Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Ethics of Grace

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Ethics of Grace

Article excerpt

Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42

It has often been said that the best commentary on scripture is other scripture. This being the case, reading Paul's words in Romans 6:14 illuminates all of this week's readings: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but grace" (italics added). God's power, incarnate in Jesus Christ, ends the dominion of sin and death. This divine authority is the grace-filled power that is ever bringing life, even life eternal.

To be under law, in the context of Romans, is to be without grace. In Genesis 22:1-14, God tests Abraham by asking him to kill his son Isaac on the mountain as a sacrificial offering. Then grace prevails over law, life over death. An angel of the Lord calls off the slaughter and God provides--as Abraham foretold--and a ram takes Isaac's place on the altar.

In Psalm 13, law would have provided a way to lash out at the enemies bringing pain upon the one who laments. But the psalmist lives under grace and not law, singing in joy of God's grace, "because he has dealt bountifully with me" (Psalm 13:6).

In Matthew's gospel, the power and dominion of grace take the shape of ethics based on grace. Without knowing there is a reward in store, those who do the right thing, loving freely, find themselves blessed. …

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