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The Spirit of the Law

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Matthew 25 presents one of the most compelling passages of Scripture. Here Jesus tells us that when we tend to the lonely, the sick, the hungry, or the prisoner, we are in fact tending to him (Matthew 25:35-40). The message draws me to Jesus’ earlier reproach to the Scribes and Pharisees that, although they observe the letter of the law, they have missed its very spirit: justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).

I recently watched the film The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, based on a true story about a Malawian schoolboy who saves his community from impending starvation by constructing a wind-powered crop irrigation system. The film pierced me – not least because Malawi has played a role in my family history, but primarily because its themes captured the very spirit Jesus taught us.

This true story of one boy's life spoke broader truths to me. A truth about greed and injustice, and the absence of mercy. It spoke to the comfortable culture of accumulation we inhabit in the West. For all that we have, too often we live to accumulate more: the shinier kitchen, the newer car, the latest trend. We live in the realm of luxuries and status when so many want for essentials.

If we are honest, maybe we all carry a hint of accumulation in our habits, to greater or lesser degrees. What that film asked of me, as Jesus asks of me, is not so much about a world system infused with greed and injustice, but to question myself. For when Jesus speaks in Matthew 25 he is speaking to our hearts and to our choices. He is teasing out how we steward what is within our gift, be that time, talents or resources, and searching out how we view others.

Jesus said the world will know that we are his disciples because we love one another (John 13:35). In Matthew 25, he signals that if we are his disciples, we are his arms and his feet, and also his heart and his eyes in a hurting world.

Matthew 25 is an invitation to explore how we use what God has placed within our hands and offer it for his glory, a theme also reflected in 1 Peter 4:10. That's remembering the spirit of the law!

For further reading: Isaiah 58:6-7; Micah 6:8 and Matthew 25:41-46.

Copyright © Sharmila Meadows 2021

Scripture quotations are from The ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Thank you for reading The Mission Post. I wonder what Matthew 25 says to you? Do you find it a questioning passage or maybe your take is quite different? Perhaps there are other Bible verses on these themes that pierce you more. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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