The law is like God communicating His boundaries. He’s essentially telling us, “This is what pleases me and this is what angers me.” Since He made heaven and earth and everything in the earth–including us–He has the right to set boundaries. Everything is His. Our attitude toward the law is one thing that affects our relationship with God. Can He trust us with what is important to Him? Do we respect His boundaries and learn to understand the heart behind the law?
Some Christians completely disregard the law, claiming absolute grace and freedom over their lives, but this attitude shows that they have not cultivated their relationship with God or tried to understand His heart. They are actually living in rebellion.
Others, like the Pharisees, obey the law and even add to it, but they too are missing the heart behind the law and are lacking in their relationship with God. I think in most cases, an over-reliance on the law is a sign of an insecure relationship with God. When we are unsure of any relationship, we usually resort to external signs of “love” including acts of service and gift-giving. While these are meant to be manifestations of heartfelt love, they often are mere substitutes for the real thing.
This is what was spoken of in Isaiah 29:13:
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
How would it feel if you had a friend who knowingly disrespected your boundaries and then acted all nice and innocent, even doing nice things like buying you gifts? Perhaps she repeatedly shows up late to lunch dates even when you have expressed that it frustrates you as you have limited time. Maybe she puts you down in front of others in the name of humor even when you’ve communicated to her how it embarrasses you. There are many more examples I could give, but the main idea is that these people communicate to you that they don’t care about your feelings or what’s important to you. Then they try to “cover over” their lack of love with acts of service, gift-giving, or acting nice.
On the other hand, you could have someone who seems to do all the right things yet there’s no connection. I’ve seen marriages like this. The husband makes good money, buys his wife a nice home, buys her flowers and takes her out occasionally, and is generally a good guy. Yet, there’s no affection, no intimacy, no vulnerability. Sometimes we have relationships like this and we can’t put our finger on what exactly is missing. We argue in our minds, “What is my problem? Why am I feeling this way?” We feel guilty for feeling discontent in these relationships, yet we have good reason! The relationship has no heart!
God’s not looking for nice, polite people. He’s looking for true intimacy. I’m so thankful that God has not required us to try to guess what pleases Him. He puts it all in His Word. We know what’s important to God through reading scripture. But don’t stop there! Pursue His heart.