A Little Legalism
(Isaiah 22:1-14; 28:1-29; 29:1-21; 33:1)
A Bit Bossy
Public Domain Photo
What’s Wrong with a Few Rules?
Growing up in the church, I knew all about rules. In fact, I probably never knew live without standards and strict regulations. We had rules about religion, rules about relationships and rules about rules.
As a preteen, I first learned about God’s free gift of salvation. For many years afterwards, I was still trying to find ways to please God and to pay Him back for His grace. God, in His infinite patience, has unshackled me from the chains of legalism many times over the years. In fact, He continually unlocks my heart, each time I try to fasten those restraining rules again.
Is that even possible?
What does God want from us, in return for His mercy and love?
Certainly, we can seek to glorify Him and to display our gratitude for His great gifts of forever friendship, fatherhood and forgiveness.
Perhaps the problem creeps in when we try to make our own actions count for more than that, as if we might possibly possess the power to notch ourselves upwards on some cosmic ladder of worthiness.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah warned of this add-on, which humans have perpetually and perennially attempted to affix to God’s simple truth.
“So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
‘Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there’ –
so that they will go and fall backward,
be injured and snared and captured.”
At what price do we pile do’s and don’ts, rules and restrictions upon ourselves and one another? When we focus more on law than on the Lord, have we not created a form of idolatry? Will we worship the Lord or the law?
Perhaps God urges us to seek a prudent balance between attitudes and actions. Although the Lord values order and harmony, doesn’t He also call us to freedom?
Maybe it’s all about our motives, rather than our measures. Could it be that God is most interested in our love more than our laws – and relationship more than religion?
Will you pray with me?
How blessed we are
That You reach past our failings
And our flawed flailings
To draw us to Your own heart.
We deserve only death,
But You offer us abundant life.
May we live to praise You.