“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible
Isn’t this a beautiful portrait of how He wants our life to be with Him? So often we get bound up in legalistic do’s and don’ts that were never a part of His plan. We feel like we’re living in a religious cage, rather than basking in our position in His family. (See John 1:10-13) When we allow Him to take His role as heavenly Father in our lives, He leads, guides, helps, works with, talks to and builds our relationship on grace. Our lives are meant to be joyful and thriving because of Him in our hearts. We can FLURISH without limitation if we stay close to Him and follow His lead.
How that looks in each of our lives will be beautifully different because each of us has a distinct relationship with Him. This is how He meant it to be and even though it’s difficult for our minds to fathom, He can easily have a UNIQUE relationship with each of His children throughout history because He is the Almighty God with no limits on His power! Think about the awesomeness of that.
“Legalism” simply is the wrong use of laws or rules. It’s not from Jesus.
“Yes,'” said Jesus, “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Luke 11:46 New Living translation
We must free and guard ourselves against the foul spirit of legalism. It can be so subtle that we often do not recognize it in ourselves. It sours our spirit and can sour others around us. Legalism is wrong because it emphasizes the external without encouraging the internal. God is all about the heart and its motivations. He offers love, forgiveness and grace in abundance for our lives. Some examples (certainly not an exhaustive list because it truly would be exhausting to write it) of modern day legalism that are all too alive and well are:
Type of Attire?
Devotions—When? How long?
Observing Sabbath? (see Leisure Update post)
Women working outside the home?
Smoking pipe, cigars, cigarettes?
Drinking? (Not to be confused with drunkenness)
Going to movies?
Upbeat worship music?
Using instruments in worship music?
How often to attend corporate worship?
To spank children or not?
Etcetera etcetera etcetera
Have you developed any convictions of your own? For instance, some people feel you should never write in your Bible. I personally write and highlight in my Bible to track my special times talking with and learning from Jesus. As a result, my Bible is full of marked up memories. I do handle my Bible as sacred in other ways by not setting things on top of it and using it regularly. These are personal convictions not commands, demands or “less thans” in God’s eyes.
If you face a biblical gray area, talk to God about it. Reason with Him over what is right for you and make that your standard but do not expect others to hold to your standard. Where gray areas are concerned, our loving Lord provides freedom and invites each of us to find our personal convictions with His Spirit’s direction.
“Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—-then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” Romans 14:22-23 The Message Bible
FLURISH in His freedom and grace!
Shine on. . .