I work in the construction industry and in my role at work I must read all the contracts before they’re signed and returned to our clients. It’s work to be done very carefully because if you miss a detail in the contract all the handshakes in the world are not going to fix the problem.
One of the ways the client can “stick” me is to be able to show that I have read and agreed to all the provisions of the document and the way they prove that is to require my initials on every page of the contract. This is pretty conventional in the industry and I don’t give it much thought – at least I didn’t until last week when one of our clients returned a contract because I had forgotten to initial a page.
Except it turns out that I hadn’t neglected to initial the page. The omission was intentional because it was the signature page of the contract. I had assumed that my signature would be evidence enough that I had looked at that page of the contract. However, the clerk who received it is obviously under strict orders to see that every page is initialed and nothing was getting by him or her!
Humerous as this incident seems to me (I dutifully initialled the page) it has me thinking about God’s Law. This clerk was following instructions down to the last jot and tittle. Do I follow God’s instructions nearly as well? Not a chance.
But aren’t we under instruction to follow the Law? Says Christ in Matthew 5, verse 18, “For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Now, as mentioned above, I read contracts very carefully to understand what is expected. Reading Matt 5:18 just as carefully reveals very little wiggle room, or shall we say no wiggle room, for abiding by God’s commands.
The law Christ is referring to is written. It has jots and tittles, otherwise known as the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s. To be written and for Christ to be talking of it means we are necessarily dealing with Old Testament moral law.
Second, we see that it was all to be fulfilled. No extra verses laying out exceptions. No expiration date (except heaven and earth pass).
So, yes – we live under grace. We no longer need to fulfill the law to obtain salvation from our sins. But we still need to fulfill the law in obedience to God and Christ!
I resolve to be a good clerk. I’ll initial every page of God’s covenant with me, i.e. read it at least as carefully as I read contracts. But then by God’s grace and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I’ll follow the spirit and letter of the law because I want to and not because I’m “stuck.”
~ John Bingaman