Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Spirit of the Law”
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
Growing up, I suppose I was like most kids, and my parents were like most parents. And I had several manipulative ways to get what I wanted. Direct attacks didn’t usually work—my parents would win every argument because they wielded the authority. But, if Mom was in a bad mood, I knew to tip toe around the corner to ask Dad and that would increase the chances of achieving my goal. The sneakiest of all was this: when I knew they both opposed what I wanted, I would try to tell Dad, “But Mom said I could…”—my plan would usually backfire shortly thereafter.
My parents, of one accord, were looking out for my good, but I, as a disobedient child, tried to go around their will. Like the Pharisees, I could only see the rules placed in front of me, around my neck—I couldn’t understand my parents’ heart behind them.
In my eyes, my parents enjoyed making so many rules so they could restrict me. On the other hand, I wanted more rules so I could take credit for following them. In my mind, I would receive glory for being obedient, instead of my parents receiving glory for creating a good rule. My will was focused on my own delight and my own glory.
When Jesus recognizes the hardness of our human hearts, He still sees us with compassion. Though Jesus has all of the authority that His Father has given Him, Jesus doesn’t punish us when we still “don’t get it.” Hard hearts, deaf ears, and blind eyes keep us from experiencing the new life that God desires for His children.
Jesus and the Father have one will and one mind. For a God who created everything, and knows everything, and sees everything— in our past and our future—there’s little we can get away with. We can try to manipulate the law to serve our desires, but this twists what protection Jesus offers us in His will.
As we appeal to authority, Jesus guides our minds, our hearts, our souls, our strength to be one with Him, in the fullness of our being. Let us not separate what God has brought together, but wholeheartedly surrender to our Father’s heart and will—even when we think we know better.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we praise You, for Your will is good, acceptable, and perfect. Help us, as your sons and daughters, to know You as our Father, so we can know Your heart for us and for the world. We want to delight in what You delight in with all of our being. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Colossians 1
Lunch Break Study
Read: Philippians 3:1-10: Finally, my brothers,1 rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God 2 and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,3 blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death . . .
Questions to Consider
- What are Paul’s reasons for having confidence in the flesh? In what ways do you put confidence in your flesh?
- How does Paul now describe his previous reasons for confidence in the flesh?
- What is the one thing that Paul now strives for? In light of your previous confidence, what does this look like for you?
- Paul was circumcised on the eighth day; he is an Israelite (Benjaminite), a Hebrew of Hebrews, Pharisee blameless under the law, a persecutor of the church. (Personal reasons will vary. Go deep!)
- Trash and rubbish. He considers all as loss that he may gain Christ and be found in Him.
- Pressing on toward the upward call of God, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
As Paul describes his confidence in the flesh as a loss for the sake of Christ, he reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Even if we don’t carry a physical passport, reflect on how you (tomorrow!) could live out the power that comes from belonging to Our Father in Heaven.