The Law and Love

Lately I have been reading through Exodus. My reading for today was Exodus 22. Exodus is really exciting in the beginning, with the burning bush, plagues, Angels of Death, and all that is going on. The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus 20, and then Moses starts in on some of the law given to him by God. Some might call it boring, particularly chapter 22, which starts off with an admonition about what to do if a man is caught stealing an ox, and moves on to grazing animals, borrowed animals, and so on.

But then right in the middle of all of that is Exodus 22:21-27

“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.“If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest. “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious.

Right there in the middle of the instructions about stolen cattle and grazing land, is this warning from God for them to be kind to strangers, for they were strangers once also. "Don't forget where you came from" God is saying, and if you do I will know and stand up for those who have no one to stand up for them, like the widows and orphans. He then moves on to say not to take advantage of the poor when lending them money.

I love that this comes right in the middle of these chapters about the law. That's what grace often does. It sneaks up on us right when we least expect it. It also reminds that being kind to people and showing them grace is not just Sunday thing or a mission trip thing, but something we are to do throughout our normal weeks, dealing with cattle and work, and all the things that make up life. Too often we regulate serving God to being on Sunday, Wednesdays, and mission trips. But God reminds us here that looking out for others, standing up for them, taking care of those who cannot do so themselves, is something to be done all the time, in the middle of deadlines and budgets and cubicles and whatever it is you do with your weeks. Don't forget to look for opportunities all around you.


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