I pray this finds those reading this doing well and thankful for another day in Christ. During our weekends, we have been taking advantage of good weather to catch up on outdoor projects. This means that once a week when I go into the church to record Sunday's message, I will also stop and pick up what supplies we may need. Among the places I will shop is Ace hardware. A memory from a visit to Ace hardware is what is behind what I wanted to share today.
Like those who are listed as an Ace customer, I will periodically get coupons that will offer discounts on buying certain items, a small percentage off the total or a dollar amount. One month I was surprised by the wording of the coupon which stated that it was good for a cover for a Trager grill. I was sure there was a misprint and this was confirmed when I went in and asked. They apologized for the typo (it was supposed to say "free cover with purchase of Trager grill"). The apology included being able to select a free Trager rub which run for about $15. I thanked them for the gift and asked if anyone had gotten snarky and pushed the coupon issue. I was told that in the end, they had the discretion to not honor the wording in the coupon and so far everyone had been understanding about the typo.
As I thought of potential customers who would push the issue, I recalled someone I know that pushed a coupon issue at a local store to the letter of the wording and although she won the argument, she violated the spirit of the coupon. The coupon was intended to reward customers for the purchase of one item, not provide them a means of generating income on eBay by using the exact wording of the coupon to get a large amount of items for a small amount of investment. The difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law is an issue that comes up in the Scriptures. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law.
We see this problem with the sacrificial system where folks were following the letter of the law in regards to the sacrifices but ignored the intent behind those sacrifices which was basically to remember who God was, who they were, and the dynamics of their relationship. This is why the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Micah tugged on their ear about what was important. Jesus also pointed to the difference between the letter and the spirit during the Sermon on the Mount.
It is easy for us to do the same thing. While we may understand the exhortation to read God's word; our daily reading of scripture may become only reading it to check it off a "to do" list rather than meditating on what we actually read. Another thing that can happen is that our prayers become a repetition of words without a spiritual connection. Sometimes we go to church and go through the motions without preparing our hearts for worship before we enter or truly engage our hearts while we worship. The Psalmist writes in Psalm [I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.] As we engage in our daily reading and in our daily prayers, let us do so not with a mind to get it out of the way but engage our hearts and minds as we ponder what God's word says to us and remember all that He had done.
Have a blessed day reading, meditating, and remembering.