It’s Monday Grace!
“The legalist never gets lost because everyone tells him where to go.”
One of the more common concerns for those who leave a legalistic or performance-based church is how to get the guidance needed for daily living. Our lives are filled with questions and choices. What job should I seek? Who should I marry? What should we name our children, and how should we raise them? What doctrines should I believe? The legalist church, of course, has all the answers. If the specific answer is not easily provided, the questioner will be told to search the Scriptures for answers.
The young man went to the pastor to find out who he should marry. The preacher told him to look in his Bible. So, the young man went home and, in frustration, tossed his Bible on his bed. When he looked down at the Bible, he read, “And you will have joy and gladness,” from Luke 1:14. There was a girl named Joy in his church, so the young man knew he had a word from the Lord. The next Sunday, he went over to Joy’s father and told him that the Lord had told him to marry Joy. The father liked the young man and went to Joy with the news. In a few months, the two young people were married.
Now, I know that story will trigger some of you (and maybe it should), but that’s just the kind of story we used to hear from the legalist church and organization. God gave the perfect direction. The same kind of direction would be given to those who needed to find a job or buy a house. It would even work for choosing the color of car you buy or the style of suit or dress you wear.
Maybe you can write the rest of the story for that young couple. Sometimes those situations worked. I am not going to limit the way God can speak to a young couple. But I also know that the neat and tidy answers legalists seek are often manufactured by the hearts of those who seek them. In other words, the flesh offers a solution to the problem and legalism puts a spiritual twist on it.
Sometimes it isn’t even your flesh, but the teacher’s flesh. If your pastor or parent or teacher is deeply committed to certain perspectives, he/she will probably expect those things to apply to you. For example, one teacher heard a police officer say that many young people who get into trouble drive red cars. So, he associated red cars with rebellion. Therefore, no believer should buy a red car. Yes, it sometimes is just that ridiculous.
But what do you do when you don’t have the legalist preacher or system to tell you how to think and act? Where do you get your guidance? How do you make those big and small decisions under grace? Without the handy proof texts and the special wisdom of the teacher and his/her followers, where do you get your answers?
“I know, Pastor, you’ll just say to follow Jesus.”
Yup, Johnny One-Note here.
Believe two things. First, Jesus is a real person. Second, so are you.
What that means is that you can go to Jesus with your questions and trust that He will guide you. Because He is not a machine or a system, He may lead you in different ways. Ask your question and trust that He will give you the answer when you are ready to receive it.
It also means that your answer can be different from the answer He gives others. One of the serious flaws in legalism is the idea that everyone should do the same thing or go through the same process. But God sees each of us as individuals and deals with us as individuals. You are a real person, and your needs and thought processes are different from others. Legalism wants to push people into the same molds. God doesn’t do that.
So, what does guidance look like under grace? I think it looks a lot like asking and listening. When you come to Jesus with your question, yield the answer to Him. Don’t have an investment in a certain answer or, at least, be willing to give up that investment. He knows the longing or the fear or the need in your heart. Trust Him to give the best answer, even if it is one you didn’t think you would like or one you hadn’t thought of. He is a real person who loves you. And He is wiser than you. Trust Him.
I think a believer can begin to live this way. We can yield our lives to Jesus in such a way that we walk without worry or frustration. If something pops up for you to buy or an opportunity for a connection arises, you can look to Jesus and trust that He will lead you in real time. In other words, you might find that decision-making becomes much easier when you no longer have to invest yourself or try to perform to a certain spiritual level.
And, when you have to wait for an answer, it might come through the Bible or through another person or even through your own heart. Under grace we can learn to trust our hearts as we yield to Him. It isn’t wrong to seek an answer in the Bible, as long as you don’t twist the words to apply to your situation or desires. It isn’t wrong to ask for wisdom from someone else, particularly if that person is walking with Jesus. Nor is it wrong to lift your question to Jesus and listen for His voice in your heart.
I suppose I have to say that, of course, you shouldn’t ask permission or guidance for something you know is sin. Sin is still out there, and it still hurts people. Should I walk over and beat my neighbor’s barking dog? You know, I really don’t have to ask Jesus that question. And, in fact, there are many questions that I don’t have to ask. I already know the answer. If you already know the answer, you already have your guidance.
I believe grace is practical at fundamental levels. If our lives consist of walking with Jesus, then everything becomes part of that walk. The more we walk with Him and listen to Him, the more our lives will be filled with His wisdom and blessings.
It’s ready! Listed on Amazon!
Those who read here know that I believe the greatest expression of God’s grace is found in Jesus. So, when Jesus taught the people, what do you suppose He wanted them to understand? He wanted them to know the power and the desire of the love of God for them. His message was not about what they should do for God, but what God had done and was willing to do for them. His offer of salvation and Heaven could be summarized in two words: “Follow Me!”
The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing message of God’s practical grace for the lives of His people. It presents an offer, a free gift, of everything God wants His people to have. It all is found in Jesus.
This is a big book, over 450 pages, all for the purpose of showing that the Sermon on the Mount was a message of love. Rather than a list of new rules given by Jesus, the Sermon reveals the heart of God.
This is not a Bible commentary. It is written in the same conversational style you know from this blog. The theology may be deep, but the reading is straightforward and simple. I believe you will enjoy this book!
Listen: get the ebook if you have a Kindle. It’s only $10. My guess is that this is the best $10 book you will get for your Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you should be able to read it on any computer or tablet or even phone with the Kindle app. And, if it doesn’t work for you, just send it back!
The book is a chunk, but the print is clear and large enough to enjoy. The cover photo is one I took from a boat on the Sea of Galilee to show the approximate place the Sermon was delivered.
And let me know what you think! Leave a review for others. Reviews are important for Amazon sales. Send me a note with your thoughts or questions. You know how to reach me.
While you are on Amazon, type in my name to see the other books I have listed. You might be surprised!