“Legalism Can Be Good…Sometimes”

“These people think they can draw near to Me by saying the right things, by honoring Me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from Me.

 Their worship of Me consists of man-made traditions learned by rote; it is a meaningless sham.”

 Isaiah 29:13

I was reminded of something this morning. I can tend to be very legalistic. There is no denying that I am a rule follower. I don’t like gray areas. If you give me a set of rules or conditions, I will always stay within those boundaries. And I am very comfortable there. Living with structure keeps me safe and always helps me to know what to expect next.

Regardless of your personal attitudes, you can’t deny that legalism is good when it comes to things like traffic safety, nuclear energy plants, and completing tax returns. (I fear I would have made a fantastic Pharisee.)

However, the one place that I am certain legalism is not good is wrapped up in our relationship with God. Jesus fulfilled our requirements under the law over 2,000 years ago. We have been set free. But I don’t think we actually know it yet.

Unfortunately, friends, I fear that many of us still live under “the law” because it is comfortable for us. It is a known quantity, and really doesn’t require much of us. Let’s be honest. A good deal of , even our church culture, would tell us that to be a good Christian only requires the following:

  • Go to church
  • Give something (but I don’t have to get crazy with tithing or anything)
  • Help people if I have the ability
  • Don’t hurt anybody intentionally
  • Don’t wish anybody harm
  • Say grace before meals (if you live in the south)
  • And teach my kids to do the same

Do you recognize that all these characteristics have something in common? They are all based on activity. I should do something. Or I should not do something. And the reason this kind of relationship is so appealing to many of us is that it is easily controllable. It doesn’t take much effort to do these things. And they make us feel good about ourselves. And, sneakily enough, by doing all these things we can say we are following all the major commandments (The Golden Rule, Deuteronomy 6, The Greatest Commandment, etc…)

Here is the problem friends, while all these things are good – THERE IS SO MUCH MORE!

And when I say “so much more, “ I don’t mean much more to do. I mean much more to be had. There is so much more that God wants us to have than just a superficial feeling of being a good person.

He wants us to have deep-down peace. He wants us to overflow with joy. He wants us to be able to lie down and sleep at night without worry. He wants us to know how much we are, each one, loved and valued and treasured. And list goes on and on.

But we can’t have those things if we continue living a superficial relationship with our Savior. Until our hearts are opened completely and our souls are receptive to His leading, we will never have those things.  These things are too far away for us if we continue to focus on “doing.”  The only way to take hold of these gifts is to learn to “be.”  And to let the Spirit of God speak into our lives.

What would happen, dear ones, if you laid down all your plans and concerns, and just said, “Father, lead me.” Where might He take you if you were willing to go? Would it be to a place of purpose and fulfillment? Would it be to a place He had prepared for you? Two things are certain. First, it would be a good place. You can count on it. Second, it is an unknown place. And, for some of us, that is scary.

My prayer for each of you today is that you would truly open your heart to the relationship Jesus wants to have with you. I pray that you would seek Him earnestly, in the quiet of your own soul and listen intently on what He has to say to you. And that you would lay your own thoughts, plans, and maybe even fears aside and choose to rest in His faithful hands.

Isn’t it time to stop so much “doing,” and focus on just “being” with the lover of our souls?

May you be blessed by His manifest presence today.

Two great meditation tools for today:

Song of the Day: Oceans – Hillsong United, the acoustic version


Lectio Divina Passage for Today:

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.  Be merciful and answer me!

 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”

    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Psalm 27:1,7-8

One Comment on ““Legalism Can Be Good…Sometimes”

  1. very well put Sister if we are to be Kingdom builders we need to let the master builder have ever thing that we have,easier said than done I know.

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