Wednesday, December 23, 2009


“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ Do not murder,’ Do not steal,’ Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
~Romans 13.8-9

It is easy, particularly this time of year, to speak in superlatives about loving humanity and my fellowman. Peace on earth! Goodwill to men! Such phrases trip lightly off the tongue - especially when (like me) you’ve been watching too many Christmas movies.

But when it comes to loving individuals - the people whom I encounter on a daily basis – that is something else entirely; something infinitely more challenging. To love those persons often requires an added measure of grace; a certain quality or caliber of soul; even a kind of miracle.

This afternoon, after a particularly difficult encounter, I was choking on my own failure, about to hang my head in blunt resignation, sure that there was no hope of my ever rising to such a lofty occasion as loving my neighbor as myself… when I remembered that a miracle has taken place:

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known… This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

When God carved the Ten Commandments onto those tablets of stone He gave the Israelites a picture of His own righteousness - a practical representation of the abstract perfection of God. To be righteous, according to the Law, meant one did not commit adultery, did not murder or steal - did not even covet!

But this Law which God spoke into existence on that high hill so many years ago never had the power to save; only to condemn. And I would still be standing in the shadow of that condemnation were it not for the birth and death of Jesus Christ.

Though I will struggle against sin until the day I die, I realized with renewed awe that I am no longer compelled to perpetually indulge my basest instincts toward impatience, unkindness, and jealousy. Now, because of his life and death and resurrection, I am under a new law, the law of the Spirit of life, which frees me to exhibit kindness, to exercise patience, and to embrace with gratitude the circumstances which He has seen fit to bring into my life.

I realize that I cannot be this woman who loves, truly and unselfishly, in my own strength; for the HM Baker of Genematas Drive is not naturally disposed toward putting the interests of others above her own.

Yet if Scripture speaks rightly, and I believe it does, then the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is residing within me; this Spirit, the spirit of Christ, "helps us in our weakness" and "intercedes for us with groanings that words cannot express."

May I be inspired to remember, this Christmas, the profound cost Christ paid in order to grant me this gift - the gift of His righteousness - and let me not forget the glorious opportunity I have to depend on Him, every moment exchanging my weakness for His strength, as He uses my circumstances to transform my character and make me holy, just as He is holy.

‘To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Jude 1.24).

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