Dos and Don’ts

The law and its implementing rules are often expressed in terms of Don’ts and as a list of prohibitions. When Christ came to fulfill the law, he turned all these Don’ts in to Do’s and changed the prohibitions into affirmative actions.

Thus, “Thou shalt not kill” became healing the sick and the dying, healing broken relationships, bringing people together in community. “Thou shalt not steal” became sharing what I have with the needy, giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” became welcoming the stranger and sheltering the homeless without any ulterior motives, clothing the naked instead of taking advantage of them. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” became witnessing for the truth, glorying in the accomplishments of my neighbor and sharing in the joys of their achievements.

Expressed in this manner, Don’ts are easier to do than Dos. Don’ts are passive and relatively free of risk. Dos are proactive and fraught with risks – the risk of getting hurt, being misinterpreted, and being subject to failure. In the Parable of the Talents, the master praised the servant who actually took the risks and did something with the money entrusted to him. In contrast, the master condemned the servant who did nothing, risked nothing and instead just buried the money for safekeeping.

Fulfilling the law is not avoiding risks nor is it about doing nothing. Fulfilling the law is about taking action and doing my share in building the kingdom of God here on earth. I pray that my observance of the law be expressed more in the things that I do rather than in those that I avoid doing.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 5: 17-19

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