Law, Grace and Being Nice

I recently read Leviticus, one of the most ignored books of the Bible. Due to our Leviticusian neglect, we tend to view the Law as being a horrible thing.

The Law does have a horrible component, a thing called a curse, but the Law is holy, just and good. The law is not bad, it has two main points, both of which are good:

1) Love God
2) Be nice

That’s my loose translation. Here’s an example from Leviticus, “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.”

That’s nice! Law followers were to take care of poor people, even if one of your own can no longer take care of himself, let him live with you as you would let a stranger live with you.

That’s fascinating to me because it implies that having poor strangers live with you was common, assumed you’d know what that was like, so of course you’d take care of one of your own.

I have never had a poor person live with me, except my wife, but I doubt that’s what was meant. I believe I would let someone live with me who fell on bad times, whether they’d want to is another matter.

But how cool would it be to live amongst a group of people who loved God and loved each other? Talk about security and peace!

How does this translate to NT conduct? Quite well–if any does not take care of his own he is worse than an infidel. What a shame that NT grace based obedience pales in comparison with Law based obedience.

Perhaps we’re off on something. Or perhaps Grace-based obedience fails just as much as Law-based obedience because people don’t like obeying period. Perhaps the real issue isn’t Law or Grace, but Faith or No Faith.

5 thoughts on “Law, Grace and Being Nice”

  1. Abraham, father of the faithful, practiced this kind of hospitality:

    Genesis 18:
    2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
    3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
    4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
    5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
    6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
    7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
    8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

    Notice how he took of the best of his provisions for these strangers. Although one of these visitors was Christ, and two were angels, it seems that Abraham was not aware of this at the beginning, so it wasn’t just a love to friends he was showing, but to strangers also.

    I also noticed that in John 8, Jesus tells the Jews that if they were the children of Abraham, they would “do the works of Abraham.” Interesting, He doesn’t say “have the faith of Abraham.”

  2. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
    I believe you hit the nail on the head Jeff, our walk is about trusting in Christ, if we could be justified by the works of the law, then Christ died in vain.

  3. Paul,
    There is a difference between the “works of the law” and the “works of Abraham.” However, if you take the stranger into your house, “by faith”, I’m sure it will be pleasing to God!

  4. Frank,
    As it turns out my wife and I have recently taken a stranger to us, into our home by faith. And yes Abraham’s works were the result of faith, not like the Jewish leaders who’s works were done for self-righteous reasons.

  5. The link between works and faith in Abraham is a doozy. ROmans 4–Abraham was justified by faith; James 2 Abraham was justified by works, not by faith alone. Faith and works go together. Works without faith is empty self-righteousness; faith without works is just empty and vain and profits nothing. Christ and the Word bring all things into the Light so that all should know the state of their heart on this issue.

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