God’s Wonderful Law
We live in a day and age in which freedom is understood to mean the right to do whatever you want to do. In our own country, “independence” is explicitly connected to the “inalienable” right to pursue your personal happiness without interference from others. And as a culture we celebrate this – religiously.
This July, I would like to challenge both myself and all of you to consider a passage of scripture that speaks in tones and with words that are significantly at odds with our natural assumptions. Take a moment and read Psalm 119:129-136 and consider these lines:
“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them”
“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”
This first line is almost unimaginably counter-cultural. Your statutes are wonderful. No word studies are necessary to understand wonderful – the word hasn’t shifted its meaning in English since it was first used to translate this idea of majestic, awesome, miraculous, and splendid. That is precisely how we should feel about the law of God. It should be of such great beauty and attraction to us that our heart’s desire is to obey: “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.”
Do we feel that way? Too often the sense I get from interacting with Christians is that we value and keep the laws that we perceive will improve our lives. The “wonderful” element is not discovered in the law itself but rather in the effect of the law for us. If we find a law to be burdensome or ill-suited to our immediate agenda, we find no beauty in such a law – instead we relegate it to an earlier time and in often act and feel as if it would be immature or downright sinful for us to keep such a law as we are “freed” by grace! And if this is our reaction, we are at odds with the rule of faith.
This month, as we celebrate Independence Day, let us remember that we are free from needing to keep the law in order to secure a relationship with God – we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). BUT, we are yet “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (Eph. 2:10). When Jesus himself teaches his disciples about the law, his first statement is “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets!” (Matt. 5:17).
As a Christian, your first reaction to the law, and more specifically, the laws of God, should be one of wonder. God’s laws, from Genesis on, are as precious as gold, as sweet as honey; wonderful. Sadly, like me, you rarely see the beauty of God’s law first – instead you see the limitation of your freedom and the crimping of your own will. Earlier in Psalm 119:18, David asked God to “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” Won’t you join me in praying with David that our eyes are opened and that we would find God’s law to be wonderful, and that no sin would rule over us? That is freedom.