We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (1 Tim. 1:8)

Shop class and I didn’t get along in the seventh grade, but this time it would be different. With fierce determination, I set out to avoid past mistakes (their name was Legion) and produce a knickknack shelf in the form of a maple leaf, one my mother could proudly display for decades to come.

Miraculously, my maple leaf masterpiece took shape, more or less, and I applied two coats of varnish before putting it aside to dry. At the end of the day, however, results weren’t quite up to my expectations. Apparently I had coated it with glue instead of varnish, and now it was decorated with wood shavings, lint, and various flying insects. Not only that, but the shelf was bonded to my workbench for time and eternity.

Glue has its place, but not as a substitute for varnish. Glue is glue. Glue does what glue does. Inadvertently I depended on it to do something it was never intended to do.

The law has its place too. “It is God’s straightedge to show us how crooked we are,” John R. Church said. But don’t count on the law for salvation. It’s grace that brings new life through faith, we’re told, and that will make all the difference one day when we place the finished craftwork of our lives in the hands of the carpenter of Nazareth for his “well done.”

Seek to understand the law so you can appreciate grace.

Bob Black is professor emeritus of religion at Southern Wesleyan University, where he served for thirty-two years. Along with Keith Drury, he coauthored the denominational history, The Story of The Wesleyan Church.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.