Think It Through

Think It Through

05 August 2011

Reading: 2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 35; John 7


21 Jesus replied, “ I worked on the Sabbath by healing a man, and you were offended. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision… 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it, so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should I be conndemned foir making a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Think this through and you will see that I am right.” (John 7:21-24 NLT)

This little vignette from Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisee leaders of the Jews captures the essence of legalism. Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath Day and they were trying to arrest him – even kill him – because they thought the healing of the man was technically “work” and work was forbidden on the Sabbath!

Jesus tried to get them to think it through – here and in other incidents recorded in the gospels – that to do good was permitted, even demanded, on a Sabbath Day or any other day. Their legalistic approach to the law said, “Either you obey the law in every detail, or you are sinning.” Jesus said, “You can both obey the law God gave through Moses, and make an exception to the detail if the exception is a higher good!”

Details may have changed, but legalism is still the same. “Either-Or” legalism still fights against “Both-And” grace because “Either-Or” legalism doesn’t require the hard work of thinking things through and getting to the heart of the matter. Religion still puts its own rules and policies above the law of the heart, the law of love, which leads us to do good whenever it is in our power to do it.

The answer to legalism is still the same, “Think it through!” Think it through in the light of the big picture, in the light of God’s higher law of love. In Jesus’ eyes, doing good is a higher law than being right!


Father, It’s easy for us to be lazy and to make quick judgments based on the rules. It’s comparatively easy for us to be “Either-Or” legalists instead of being Spirit-led, “Both-And” followers of Jesus. Please help me to do the much harder work of “thinking things through.” Please keep challenging me so I can challenge and encourage others to the Jesus way. May we seek to be led by the Spirit of the law of love and never merely settle for the letter of the law of judgment. Amen.

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