It used to be common for Christian teachers to describe the Jewish law as a burden. This came partly from the letters of Paul, who argued strenuously that it should not be imposed on Gentiles who came to faith in Jesus. But it was also coloured by the experience of Martin Luther and other reformers who found they could not earn their way into God’s favour by keeping the teachings of the medieval Church.
But the Torah (“instruction” or “law”) was never intended as a way for Israel to earn God’s favour. God chose the people, and said so clearly, before the Torah was ever given. Instead, it was a sign of the covenant, a reminder and assurance that they were indeed God’s “treasured possession.” (Exodus 19:5) That’s why Psalm 1 (and other passages) describes the Torah as a delight.
The New Testament and Christian tradition have their own sets of laws and moral guidelines. But none of them are ways to earn God’s favour. In Jesus, we are already chosen, loved and forgiven. To follow the way of Christ is a joy. It is a privilege to have just a small part in God’s mission of love for the world.
Gracious Jesus, you came to bring us abundant joy. Teach us to delight and to follow in your way of self-giving service. Amen. — PS