Daily Readings: Genesis 31-32, Psalm 13, Matthew 12
“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’
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? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’
Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” –Matthew 12:9-13
I love this story. There are so many times in life, as marketplace missionaries, where we are confronted with this same issue that Jesus had to deal with today. What is more important, the letter of the law or the spirit of the law? There are some situations where this is an extremely difficult thing to discern. The answer is not clear. However, in every case we would all benefit from taking the approach that Jesus took. We simply need to give ourselves a hypothetical situation and ask the question:
“How much more valuable is a person than whatever nuanced semantics we are debating at that time?”
If we take ourselves out of the equation, remove our own biases and agenda, avoid thinking about how this decision impacts ourselves, and focus on loving others by asking, “How can I do right by them?” the answers become incredibly clear a large percentage of the time.
“How much more valuable is a person?”
Believe it or not, people who do not yet know Christ are not impressed with our legalism. They are not wowed with our ability to prove to them that we are on the correct side of a debate. They are not won over and overcome by a sudden desire to learn more about the love of Jesus because of our ability to clearly show why not helping others is “the right thing to do” based on a strict interpretation of the constitution, city ordinance, or single verse in the Bible.
They are won over by the love Jesus showed. They are won over when we ask the question, “How much more valuable is a person?”
Time and time again, throughout his preaching, Jesus showed us that he is a “spirit of the law” guy. This applied to the actual laws of the day when he was around, as well as to the motives in our hearts.
He wants us to show radical love in helping others. He wants us always asking, “How much more valuable is a person?”
Thought to ponder
When have I fallen into legalism or into debates over semantics instead of simply asking, “How can I best serve others? How can I demonstrate Christ’s love for them in this situation? How would Jesus approach this one?”