Me: Hey Prodigal! I love your heart.
Prodigal: Thank you, it is from a friend. I was tired and needed a nap so my friend was nice enough to give me this heart shaped pillow to lay down on.
Me: That was very compassionate of your friend. You could say that your friend was showing you love with a heart shaped pillow.
Prodigal: Of course you could say that, but I have a feeling you want to say something about love and not my pillow.
Me: Of course, you are learning my style Prodigal and I want to share the love of a servant.
Prodigal: Please hurry, like I said it is about time for my nap!
I am currently reading a book called Stories for Struggling Servants by Dr. Kenn Gangel. It is a very good read. I came across a paragraph that made a statement that hit me right in the spirit. He was talking about a lesson we can learn from the gospel. Dr. Gangel states We must make sure that we do not aim verbal darts at God’s servants whether they behave with the legalism of the Pharisees or the liberty of Jesus.
If we have been in church culture at least a little then it will not be long before we hear the word legalism. What is that though? Here is the definition from dictionary.com. The first one states the doctrine that salvation if gained through good works. The second one is the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws. We could take a whole theology class on these two topics but I need to keep this short. How do you know legalism? When you feel the pressure to have a check list of your life based on the people in the church instead of what God has told you in his word and through his spirit. One of the biggest issues is with women and being married and having children. No where in the bible does it state women have to be married and have children to be godly women. Time and time again the church culture will have an atmosphere of disapproval if they are not married or at least extreme pressure. That is a check list from men and not of his word. It makes you feel condemned instead of God’s love and grace he has for us.
The other side of that is the freedom of liberty. Some Christian will take the liberty to extreme. They say Jesus has forgiven me of my sins and I will go to heaven so I am going to live my life anyway that I want too. The same example would be is you are a single woman then have sexual relations outside of marriage. The bible clearly states that this is a sin but our culture does not. God will forgive you of this but to have a close relationship with Christ we should strive to be obedient toward what Christ would want for us.
I could write on forever about these two topics but I want to focus it again on the short passage from Dr. Gangel. What happens when we get a friendly checklist from a Christian? What happens when we find out a way of life that is taken liberty to the extreme? How do we respond?
I will be the first to say that I can be compassionate to someone in the in the second example but when faced with legalism against me I tend to throw out several fiery darts. In fact I might just have a bucket load of fiery darts. God loves both these people the same. Why cant I show love to both of them like God. Just because the first one may hurt my feelings does not give me a right to beat them over the head with my words. I pray right now for God to turn my fiery darts to arrows of compassion and help me to really be a compassionate servant.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jennifer Van Allen