Grace and the Law

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.                                                                      
Matthew 5:17–20, NRSV

It’s so easy to become legalistic with the “dos” and “don’ts” of life. And for me, when I look God’s Law, I know without a shadow of a doubt I fall short–I “miss the mark.” I know I am not “worthy.” Sadly, I probably would not measure up to one of the Pharisees even if he was having a bad day.

The good news to me is I am admonished to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the whole book to get the whole picture. Because there is more–more about love, grace, forgiveness and what we can or cannot do to redeem ourselves.

In Psalm 49:6–7, we hear the words of the psalmist, “ We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; For the ransom of our life is so great , that we should never have enough to pay it. Okay, I get that! And Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8–9, “ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not because of works, lest any man should boast.” I like that! And let’s not forget the scripture that almost everyone knows by heart: “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son , that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16. I thank God for that one.
And so it is I believe God holds up the law before me to show me the best way to live my life in a way that is not only pleasing to Him, but also the way that causes me the least amount of headache, heartache and pain. I need the law in my life–it shows me how to press ahead and what God’s work in my life will look like–but I also need God’s grace and love to “ransom” me when I do fall short of His will for me as His beloved child.

I thank God for loving me enough to show me I need both His law and His grace, both ministered to me through His love in Christ Jesus my Lord and yours. Amen.

The Rev. Robert E. Wareing
Pastoral Care Associate