For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
As my husband, Danny, and I put our heads together to plan out the meals for the coming week, we decide that a crock pot offering on my part, for at least one of those dinners, will greatly alleviate his stress from several 12-hour, downtown days at work. Danny is in the mood for a Beef Bourguignon. The recipe he finds? Daunting!
Can we say this slow-to-chop-slow-to-prep cook is feeling a wee bit insecure?
I read through the recipe repeatedly the night before I'm going to use the crock pot, and I find myself questioning the logic and necessity of some of the steps involved. Why do the onions have to be sauteed? Carrots and celery, too? Really? And the mushrooms? Why do they require any pre-cooking?
But when I finally set about to prepare the ingredients the next morning, I decide to play it safe and follow the recipe to the letter. (Well, I confess I only estimated the amount of wine and totally forgot to add that last pinch of salt.) Sure, it takes, to my mind, excessive preparation, but the end result? As Danny declares that evening, "It's the best Beef Bourguignon I've ever tasted!"
My experience with this brand new recipe reminds me of God's laws set out in the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments are clear and simple. He gave them to us as a recipe we must follow to the letter in order to stay close to Him.
We may have every good intention in keeping these laws, but somewhere along the line, in our human weakness, we are bound to fail in our attempts. We begin to question, as I did with the steps in the recipe, if God really meant what He said, or are we allowed some leeway for our own interpretations.
The Old Testament contains story after story recounting the numerous and egregious sins committed by the tribes of Israel and Judah. No matter how many times the people repented and tried again, they simply could not follow God's commandments on their own. They needed something more to stay the course of their relationship with Him.
Enter Christ Jesus, the Messiah, who declares in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
How? By grace!
Because when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, He works in us through the Holy Spirit. Transforms us little by little to be more like Him. Engraves God's laws not on tablets of stone, but in the soft, pliant flesh of our hearts.
And when we still mess up, for we will, Jesus forgives us if we turn to Him with repentance for our sins.
And it's enough for me.
Instead of sharing a prayer today, I invite you to listen to the song, Your Grace is Enough, by Chris Tomlin. Enjoy and sing along!