“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.” Matthew 5:17
Rules are rules. We often dislike them and chafe under them. We have a natural antagonism towards regulations of any kind. They restrict our freedom and upset our sense of pride and self-determination.
But not all rules are the same. Some are, as we always suspected, designed to control us to protect the interests of others. Sometimes parents tell their children to be quiet, not because the children need to learn that skill, but because the parents prefer quiet. Sometimes bosses assign projects to their workers solely for their personal gain, rather than for the benefit of the workers, or even for the good of the company.
Other rules are different. They are designed to protect us from ourselves. They are designed to teach us good and to shore up the weakness in us that always tends towards self destruction. The problem we frequently encounter is knowing which rules are which. How do we know which rules to defy and which rules to embrace?
The character of the rule giver provides us easy clues. Some of Christ’s followers might have mistrusted the law. They might have seen it as invasive or unnecessary. But Christ advised them in our text for today that He wasn’t there to abolish the law but to fulfill it.
His fulfillment would come on the cross. There, the law of God was vindicated. Christ’s voluntary death to pay the price of the law proved it didn’t come from a self-serving tyrant. It was given by a self-sacrificing, benevolent creator. The root of God’s law was not control. It was love.
Many of us are rule givers – in our families, our workplaces or elsewhere. On what basis do we craft rules for others? Are we preparing to control them or to sacrifice ourselves for them? May we always follow Christ’s example and instill trust and appreciation in those who look to us for the rules they live by.