Life would be so much easier if it was black and white.
Reference: v.7 "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." (NIV Bible)
Explore: English is a crazy language: You cut a tree down to chop it up; Once you read a book it means you've read it; Their hat is over there and they're going to wear it. Some people say that English is the hardest language to learn. It's not so much all the literary rules, it's all the exceptions to the rules that make it difficult: 'i' before 'e'… except after 'c'. It would be so much easier if we just stuck to the rules.
The Pharisees viewed life like that: it would be so much easier if we just stuck to the rules. There were hundreds and hundreds of rules they lived their life by and they expected others to do likewise. The radical difference that Jesus made was that he knew the rules and yet he had an exception to the rule: mercy. This would mean that he placed people's needs before religious structure. He didn't totally throw the structure out but he would show mercy before legalism.
Application: Life would be so much easier if it was black and white. Often Christians search through scriptures to find the 'dos' and 'don'ts' so decision making is easier and they know they are definitely following God. However God's world is not made up of black and white structures. There are so many shades of grey. In the New Testament Jesus narrows all the commands down to two: Love God and Love Others. And yet even in those two commands there is so much diversity. We need to constantly be discerning what is the best way God would have us live and that's not always easy. One thing that Jesus taught us though is that people are important to God… all people, particularly the hurting, the sick and the sad. As we live out our faith we must be reminded that there are always exceptions to the rule, and although it makes life more challenging we must put mercy before legalism.
Prayer: Lord, we are so fortunate that you have put mercy before legalism otherwise we would never be able to enter into your presence. May we do the same to the people around us. Amen.
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This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.