We naturally like to hear of philanthropy, of charity, of giving. Our hearts may be warmed as we hear of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett choosing to give billions of dollars away. On a more personal level, I know I am deeply encouraged when I encounter instances of giving in the church: when I see church members organizing freely to make meals for someone who needs them, or when I hear about an encouraging letter written to someone who is discouraged, or when I hear someone share a story about evangelism on a Sunday evening, or when someone tells me of their own growth they've found, maybe in their ability to love or to forgive by God's grace. Seeing others give, even if it's not to us, encourages us.
When we hear words like "law" and "command," "precept" and "statute," we naturally think of what we can do. Some of us work in Congress or a state assembly or other bodies that make laws and rules. Others of us do that as employers. Teachers do that for their classrooms; parents do that for their children. We also think of our ability to keep the law, of what we can do. Some laws can be good, and yet hard for us to obey: how many times did my grade school teachers tell me to be quiet?
Sometimes, when we hear rules and regulations talked about, we think they're just cold, formal rules that have nothing to do with anything other than technical matters; they're far removed from the sphere of personal relationships. In your friendships, do you have rules that you follow?
Language of commandment and requirement pushes us to look at our own law-keeping. The prospect of a church spending a few weeks looking at the longest chapter in the Old Testament, which is all about ...
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