The problem with this method was that they were so intent on enforcing the rules, they lost track of the heart of the matter. God hadn’t just given rules and commandments to govern His people, but to teach them how to love His way. Imagine how exasperated Jesus as “Lord of the Sabbath” must have been to need to remind the Pharisees that it was in fact good to do good on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:12).
While it is easy to regard the Pharisees with a smirk and eye roll, I think we all, in one way or the other, have been guilty of the same offense.
It can be so easy to get caught up in societal rules which are often selfish (move your feet, lose your seat) and forget that we are called to humility (think of others before ourselves). Our popular rules often glorify a culture that caters to ourselves and shrouds the humility of Heaven.
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching His disciples God’s ways over the world's ways. Most of what He said must have sounded a bit crazy:
Admittingly counter-cultural, these new commands were to teach His followers to live a life that stands out from the world in a culture that valued religion over relationships. Although they may read like just a new list of rules to follow, Jesus’s teachings weren’t about trading in one list for another.
Jesus taught how to love each other as His Father loves us.
Being a Christ follower was never intended to be about upholding rules. It was always about being in right relationship foremost with our Heavenly Father but also with others.
And, when religion’s rules called for blood, Jesus answered, fulfilling all the requirements of the law, He shed His blood so we could live by, in and from love (Matt. 5:17; John 13:34).
Sometimes the “rules” that govern us are ingrained so deeply within that they are hard to recognize. Spend some time in prayer asking God if you are, even unknowingly, governing your life by familial, cultural or religious rules instead of God’s love.
If you struggle sometimes, like me, to live from God’s love, and find yourself instead living by the rules of our culture and popular society, I challenge you, like Jesus, to be a rule-breaker! Break away from legalistic rules and love others as Jesus did, with reckless abandon.
Memory Verse: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:3
Devotionals by Author
All Abby McDonald Angi Morrison Anne Say Audra Powers Breanna Faith Spearman Brenna Kurz Brittany Marlow Caroline Hultgren Courtney Filippin Dana Schaefer Danielle Biddy Debbie Burns Heather Kenny Jannetta Cox Jessica Parker Jess Ridgeway Joan Lavori Katelyn Wilson Katie Gibson Kelly Orlowski Kerri Barfield Keryn Stokes Kristen Williamson Laura Pendley Lindsay McNeely Lonette Baity Martha Rudolph Nancy Ehlinger Renee Robinson Saretta Wells Tara McGill Taylor Watkins Tierney Nashleanas Wendy Gerdes