Readings for the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany
Matthew 5:21-37; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The letter of the law or the spirit of the law. Do you know the difference? Those who follow the letter of the law say things like: “Can I get away with doing this?” “Do I have to do that?” “What’s the worst that can happen to me if I don’t?” By contrast, those who follow the spirit of the law do so because they understand and appreciate the law’s good purpose. Furthermore, they care about everyone that law affects. And most importantly, they have faith in and respect for the one who gave that law.
In this third reading from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he describes what it looks like to follow not just the letter, but the spirit of God’s laws, with regard to anger, lust, divorce and oath-taking (Matt 3). These words will be convicting to even the most pious of Christians. Praise God that our Teacher is also our Savior and Redeemer! Genuine righteousness comes only through him.
In the Old Testament reading, the LORD sets before his people two starkly contrasting choices. They can trust and obey him which is the path of life, or they can chase other gods and rebel against him which is the path of death. There is no middle way (Deut 30).
In the epistle reading, Paul tells the immature Corinthian churches to stop their jealousy and bickering, and rediscover their unity in Christ. One may plant and another may water, but God alone gives the growth (1 Cor 3).