“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:25-26
Human law is harsh. It is enforced to keep a large public safe; it is used to control behavior; it is misused by some for nefarious ends. And yet, no matter what happens, we’re subject to it. Step on the line, or over it, and those who ‘control’ the law, can use it to punish you. They will punish you until they are satisfied; for some, satisfaction isn’t enough. That was true of the Pharisees; it’s true of some now. The purpose of man’s law is vengeance. Jesus tells us to settle matters quickly, under human law, because He understood this.
So, how do these verses apply to God’s law? The purpose of God’s law is to demonstrate God’s grace. God’s law was given by Him, in love, to us, for our benefit. Through it, He established codes and practices for us to live with each other in ways that honor Him. When we keep God’s law, we honor Him and love our neighbors. When we keep God’s law, we live in constructive ways that prosper us and make the ground ready to receive His innumerable blessings.
God’s law, in Jesus Christ, is written on our hearts now. What happens when we transgress?
The older I get, the more I believe that, when we receive punishments that seem to be from God, it is because God has removed His protective hand over us and we simply receive the natural consequences our actions deserve. Through it all, God remains with us. He doesn’t abandon us even if He appears to stand aside. He does it so we might repent and turn back to Him. For God, even the last minute of our lives is more than enough time to impart to us His eternal forgiveness.
Which He gave us through Jesus, His only Son. Jesus lived in a world much harsher than our own. During what we call “Holy Week,” Jesus was advancing forward, towards the cross. He knew what was ahead, and He was doing all that was necessary to finish His ministry; to prepare His friends for what would happen; to institute sacraments; to punctuate the words of His Gospel. At the end of the week, He subjected Himself to the capital outcome of the worst in human law. What took Him to the cross was our old law of sin…and He settled it forever. Human law is a part of our life here, but we must always remember we are under God’s perfect law in Christ.
For more reading: Matthew 5:27
I am a citizen of heaven under Your law, Lord.