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An integrated life

Letting Our Light Shine Before Men

Some folks ask me what this “integrated life” stuff has to do with the gospel. Sometimes, I am accused of being “legalistic” or “pharisaical”. Well, I certainly won’t say that I don’t have my legalistic or pharisaical moments, but I do understand the gospel, and it compels me to lead, or attempt to lead, an integrated life, with love for the Lord holding it all together.

This morning I was reading Matthew 5:13-20… by the way, all Scripture quotations below are taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
 Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation 
Used by permission. (http://www.Lockman.org)

13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. Ultimately, he fulfilled the law by paying the penalty for our sins. Whether I, or anyone else, leads an integrated life doesn’t really matter when it comes to our final destination.

But, you know, he could have just said that and left out all the rest. Nowhere in his time on earth did he ever say that we should ignore God’s design. He told us to make disciples – those that follow. We can’t follow our leader and ignore His design. That would be hypocritical. That’s what he had against the pharisees, not that they “followed the law”, but that they added to the law and had no compassion and mercy… that’s not following God. If you look at what Jesus pointed out, he didn’t say, to be righteous you must become antinomians (those who think that law no longer applies to them). Jesus actually pointed out that righteousness exceeds following the letter of the law (like the Pharisees did) to the spirit of the law. (Read the rest of Matthew 5 through chapter 7)

So, this week in the bible study I’m leading, we are discussing our responsibilities to our daughters (or future daughters). One of the passages we are studying is Numbers 30. Now those who are egalitarian or antinomian will say that these are archaic, antiquated, chauvinistic rules loved by those men who love to oppress women and not very Christian. Although they may be loved by men who love to oppress woman, leaving it at that would miss the spirit of the law. In fact, I think Jesus Christ would disapprove of those who follow the letter of Numbers 30 who miss the spirit of the law and call them hypocrites like he called the pharisees. Jesus tells us not to be like those who love lording over others. But that is not what Numbers 30 is about. It is about the responsibility to protect our daughters and wives.

Let’s look at this a little deeper. Numbers 30:3-5 states:

3 ″Also if a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 ″But if her father should forbid her on the day he hears of it, none of her vows or her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the LORD will forgive her because her father had forbidden her.

Authority and responsibility go together. But, if we lift authority over responsibility, we usually get into trouble.

For example, say my daughter tells someone whose car has just broken down that they can borrow our family’s car. I can pull out the authority given me and tell my daughter how rash she was, how she shouldn’t have said anything to anyone about borrowing our car before asking me first, and tell the broken down person that my daughter spoke out of turn and I did not give her the authority to offer our car. Sorry, you have to find another ride.

Same situation, but I pull out the responsibility given me and begin to inquire who the person is who broke down. If I find out that it was someone in a stolen car who was wanted by the police, I can use my authority to release my daughter from her rash vow and keep her from being an accomplice to a crime. I’ve protected my daughter as a responsible father should.

Granted, the example I gave was a bit forced, but I think it clearly illustrates the point that God gives the authority of the father not to lord it over her, but to protect her.

My daughter gets that. She loves living here and she loves that her daddy believes Numbers 30 applies to her life. She’d rather be protected here than unprotected on her own.

I remember hearing many years ago, a retiring judge in Texas who said, “in all my years on the bench, I’ve never had a woman who was loved by her father standing before me in a position of trouble”.

Know God’s law. Learn and follow the spirit of it. Responsibility should come with authority, but authority should never trump it. Jesus was given all authority and he took the responsibility for our sins.

Praise the Lord!

Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.