Open your Bible and read Luke 13.
Our family had a “law” about Christmas gifts: They must be opened on Christmas Eve. The Christmas I was 9 years old, my brother and I pleaded with our parents to let us open “please just one gift” a day early. I can still clearly see the twinkle in Dad’s eyes and the grin on his face as he pondered our request and finally consented.
I don’t remember the gifts I got during our regular law-abiding gift-opening that Christmas Eve, but the love and joy we received from our parents on that December 23rd is an imprint upon my memory for all time.
The Law vs True Love
So far in our journey through the Book of Luke, we’ve seen God’s emphasis on relationship vs. rules and truth vs. tradition. If you haven’t read those devotionals yet, please do so you understand the context of this one. Today’s reading of Luke 13 is a continuation of that theme from the angle of Law vs Love.
The Sabbath was a day traditionally set apart as a day of rest according to the Law of Moses. Devout Jews religiously avoided any kind of work on the Sabbath. So when Jesus healed a woman who had been suffering for 18 years, the Jews accused Jesus of breaking the religious Law (v. 10-14).
Jesus responded by exposing the false religion of His accusers. They were religious, but their motivation was wrong. It was pride. When they adhered to the religious Law, they were puffed up and felt superior to everyone else. They condemned anyone who failed to keep the Law in the way they believed it should be kept.
This kind of self-righteous religiosity is false religion. Jesus compared it to yeast in verse 21. It puffs itself up, produces growth that looks good on the surface, but inside, it’s just air bubbles. There’s no real substance.
Jesus said others would know we’re faithful disciples not by how well we keep the Law (religious rules and regulations), but by how well we love people.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35, ESV).’”
Let Love Rule
Our family Christmas tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve wasn’t the Law, but it was a tradition that had never been broken. Our parents could’ve refused to give in to our request for breaking the family “law”. But they didn’t. Their love for us overruled the family tradition, and it was a blessing for all four of us. (I know it’s a weak analogy, but I tried!)
This Christmas season, let’s reevaluate the motivation behind our traditions. Why is it so important to us that we do things this way? May love be the factor that determines what you do and don’t do.
Let’s also remember that relationships matter more than keeping rules for rules’ sake, and Jesus came to Earth as a baby not to enforce the Law of Moses, but because of love.
Demonstrate your love for Jesus by loving others well.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you (James 1:27, NLT).”