Mercy Street Church of Christ
Abilene, TX
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Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath...

Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil? (Luke 6:9)

Can you imagine being forbidden from lifting something heavier than a fig on the Sabbath?

At first, God told the Israelites to keep the Sabbath holy. Then, as the Law of Moses was codified, that commandment was broken down into subcategories of work that were prohibited on the Sabbath. But over time, thousands of very specific rules were created to further define what constituted “work” in daily life. And as you might expect, some of these rules became quite petty. For example, carrying more than one swallow of milk was forbidden. So was medical help, except in specific cases or when a person’s life was in danger.

Then came Jesus. He cleverly broke many of these “little rules” in order to bring attention to the way some people were focusing on externals rather than the heart of God’s laws. This may have infuriated some Pharisees, but it also won over many more everyday people.

How quick are you to judge people? By what standards? Is it according to the law of love or your own personal interpretations of that law? It’s good to be vigilant and to try to be as pleasing to the Lord as possible. But getting stuck in the “weeds” of every individual rule can blind us to God’s desire for us to become vessels of his love, compassion, and justice in this world.

I don't think Jesus set out to provoke his opponents. He simply did what needed to be done, and he did it in love. This is what he asks us to do as well. He wants us to become servants, just as he was. He wants us to lift people up and show them what true freedom looks like. Sometimes this may mean going against traditions or everyday expectations, but it never means breaking the commandments.

It’s okay to experiment with human traditions, so long as your heart is in the right place. God won’t hold it against you if you make a mistake or two along the way. While he expects us to obey his commandments, he also knows that we’re still learning. Just try your best to care for people, and let him teach you.

“Lord, help me to see people as you see them. Show me your love, Lord, so that I can share it with everyone around me!”

Colossians 1:24–2:3; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11

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