no restrictions.

Such views have even seeped into the church. Consider Jesus’ words from John 8:31-32. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” This is surely one of the most abused texts in the Bible. I cannot recall all the times I’ve heard someone say or imply, based on these words, that there are no rules in the Christian life – that since Jesus’ grace covers everything, everything is okay. But this indicates a lack of regard for both the condition attached (remaining in Jesus’ teachings) and the sort of freedom in view, namely, freedom from sin (v. 34). The restriction of freedom is: “If you hold to my teaching…the truth will set you free.”

Jesus promises that if we remain in his teaching, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. In Judaism it was the study of the law that set one free (Ps 119:45), so Jesus is claiming for his teaching that which is recognized as true of God’s own teaching. To know Jesus is to be liberated from all error and evil, for it is to know God himself, who is truth and purity and life. In Jesus’ teaching and in the teaching of Judaism obedience to God is true freedom. That makes truth something quite different from today’s mindset; for it takes God, rather than our own personal feelings and ambitions, as the one good. The freedom in view is not a freedom to do whatever we wish according to the dictates of our own fallen selves, but a freedom from our fallen selves and the power and guidance to act in accordance with God himself, the source of all goodness and life.

That’s precisely why God gives us His laws. 10commmandmentsThese ‘restrictions’ are not meant to hurt us but to help us, not meant to deprive us but to protect us. In 1982 Greg Hibbard wrote a letter to the editor in the Muskegon Chronicle which read, “Dear Editor, I would like to tell your readers how mad I was when I was forced to go out and pay $45 for an infant seat, and to top it off we couldn’t fit everybody in my pickup truck with that big bulky thing. On April 2, my wife was forced to go off highway M-120 into a ditch to avoid a collision – that’s 55 MPH to a dead stop. The back of the child car seat was facing the windshield (as I was told the law required for four-month old infants). That seat broke off the ash tray, cracked the dashboard and chipped the windshield. Our baby didn’t have a scratch on her. I would like to thank God and whoever else is responsible for passing that stupid law.” I have a hunch Jesus smiled as he read the letter! Greg now understood that freedom has restrictions. So remember the formula: H + JT + T = F. (Holding to Jesus’ teaching leads to truth which leads to freedom.) Work on your obedience; enjoy your divine restrictions – and be truly free.

Freedom Cloud picture from: aliveagainpositiveliving.com

Law tablets picture from: myjewishlarning.com