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March 2009

Covenant Living: Do

"You shall bind them as a sign on your hand. " (Deut. 6:8 )

cathedralFor the devotional part of our monthly newsletter, we've been looking at Covenant Living. That is, we have been looking at the practical living out of our faith using Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as a text. In that passage of Scripture, there are 6 principles listed. For easy memorizing, we have labeled each principle with a word that begins with the letter "d". So far, we have looked at the importance of doctrine; next, we looked at how we should be a devotional people; and last month we looked at discipleship. This month we want to look at the forth principle which is do.

Deuteronomy 6:8 says, "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand." Now, what could that possibly mean? The context is found in verse 6, which is talking about the Word of God. We are to bind the Word of God on our hands. This is really a poetic way of saying that whatever we do with our hands should be done with the guidance of God's Word. This is the Christian principle: Let the Word of God effect what you do with your hands.

Before the Protestant Reformation, it was common for people to divide work into two realms. There were the "secular" (worldly) and the "sacred" (holy). The secular type of work is what most people did: blacksmith, wheelwright, shoemaker, farmer, storekeeper, etc. All of these were viewed as worldly occupations. They were needed and necessary, but not godly in any sort of way.

On the other hand, there was the special sacred work of the Church or ministry which was godly work. The priests, monks, nuns or other so-called "holy men" were considered to be working for God. Their work was heavenly, special work.

"The Reformation not only effected the understanding of the Church and how people are made right in the eyes of God by grace alone, by faith alone, but it also effected the culture and challenged this dualistic understanding of work."

With the Reformation, this mentality of secular versus sacred changed. The Reformation not only effected the understanding of the Church and how people are made right in the eyes of God by grace alone, by faith alone, but it also effected the culture and challenged this dualistic understanding of work. The Reformers taught that the ways of God affected every area of life. They saw all work - sacred and secular - as a way of serving God. Martin Luther wrote in his book The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, that "the work of monks and priests in God's sight is in no way superior to the works of the farmer laboring in the field or the woman looking after her home."

When people began to hear and understand this teaching, it revolutionized the work ethic. Suddenly people saw themselves as artists and craftsmen who had been specially gifted by God to do the very work they were called by God to do. They began to see the food they grew and the animals they raised were food and clothing for others. They began to see their jobs - whatever they were - as a calling from God. Therefore, people are motivated to work hard and to do a good job, because at the end of the day, they haven't worked for themselves or even for an employer; they've worked for God.

Of course, this not only affects our industriousness, it also affects our business practices. When we bind the Word of God on our hands, then we give an honest day's work for an honest day's wage; we don't lie, cheat or steal in our business dealings. We apply the Covenant Concepts to the way we carry out our daily affairs. This is what it means to "do"; to bind the Words on our hands.
 

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