Six years ago I decided it was time to finally get my health in order (read: I was entering my 40s and I recognized it was time to shed some pounds). Previously, I had tried the Atkins diet but failed miserably. While I love eating protein, the requirement that I completely eliminate carbohydrates drove me nuts (sorry for the pun!). I realized that being told NOT to eat something made me want to eat it even more. When Dr. Atkins told me I couldn’t eat any salad, well, that made me crave leafy vegetables, succulent cucumbers and juicy tomatoes–even if I wasn’t a salad eater!
Then a friend introduced me to Weight Watchers (and no, I’m not getting any royalties by talking about them). At my first meeting, they explained that if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to stay within a certain point total each day. They emphasized that Weight Watchers wasn’t a diet because I was free to eat anything—every food and drink was assigned a certain point total based on calories, fat grams, dietary fiber, and volume. If I ate something loaded with calories, I would need to compensate that same day in other areas of my diet.
Within five months I lost 40 pounds!
After my first meeting, I experienced one of those “Aha!” moments. Weight Watchers is based on the New Testament teaching of the new covenant!
Curious? Then join us in our daily Bible conversation.
2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Job 28:1-33:33. Job may appear to be droning on and on about his righteousness, but remember that his friends have accused him of evil. So in this section, he’s saying, “If I’ve done evil, then let my suffering become even worse.”
In chapter 32, Elihu enters the stage. He isn’t considered one of Job’s three “friends,” but he’s listened to the exchange and finally can’t stand it any longer. He’s angry at Job and his friends. He’s angry at Job because the man sees himself as “in the right” while God is “in the wrong.” None of us get what we deserve (Job 33:27). He’s angry at Job’s friends because they keep leveling wrongful accusations. In Elihu’s estimation, God allows suffering to prevent us from not just sinning, but making choices that bring death to our souls.
Psalm 42:1-43:5. In some manuscripts, both of these psalms constitute one psalm, which is apparent due to the recurring chorus. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” In the midst of his stress and sorrow, the psalmist speaks these hope-filled words to himself.
Proverbs 22:7. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” This is a painful but true proverb—especially in light of our sour economy. If you need help getting out of debt, check out Dave Ramsey’s website. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
In 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, Paul compares the differences between the old covenant and the new covenant. The old covenant was instituted when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Basically, it was a list of dos and don’ts—all of them are good and serve as the foundation of law and order in western civilization. Paul doesn’t criticize the old covenant, but he points out that we’ve been given a new and better covenant:
- the ministry of the Spirit is superior to the ministry that brought death (verses 7–8)
- the ministry that brings righteousness is better than the ministry that condemns (verse 9)
- the ministry which lasts is better than that which was fading away (verse 11)
The old covenant was based on rules the govern us from outside ourselves, but the new covenant is based on freedom that guides us from the inside! The new covenant doesn’t eliminate all restraints—just like Weight Watchers gives their adherents a daily point total. But like Weight Watchers, it isn’t based on those restrictions, it’s based on freedom.
“All are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:22–23 (italics added).
Contrary to popular belief, our faith isn’t based on restrictions but on freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Because of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit now lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16), convicting us and transforming us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:18). If you have given your life to Jesus, the deepest part of you isn’t even you—it’s Jesus, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
What does this mean for us?
As we reflect the heart of the psalmist in today’s reading (Psalm 42:1-2) and live according to the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), we don’t need rules to guide us because the Holy Spirit is guiding us.
That is freedom!
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- What does a list of rules do to you?
- Describe a time when a list of rules inspired you to break them.
- What affect does freedom have on you?
- What does walking in new covenant look like in your everyday life?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.