THE WORD: The calling to do good
Published 8:56 am Thursday, March 21, 2019
I was reflecting on the idea of “the principle” behind something verses “letter of the law.” I recall sitting in traffic court several years ago where I heard the judge address person after person with speeding tickets with “you have a good record with positive points, if you will complete a one day drivers ed (education) course, I will reduce the ticket to faulty equipment upon your completion.”
I heard this said over and over to people who had a good driving record, were “cooperative” with the officer and were cited for speeding 5-10 miles over the limit. But it wasn’t faulty equipment!
The idea I would imagine is that you have a good driver with no previous violations who just messed up on this one occasion so you cut them some slack. The idea is to still “teach them a lesson,” but not cause detriment to their record. The idea behind the speed limit is to enforce caution, protect drivers and keep the roads safe. Not to hurt the drivers, increase insurance premiums, and make money for the system.
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This leads me to the bible. There are many commands given throughout the bible that turned into “laws” How often are these commands and these “laws” being used for the purpose of punishing people, calling people down, grounds for discrimination or prejudice; taking the letter of the law and beating others with it instead of taking the spirit of the commands and helping people to understand them, apply them, live and learn from them? The Pharisees were great at spouting out the laws and Jesus was great at reminding them of the spirit of the commandments for living.
Just one example: Matthew 12:10-12“Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ 11 He said to them, ’If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’” There is something greater than “following the letter of the law.”
It’s the calling to do good, to love others, to do what is needed to reach people, minister to people and share God’s love with people. There are many teachings in the bible that we can use to hurt others or to help others. We can hold them like whips in our hands or we can temper them with the greatest command(s) given: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt. 22:36-40
Maybe how we use, apply and share everything else in the bible will fall into place if we can adhere to those first two great commandments.
JOHN MOXLEY can be reached at Jmoxley1@juno.com.