Beyond Civility

Click for desktop background.

Daily Reformation, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

From the Reformer

Not that the fathers wandered like blind men in a mist, but that they had to be content with the light of early dawn or with the moon and stars. We know how obscure the teaching of the law was, so that it is truly called a “shadow.” But when the heavens were finally opened by the gospel, then indeed did the sun rise; and when the risen sun gives light the full day comes. It is Christ’s true office to give light. Therefore John begins by saying that the true light was from the beginning and lights every man coming into the world; and that the light itself shines in darkness. For some sparks of reason remain in men even when they have become blind by Adam’s Fall and the corruption of their nature.

—John Calvin, Commentaries (Hebrews 13:8)

Pulling It Together

The officer pulled over the driver who had been racing to work. He had clocked him at 19 miles an hour over the speed limit. His response was, “Oh! I didn’t realize the speed limit was only 35 MPH.” The officer explained to him that first, it was posted, second, he was passing all of the other motorists, and third, he traveled this route to work each day and does indeed know the law. You cannot get away with anything in a small town.

The Apostle Paul states in Romans that God has revealed enough of himself in creation that we ought to know of God (Rom 1:20)—even if we do not yet know who he is. He further states that we are without excuse and stand either faithful or ungodly by our actions. Children have enough of a spark of understanding to know whether their actions are correct or incorrect. The playground bully, before his heart was dulled, may have enjoyed the exhilaration of defeating another child but his soul told him it was wrong to do so. He had been instructed by his teachers and peers, he saw the actions of others in contrast to his own, and he had felt guilty enough times to have changed.

We know enough about the world to be civil but even that is not enough. It is not enough to know the law; one must also follow the law and, not just the law but, the Lawmaker. When the Spirit of the Lawmaker is given control, the simply civil becomes righteous. Before that, you are merely old, reasoning flesh when you could become new, enlightened spirit.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

Leave a Reply