“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear sighted and subverts the cause of the just.” Exodus 23:8
“Those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 1 John 4:16
I spent some time wondering how the verse from Exodus speaks to me. I don’t need to be told this. I know I should not accept money to get away with doing the wrong thing.
Bribery is just one of a tedious, exhausting list of very specific Old Testament rules. They were not suggestions for “being nice”, but law, dictated by God to Moses. Many seem to be for another place and time, not applicable to us, and today would certainly be disdained by a nation of people who consider their own freedom above that of others, and defy regulations. There are many things that blind us from the needs of others, most involving our own comfort and convenience, or gain. Rules do have purpose. They provide order and safety, protect property and livelihood, our physical well-being, the environment. While we are not likely to murder or steal, other commandments that do not result in legal consequences, are still harmful to others and our relationship with God. Such rules apply at all times and in all places, and they include me.
I am glad we had to memorize just Ten Commandments, and not the many chapters of Old Testament law. If ten are too many to remember, Jesus gave us two: love God with all our being, and love our neighbors as ourselves. If we remember and follow these two, the Spirit of God will live in us and direct our lives with compassion and fairness for others.
Oh that the Lord would guide my ways to keep his statutes still. Oh that my God would grant me grace to know and do his will. Make me to walk in your commands, a most delightful road. Nor let my head or heart or hands offend against my God. Amen (hymn words by Isaac Watts)