When we think about the Law in the Bible, many of us adults think about a long, boring, drawn-out explanation to a bunch of kids who will think of a new way to disobey every five minutes… Oh wait, sounds like trying to give craft project instructions or maybe just laying down ground rules for your own children before a long trip.
The Law of Moses is anything but boring, in fact… it’s terrifying! And not just due to the fact that reading legal documents is generally considered a ponderous, tedious task that no one wants to do. Have you ever stared into a mirror? Have you ever had the feeling that maybe you should get a haircut, or maybe pick that spinach you had for lunch out of your teeth? Well, the Law is kind of like that… only much more serious than personal grooming!
The Law points out our mistakes and convicts us of sin: selfishness, greed, covetousness, fighting, anger, and then gives us no way to really deal with it! The Law does not bring forgiveness or love or mercy—only judgment, pain and death. So consider the Israelites reactions to hearing the 10 Commandments in God’s voice of pealing thunder: “[…] the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off [backed away from the mountain] and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’” (Ex. 20:18-19) The Israelites were scared silly! They saw God’s presence, heard the Law and realized in a few seconds that this Law was going to be a huge life change!
I am so glad we have Grace! It gives me the ability to receive forgiveness for my sin and to forgive others in turn! With the grace I have received, how can I not forgive others!? As Paul says, though, we must be careful that we do not abuse our gift of Grace… “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1) Of course not, Paul goes on to say. The Law reminds us what God’s standard is: perfection. No, we are not perfect, but some day we will be with God in heaven and we will be there! But down here, we must strive to become more like Jesus, who fulfilled the Law by keeping it in its entirety! The only one who ever pulled off that monumental task! And if you notice the one Jesus complimented as getting close, John the Baptizer, he lived in the desert, wore rags and ate bugs and honey.
How do you handle the balance between grace and law in your own home? Are there teaching moments where grace is given? Are there times when justice is served and the consequences are handed out with love? How can you better show God’s characteristics of Justice and Grace with your children?