Are there laws you think are silly? Perhaps there are laws you wish you could ignore. Are there laws you disobey? There are some laws that seem to contradict themselves, aren’t there? I’m sure we could pick apart many laws, if we got started on it.
The Jews had laws that were given to them by God. They started with the ten commandments and were added to over the years. The Jewish Rabbi’s then put hedges around those laws in an effort to keep the people from breaking them.
What do I mean by a hedge around a law? An example is the law that they were to rest on the Sabbath. The Rabbi’s defined work as walking more than 100 steps from their home. Now, isn’t that a bit silly? If you are a shepherd, how do you not walk more than 100 steps to talk care of the flock? The Rabbi’s put rules in place to enforce the letter of the law rather than abiding by the spirit of the law. The intent of this particular law was to encourage people to take a day of rest to allow the body and mind to relax and prepare for another week of work.
Have we become like the Rabbi’s? Have we put hedges around the commands of Jesus? The two greatest commands according to Jesus are to love God and love your neighbor. He said all the Law and the Prophets hung on these two commands (Matthew 22:37-40). In other words, Jesus is saying that when we do everything in the spirit of love, we are following the law.
I believe this is also the point Paul is trying to get across in today’s passage. When we are buried in the baptism of Jesus Christ, we die to the law. We rise in love. We are to love as Jesus loved at all times in all situations. It is through our love for God and one another that we are to act, respond, and speak.
Notice that Paul says we must die to bear fruit. Isn’t that the same as happens when we plant fields of grain? The seed goes into the ground, it dies to itself, and grows into the plant that bears fruit. This analogy is used often to represent our lives. We die to our own wants, desires, and preferences in order to grow into the person God intended us to be and bear the fruit He intended us to bear.
I pray we all give up our legalistic points of view. I pray we die to our own wants, desires, and preferences. I pray each one of us live by the two greatest commands. Die to self. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor. Live a life free of the law.
Romans 7:4-6 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.