Follow the Spirit of the Law

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23, ESV)

Pharisees were Jesus’ opponents who followed the exact wordings of the Hebrew Bible, but lacked compassion for the suffering people. Pharisees were quick to judge, but they elevated themselves above others, and they denied God’s blessing to those they condemn.

Jesus recommended the Pharisees to consider justice, mercy and faithfulness. That could be a very good recommendation for us as well. Who among us have not judged in quickness, or elevated us above the people who we condemned?

To be more just is not to be a better judge, but rather to not judge. Jesus said “Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.” Each of us may sin, but we also wish to turn away from our mistakes. It would be a blessing to meet someone who can give a helping hand when we are feeling down from our mistakes. Jesus would be able to reach out to us at that moment.

To have more mercy means to have more compassion, to be more life giving and nourishing to those who are lacking or hurting. Jesus was not just willing to have fellowship with a five times divorced woman, but he was willing to give her living water that brings eternal life.

To be faithful to God is not to follow the letters of the Law in the Bible, but to follow the spirit of the Law, which is best summed up as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

If we do all of these, God will give us overflowing blessings more than we can hold. And that is just one of the Good News!


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