Monday, June 17, 2013

A Thought for Monday 6/17/13

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn Your commandments.  Those who fear You will be glad when they see me because I have hoped in Your word.  I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.  Let Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your world to your servant.”  Psalm 119:73-76

Each time I read Psalm 119, I find myself in tension between the psalmist’s obvious joy in the Law, which he refers to as the Word of the Lord, and St. Paul’s seeming rejection of that same Law.  Even in St. Paul’s time it must be remembered that the psalms were very much a part of the God-breathed Scriptures to which Paul refers in his first letter to Timothy, including Psalm 119.  It would be hard to consider the psalmist as “imprisoned” (Galatians 3:23) by the very Law he refers to as his “delight” (Psalm 119:77).

I think, though, that what St. Paul often refers to are the ‘demands’ of those legal requirements the Jewish elders taught as the means of justification rather than obedience as the spiritual fruits by which true faith is expressed; obedience to the Word of the Lord – including the Law.  It may sound like splitting hairs, but it seems to come down to the difference between obeying a demanding culture rather than seeing the Word as our means to true freedom in the Lord for the sake of “understanding, that I may learn” the Law.  That is, seeking Divine wisdom so that the Law actually makes spiritual sense rather than being reduced only to a legal code.

Make no mistake; understanding and obedience to the Law is the only way the people of the Lord can be distinguished from the rest of the world – and we are called to be “set apart” - even as they laugh at us and make fun.  This does not mean we can reject the Law until we can be satisfied that we fully understand or pick the ones that suit us and reject the rest.  It means incorporating the Law into our lives so that the Word of the Lord can be implemented in our hearts.  Jesus did not disavow the Law; He perfected it.

Let us live into the Word of the Lord in its fullness so that we may indeed be justified by faith, for faith is not merely intellectual acknowledgement; faith is trust in something greater, something bigger than ourselves, something “yet unseen”.



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