Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ
Before we can have the correct attitude towards the commandments, we have to be able to acknowledge that we have flaws and that our behavior needs to change. It is all-too-easy to fall into justifying ourselves, stating that our strengths are sufficient and that our failings are only minor. So long as this is our position, then the commandments will feel like a personal attack, asking for changes that we insist we have no need of. We will become defensive, or even hostile.
Good cannot teach us anything if we “already know everything.”
But if we can be humble and admit that there are changes that need to happen in our lives, then we are open to being taught by a schoolmaster. Now we are teachable.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee
The question of who we are must eventually come to terms with the truths proclaimed in these verses: that we are creations of God. I say “come to terms” because this notion of being someone else’s creation rubs against the grain of our modern culture. Each of us crave to be a self-made man or woman, one who doesn’t owe anything to anyone, someone who no one else has any claim on. To suggest that that we might be a creation offends a part of us.
But…it also makes another part of us very excited. For we also speak longingly of finding somewhere where we feel we belong, a calling that we were meant to fill, a situation that we were uniquely fitted for. But how do we belong, or are meant to fill, or are uniquely fitted, unless we were designed–created–by another to be so?
There is no shame in saying that we are another’s creation, but there is a humility in it.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things
I will praise thee, Lord, for great is thy mercy: thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell
After Mary was given the calling to be the mother of God she took to praising Him for it. The Psalmist, too, was well versed in recalling the many blessings he had received, and giving God glory for them.
Of course Mary had prepared for her holy station by the way she lived a pure life, and the Psalmist had shown how brave he was, facing down giants in the name of the Lord. They had unquestionably done many good things, and arguably therefore deserved good thing. Even so, both of them acknowledged that what God had done for them had left them in awe. It wasn’t just good, it was incomprehensibly, abundantly good.
These two Saints remind us that you can be a good person, even a great person, and still acknowledge that God has made you what you are. You can accomplish wonderful things, wield powerful talents, and still hold on to your humility. For the great among us are the greatly blessed, and it behooves them to remember that fact.
When life has been good, when blessings have flowed richly, I have felt that temptation to say “look what I have done.” I have had the urge to praise myself, even when the gifts being given I had done literally nothing to obtain. At times like these I have had to remind myself that even my ability to breathe and continue in life should be considered a blessing. And everything beyond just breathing and living should be considered a blessings as well. In short, all things should be counted among my blessings.
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry
The story of Jonah is very interesting. First God calls him to teach the people of Nineveh and he tries to run away. Then he repents of that folly and goes and proclaims death and destruction on the city. They repent and are spared, and he is furious that God is willing to forgive them.
Jonah clearly knows God, has intimate conversations with Him, and presumably wants to be a good disciple…but he keeps butting heads with God anyhow. He thinks that God’s policy should be one way, and is disappointed when it is otherwise. In this small story of his life, Jonah seems to be more devoted to his sense of what is right than God’s.
But we probably shouldn’t criticize him too harshly, because I think each of us disagrees with God on one point or another, even as we’re trying to follow Him. Some of us are worried that God is too lenient, afraid that He isn’t going to punish those who deserve it. Some of us are worried that God is too harsh, afraid that He won’t accept us with all of our indulgences.
When we make up our minds as to what the spiritual truths are supposed to be, we then become very touchy when someone suggests that we are wrong. Like Jonah, “it displeases us exceedingly, and we are very angry!”
I have personally experienced this a few times, and in hindsight I’ve always realized that my anger was not righteous indignation, I was lashing out because someone had touched a nerve. They had inadvertently touched on some festering emotional baggage. Of course, I did not want to admit that I was wounded, so I maintained all the more loudly that I was standing for the right. But of course, God sees through that whole facade, and tomorrow we’ll examine how He breaks it down.