The Law of God: Questions and Answers
How shall we understand and apply God’s Law today?
The Law of God encourages contracts, freely and honestly engaged.
“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” Leviticus 19:13
We want to be careful, when studying the Law of God, that we don’t overlook the obvious. We take for granted in our society that people have a right to engage in various kinds of contractual arrangements with one another. For example, Susie and I have engaged a very excellent neighbor to build a railing around our back deck. This is not something we could do by ourselves, especially given the amount of wood work required. So we have Bryan under contract to build out a design we have agreed on together.
As I say, we take such dealings for granted. But it behooves us to inquire about the provenance of such rights and privileges? Do all societies—present or past—enjoy such rights? And where did human beings learn to practice such mutually beneficial activities?
There can be no doubt but that the Law of God provides for a kind of society in which free men are encouraged to enter into contractual arrangements of various kinds for their mutual benefit. That is, I have a job which I need to have done that is beyond what I can do on my own. I search out a neighbor whose integrity, skill, and good intentions I trust, and we sit down to consider an arrangement that would work best for our needs and his. Once agreed, we put the whole in writing—or we just shake hands—and the work begins.
The Law of God promotes such acts of mutual benefit and love. Why should we not consider that statutes such as the one put forth in Leviticus 19:13 would be important to learn and practice in our own day?
As an aside, such statutes can be seen as calling into question certain economic practices in our own day—such as minimum wage laws. The Law of God does not envision a place for civil magistrates to participate in the making of contracts between employers and employees, unless, of course, disputes arise. The same might be asked concerning workplace safety regulations. Is there really a place here for government, apart from adjudicating any claims among disputants?
The business of creating work and establishing wages is not a role for which government is suited, and it should not be a place where government seeks to fulfill its God-ordained duties as a servant of God for good.
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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T. M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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