“…I desire mercy, not sacrifice…” (Matthew 12:7)
There was once a soldier who was fatally wounded during an encounter with enemy soldiers. On his leg was a serious bullet wound which caused him extreme pain. The wounded soldier wanted to extricate the bullet from the wound in order to lessen the pain and to prevent any infection. So he called on a fellow soldier, handed him a combat knife and said, “Here’s a knife. Help me take away the pain…” The fellow soldier took the knife, thought for awhile, and then stabbed him to death. “There,” said the fellow soldier, “No more pain, eh.”
In this story, the knife could’ve been used to save a life. Instead, it was used to bring death.
The same thing with God’s law. God’s laws are there in order to bring life to His people. Unfortunately, some people use the law precisely to bring death. That was the reason why Jesus always came in conflict with the Pharisees.
In the Gospel today, the Pharisees were again using the law of keeping the Sabbath day holy as a means to starve the apostles. They questioned why they ate the grain of wheat on the Sabbath. Jesus’ reply can be summed up in one sentence:
“…I desire mercy, not sacrifice…” (Matthew 12:7).
Jesus was quick to remind them that God’s laws are there precisely for the purpose of giving life, not death; of helping, not burdening; of showing limitless mercy, not imposing needless sacrifice. Indeed, when God’s law is misused and abused, His people suffer.
Nothing much has changed today.
Many people still misuse God’s selfless laws for man’s selfish needs.
For instance, a husband can abuse his God-given pastoral authority over his wife. Result: Physically or emotionally battered spouses.
A politician abusing his God-given political power to enrich himself. Result: Widespread poverty and distrust.
A doctor using his God-given medical gift to perform abortion. Result: Physical death to the fetus, and spiritual death to the mother.
A lawyer using his God-given priviliege by lying in order to get his guilty client off the hook. Result: Injustice.
A mother using her God-entrusted role through over-protectiveness of her child. Result: Stifled growth.
Today, I invite you to see the spirit behind all of God’s laws. Don’t misuse them in your own life. Rather, use them for God’s purpose. His laws are there, not to burden, but to love.
In Christ’s love,