Thursday, 26 May 2011

Thinking Thursday: Looking For Loopholes

Peter asked Jesus, "How many times must I forgive?" (Matt.18:21), and the rich young man, who asked Jesus how to get eternal life, went away sadly, because he had hoped that Jesus would say something easier (Matt.19:16-22).

In 1 Sam.15:1-26 Saul was told by God to attack the Amalekites and destroy everything. But Saul spared Agag the king and the best animals. When Samuel confronted him, he first of all said that the sheep and cattle had been spared by the soldiers for sacrifice, and insisted he had done what he had been told to do. Even when he admitted his error, he tried to blame the people.

In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias & Sapphira made a promise and then looked for a way out. And in Matt.23:1-4 Jesus condemned the Pharisees because: “They do not practice what they preach.”

In all these cases people were looking for loopholes so they did not have to obey. In work I sometimes had to type legal notices – they have to be very carefully worded to make sure they cover every possibility. Legal documents would not have to be so complicated if people kept the law without looking for loopholes.

Salvation is free, but it really costs us everything. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt.22:37). When it comes to the gospel, do we live the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law? Are we wholehearted, or looking for loopholes?

It is the same in marriage. Marriage is not just a contract, it involves commitment and love. Love doesn’t need rules and guidelines. Love responds instinctively and gives everything. Our relationship with God is like a marriage. After all, God has given us everything. Paul tells us that God has given us “every spiritual blessing”, he talks of “his glorious grace which he has freely given us”, and “the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (Eph.1:3-8). How generous God is! God doesn’t look for loopholes.

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